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Don Most, 'Moola' And Lehigh

As a guy who graduated in 1992, straddling the cusp between the eighties and nineties, I have some strange obsessions about the eighties. Before you start thinking that they're common fare like The Princess Bride and parachute pants, here they are in no particular order:

* The Cars' Elliot Easton's solo album "Change No Change".
* Creepshow ("Wheeere's Myyyy Caaaaake?").
* Eddie Murphy.
* Anything with an Ocean Pacific label on it.
* Howard The Duck (not only did I love this movie growing up, I bought the soundtrack).
* Two words: Dog Police.

Aside from establishing me as some sort of obvious freak, it also might help explain my fascination for another former Lehigh student: director and actor Don Most, who has just directed a new DVD movie called 'Moola'. You probably remember Mr. Most best for his role as Ralph Malph on Happy Days.

Mr. Most recently talked about his latest project, and life at Lehigh in the Allentown Morning Call.

Released on DVD Tuesday, the based-on-a-true-story film is about, in Most's words, ''the great value of the ordinary man.'' Set in the Midwest, the sparkly, Capra-esque comedy follows the ever-changing fortunes of a lightstick manufacturer named Steve (William Mapother of ''Lost,'' who plays one of the ''Others'').

In debt up to his eyeballs and on the brink of divorce from his wife (Charlotte Ross), Steve and his partner (Daniel Baldwin) luck upon a new use for his lightsticks as bovine fertility devices. (Don't ask). Instead of having to file for Chapter 11, Steve is on the brink of selling his company off to a big conglomerate (overseen by ''Green Mile's'' Doug Hutchison and Treat Williams).


Most enrolled at Lehigh as an engineering major because his accountant father and housewife mom wanted him to get a real education.

One semester of engineering convinced Most he should pursue a business degree. But even after he made the switch, he was restless, going back and forth to New York to see his girlfriend and to audition for stage and TV work.

''During my freshman year, I'd take the bus to the city,'' he says. ''By my sophomore year, I had a car and I made a lot trips back home, probably more than I should have. I didn't give as much attention to my school work as I needed to.''

During his junior year, Most made plans to spend the summer in L.A. scouring for acting jobs before going back to Lehigh in the fall. But three months turned into six months. He booked ''Happy Days'' on his third audition and Lehigh University was in his rear-view mirror. He never graduated.

I mean, how can you not love this story? For every older alum that can identify with famous Lehigh alumnus Lee Iacocca and his meteoric rise in business, there are hundreds of Lehigh alums and almost-alums of my generation that can identify more closely with this. Maybe it plays into my own lost dreams of doing stand-up comedy, I'm not sure. But in some inexplicable way, his story inspires me.

The article doesn't mention other parts the Don Most's oeuvre, including the underrated Leo and Loree (although Most isn't credited as a writer, his character is basically his life story), and my personal favorite USA Up All Night feature, Stewardess School.

All that, and he's taller than Henry Winkler, too.


Lehigh74 said…
I always thought it was strange that Donny didn't become a well known movie star. I guess that is the price you pay for being pigeonholed in one role for such a long time.
Anonymous said…
Perhaps a lack of acting talent might also have been a factor.

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