HomeAmerican EntertainmentTVClassic TV‘Happy Days’ Star Ron Howard Blames Hair Loss on Stress Over The Fonz

‘Happy Days’ Star Ron Howard Blames Hair Loss on Stress Over The Fonz

by Taylor Cunningham
Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, Donny Most, and Anson Williams act together in the television program "Happy Days". Howard played Richie Cunningham; Donny Most played Ralph "the Mouth"; Anson Williams acted as Potsie and Henry Winkler was "The Fonz". Bill (sticks) Downey also appears on the episode.

Ron Howard started losing his thick head of red hair while starring in Happy Days, and he blames it on his classic TV counterpart The Fonz.

When Howard started going bald, he was only 20 years old. And according to the book titled Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family that he co-authored with his brother Clint, it was due to a stress-induced skin condition that caused his hair to start “falling out in alarming clumps.”

Unfortunately, his good friend Henry Winkler was the trigger. But it wasn’t because of a backstage feud between the two pop icons. Instead, it had to do with the fact that Winkler’s Fonzie was taking Howard’s place as the lead star.

“It did not escape my notice that as the season went on, the Fonz was getting more and more screen time,” he wrote in his memoir.

The Fonz Stole Ron Howard’s Fame on ‘Happy Days’

When Happy Days began filming, Ron Howard was already a household name. The actor had been in the industry since he was a child. And he notably starred as Opie Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show and also Steve in American Graffiti. So creator Garry Marshall rightfully assumed his new sitcom would revolve around the life of Howard’s Richie Cunningham.

However, it was the unknown actor Henry Winkler who ended up winning the hearts of viewers. And as the series progressed, he became the obvious lead.

While Ron Howard never felt ill will towards Winkler, he did carry a lot of fear about losing his career.

“I didn’t handle my stress particularly well,” he continued. “I probably would have benefited from seeing a psychotherapist … Instead, I kept everything inside.”

“Then I started breaking out in eczema rashes all over my body, most acutely on my eyelids … And my hair started thinning,” he added.

The actor knew it was “inevitable” that he’d lose his hair one day. As he shared, the men on both sides of his family ended up bald by the time they were old men. However, he found it alarming that his hair was falling out at such a young age.

In the end, it all worked out in Howard’s favor, though. After the stress became too much in 1980, he left Happy Days to follow his dreams of producing and directing.

While his hair never grew back, Howard found instant fame with some of his earliest works such as Cacoon, Willow, and Splash. And eventually, Howard even earned himself two Oscars for his film A Beautiful Mind.

And Ron Howard even made a lifelong friend with the man who stole his Happy Days fame. Henry Winkler is his closest friend all these years later. In fact, the two are so inseparable that they’re the godfathers to each other’s children.