‘Happy Days’ Star Henry Winkler Explains Why He is a ‘Very Lucky Actor’

by John Jamison

If you haven’t had a chance to follow Henry Winkler’s acting career since his time as Fonzie on Happy Days, you’re missing out. The legendary actor has had some character opportunities that have led to great results in recent years. It’s part of why he considers himself to be such a “lucky actor.”

First off, Henry Winkler was obviously lucky to be involved with Happy Days. He got to work alongside creator Garry Marshall and a cast filled with legends such as Ron Howard, Tom Bosley, and Pat Morita. Playing such an iconic and beloved character like Fonzie could have limited Winkler’s career, but he didn’t let it define him. In that way, he created his own luck.

More than four decades after first appearing on Happy Days, Henry Winkler finally won his first Emmy for his role as Gene Cousineau on the hit HBO series Barry. And he considers himself lucky for the opportunity to work with the show’s co-creators, Bill Hader and Alec Berg.

“First of all, Bill Hader is a cinephile. He knows every piece of celluloid or tape ever created by man. He knows who’s in it, who wrote it, he knows that he can quote it. The circle that is made with Bill Hader and Alec Berg—I’m telling you, if you ever get a chance to be associated with one or both, you run, don’t walk. I’m a very lucky actor,” Winkler told Jonathan Alter of OLD GOATS in June.

Those are strong words coming from someone who once played the most popular television character in the world. Many will recognize Bill Hader for his work on Saturday Night Live, but he also plays the lead in Barry. Take Henry Winkler’s word for it; Hader’s work is worth checking out.

Putting Henry Winkler’s Luck Into Perspective

Yes, Henry Winkler was The Fonz. Yes, he was one of the biggest stars in the world while Happy Days was going strong. But remember the whole thing about how a character like that could have defined his entire career? Well, it almost did.

There was a period of time when Henry Winkler couldn’t land an acting job. It wasn’t all bad, as it opened up opportunities for him as a producer. Still, as his incredibly busy schedule indicates, Winkler is passionate about acting.

“But as an actor, I went from the mountaintop—55,000 letters a week— and slid right into the valley for the next eight, nine years. I started to produce because I couldn’t get hired as an actor from 1983 all the way to 1991,” Winkler told Jonathan Alter.

So when Winkler calls himself lucky, he’s referencing his good fortune landing Fonzie on Happy Days, of course, but more so the fact that he still gets to act.