Henry Winkler Revealed Why ‘Happy Days’ Was a Big Deal: ‘It Was Ageless’

by Joe Rutland

When Henry Winkler of “Happy Days” fame uses the word ageless, he could use the word for himself but he doesn’t in an interview.

Winkler who, of course, played “The Fonz” Arthur Fonzarelli on the long-running ABC sitcom, chatted with journalist-author Jonathan Alter for his “Old Goats” column.

Alter mentions “Happy Days” and its final episode, which had 30 million people glued to their TV sets. He asks Winkler why the show was such a big deal.

“I don’t have an answer,” Winkler said. “What I know is [‘Happy Days’ creator] Garry Marshall set the show in the ’50s for a reason, so that when you watched it, it was ageless.

“The stories are relevant no matter when you watch it,” he said. “They are family stories about the smallest details of what it is like to be alive on this planet. And each story had a moral but because it was set in the past, you never felt you were being hit on the head with a point of view.”

For Outsiders who only know of Winkler’s work on “Happy Days,” he’s also been involved with other TV shows like “Barry” and “Arrested Development.”

‘Happy Days’ Legend Remembers Learning Important Lesson While On The Set

It definitely appears that Winkler loved playing on “Happy Days” all those years ago.

Yet he was a young actor at the time, just hitting it big on a major TV show. That’s heady stuff when you haven’t been on one as was Winkler’s case.

It’s also obvious that he has a lot of respect and honor for Marshall.

Well, one night Winkler learned a lesson from the show’s creator and director. One night, Marshall was spending time with the guest cast.

Winkler was in a hurry to his first personal appearance. He was going to get $1,000 for an autograph signing at a mall in Little Rock, Ark.

Let’s let Winkler share the rest of the story from his chat with Alter.

“I went up to [Marshall] during the Friday night filming with members of the guest cast [smaller roles] and I said, ‘Can we hurry it up because I have to fly,'” he said. “And he waited and then he put down the microphone, and he held me against the wall.”

Marshall told Winkler in no uncertain terms what was going down.

“He said, ‘They [the guest cast] have every right to be introduced— just like you in the beginning,'” Winkler said. “What he showed me was respect for the total of the ensemble behind and in front of the camera.”

It appears to be a lesson that the actor took to heart. Winkler is a guy who acts and writes children’s books these days. That’s a wonderful turn of events for him.