From 1974 to 1984, Henry Winkler played the starring role of Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli on the still-beloved classic TV series Happy Days. The Fonz was an instant success, helping the show climb to the unbelievable heights that it did. The character was so adored by fans that a statue was erected of him in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the city in which the show is based.
Though becoming such a cultural icon is an incredible gift, it’s also a bit of a curse. After 11 years as The Fonz, Henry Winkler struggled with being typecast, especially because The Fonz was such an iconic character.
“Yes, that is true,” Winkler said of his post-Fonz struggles. “There was a concern, from the beginning of my training, that I did not want to be a flash in the pan. That I did not want to be known and then disappear. So that was a fear, which is a great motivator, by the way. Fear works miracles.”
“I thought, because The Fonz was so popular, I was going to beat the system,” Winkler continued. “There is no beating the system.”
As Henry Winkler quickly realized The Fonz would stick, whether he wanted the character to or not, he knew there was only one thing on which he could rely. “Will,” Winkler explained. “I just kept getting up and moving forward. Knocked over, got up, [and] kept moving forward. Because I knew what I wanted.”
‘Happy Days’ Star Henry Winkler Reveals His Favorite Character of His Career
In his nearly 60-year acting career, Henry Winkler has starred in 153 productions and counting. From Happy Days to The Waterboy to Barry, he’s had some truly memorable roles over the years. And to Henry Winkler, every single character he’s ever played has been a winner. “Don’t have one,” he replied when asked which character he liked best. “Love them all.”
For him, the simple fact that he’s able to portray characters on screen for others to enjoy such an overwhelming joy that he couldn’t possibly choose between them. “That I’m living my dream is…” Winkler began. “I’m a very verbal fellow, [and] I don’t have the words to tell you how happy I am.”
Henry Winkler’s lengthy career has involved wearing many hats, including that of a children’s book author. “I have reinvented myself many times,” he explained. “Writing children’s books! That was a time filler. I didn’t know what to do, nor was I being hired around 2001 after I did a Broadway play with, rest his soul, John Ritter.”
“So somebody said, ‘Write books about your dyslexia for children,” Winkler recalled. “I said, ‘I’m dyslexic. I can’t do that’. They said, ‘I’ll introduce you to Lin Oliver!’ I said okay. And we hatched Hank Zipzer. We’ve written 39 novels together.”