‘Happy Days’: Why Henry Winkler Was Happy His Big Break Came at 27

by Megan Molseed

Longtime actor Henry Winkler brings to mind a bevy of characters for multiple generations. For classic TV fans, Henry Winkler is the iconic Happy Days greaser, Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzerelli. For other fans, he’s the flighty, but understanding principal that meets a tragic fate in the original Scream. Still, others know him well as the hilariously – and oftentimes dangerously – incompetent lawyer Barry Zuckerhorn in the Jason Bateman-led Netflix comedy series Arrested Development. Most recently, streaming fans know the longtime star as Gene Cousineau on Barry.

It is quite a laundry list of prolific characters, no doubt…and there have been so many more over the years. And, says Henry Winkler, he wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, he is glad that his big break came later in life than it does for some actors. It was easier for him to adjust to the changes that success brings to an actor’s life, the Happy Days star explains.

Henry Winkler Recalls What It Was Like Hitting The ‘Big Time’ On Happy Days At the Age Of 27

When Henry Winkler’s Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzerelli first rode his bike into the hearts of TV watchers everywhere in 1974, the actor was already 27 years old. Much older than the character he played on Happy Days. However, the star notes that he is glad that this is how his fame shook down.

“I’m glad I was older because it was gigantic,” Winkler relates, adding that the weight of the fame was a lot, even for a grown adult.

“It was scary,” the Happy Days star remembers.

It Wasn’t Too Hard For Winkler To Make Sure He Kept A Level Head As His Star Continued To Rise

According to Henry Winkler, it can be easy for an actor to lose their objectives if they find too much fame at a young age. It is important, he says, to keep things “in check,” and to go into a business such as acting with eyes wide open.

“If you can keep that in some kind of check, it’s really objectively fun,” Henry Winkler explains of the business.

“You’re making a living, doing what you dreamed of doing,” the actor says. “You’re acting, and all this is happening.”

Of course, Winkler also notes that dealing with fans was easier for him as he skyrocketed to fame since he was older when he took on his prolific role on Happy Days. Winkler recalls how it wasn’t uncommon for him to be mobbed by fans of The Fonz…some even trying to snag pieces of clothing off his body.

Winkler also notes that there’s a flip side to the adoring fans as well. One time when he was making an appearance at a Texas mall he had one fan tell him “You are so cool,” while another noted, “You are so short.”