‘Happy Days’ Star Henry Winkler Said He Would’ve Been Scared of the Fonz in Real Life as a Kid

by Taylor Cunningham

Happy Days star Henry Winkler wouldn’t have been into Fonzie-mania as a kid. From 1974 – 1984, Henry Winkler played the smooth-talking greaser Arthur ‘Fonzie’ Fonzarelli, who instantly stole the limelight on Happy Days.

Upon debut, the Fonz quickly became a pop-culture phenomenon that helped turn the classic sitcom into the number one rated series in the nation. Fonzie was a unique character who oozed coolness while wearing his iconic leather jacket and cruising around Milwaukee on his motorcycle—fans simply loved everything about him. And because of the role, Henry Winkler became an enduring legend.

But during a vintage interview on The Mike Douglas Show, Douglas mentioned that Winkler’s image was “much different” than the one he portrayed on screen. And Winkler agreed while adding, “I hope so.”

Apparently, the actor wasn’t into the bold type at the time. And when he was a kid, people like the Fonz made him incredibly uncomfortable. So meeting a similar greaser would have made the actor bolt.

“Actually when I was younger, in the 50s I was 13,” he shared with Mike Douglas. “And if a black leather jacket walked by and said, ‘Hey, where you goin’?’ I’d say, ‘Actually, I’m blind. I was just looking for the door.”

Ron Howard Said He and Henry Winkler Were a ‘Fantastic Ensemble’ on ‘Happy Days’

When Happy Days first debuted in 1974, Ron Howard’s Richie Cunningham, was “the undeniable” lead in the show. But before long, Henry Winkler’s “the Fonz” became the star.

But despite becoming the secondary character in his own show, Howard didn’t mind Winkler’s rise to fame—he actually respected it.

“Now, Henry, from the very first episode, Henry Winkler, Playing the Fonz, just with a few lines, just had this remarkable character,” he told The Graham Norton Show.

With that respect, Howard and Winkler became fast friends. And their relationship “endures to this day.” In fact, Winkler is the godfather to all of Howard’s kids.

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

But while things were cool between the co-stars, Ron Howard had beef with the production team. Because when Howard stopped being their star, they started disrespecting him.

“The executives, studio heads, network heads, they, started treating me with a lot of disrespect,” he shared. “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.”