‘Happy Days’ Star Henry Winkler Opened Up About Being Last to Try Out for the Fonz

by Jacklyn Krol

Did you know that Happy Days star Henry Winkler was the last to try out for the Fonz?

In an interview on The Mike Douglas Show back in November of 1974, Winkler revealed that he was also the shortest actor to audition for the iconic character.

“I was the last one of the last people to try out for the part,” he said. “They called me up and I had contemporarily long hair a little stubble and I walked in and there was a bank of twelve people. They said would you read and I said yeah but I don’t think I’m who you want you know cause they want a big star.”

Despite his preconceived notions, they still wanted him to read for the Happy Days role.

“I stood up with this fellow you know and all of a sudden Fonzie came out,” he recalled. “I made him sit down I said just don’t give me any grief you know? Boom! That’s it and the next day I got the part, it was on my birthday.”

When asked if he thought he landed the part after his audition, he didn’t believe so.

“As a matter of fact, I didn’t want to do a series,” he shared. “Then the producer called me up and we had a long talk,” he continued. “[He had the role] As long as I could make Fonzie a human being I said fine. I work with great guys and I thank God that we have them here. I mean it’s such an important character and he’s brought so much to it and we learned a lot working.”

The host noted that a lot of girls come to the set because they were huge fans. Even a few stalkers.

Ron Howard on ‘Happy Days’ With Henry Winkler

Back in 1974 when Happy Days first aired, Ron Howard’s Richie Cunningham was the lead on the show. However, it wasn’t long before Henry Winkler’s “the Fonz” became the breakout star. Despite the change, Howard didn’t mind becoming second in line to the other character.

“Now, Henry, from the very first episode, Henry Winkler, playing the Fonz, just with a few lines, just had this remarkable character,” Howard told The Graham Norton Show. They ended up forming a tight bond and Winkler is the godfather to all of Howard’s children.

“We immediately bonded and became great friends,” he added. “We were a fantastic ensemble. We all got along great.”

Despite having a great working relationship with the cast, Howard fought with the production crew. He was being disrespected after becoming the second star on the show.

“The executives, studio heads, network heads, they, started treating me with a lot of disrespect,” he revealed. “From a business standpoint, just in terms of interaction, and the press, kept saying ‘what’s it like?’ or ‘do you feel like a second class citizen on your own show?’ These kinds of things, which I didn’t feel within the workspace. And I certainly didn’t feel within our friendship.”