‘Happy Days’ Icon Henry Winkler Says He’s Reinvented Himself ‘Many Times’

by Taylor Cunningham

From Happy Days to Barry, Henry Winkler has made a career out of reinventing himself.

The 76-year-old classic TV icon has nearly done it all in the celebrity business. He’s starred on both the big and small screens in comedy, drama, and action. He’s taken the stage as a motivational speaker, a playhouse actor, and a Broadway singer. He also teaches famous drama classes called The Winkler Method. And he’s penned non-fiction books and children’s books.

Since becoming a breakaway star as the Fonz just after gaining a master’s from the Yale School of Drama at 27, he’s managed to stay busy and relevant in Hollywood. The feat is nothing short of amazing.

But during an interview with ABC News’ Linsey Davis, Henry Winkler said keeping in the limelight isn’t as hard as it seems. And though he’s decades older than he was when he began, he believes that he’s currently in his prime.

As Winkler said, he’s “reinvented” himself several times. But perhaps his biggest and most challenging change came when he decided to branch into children’s books. The star suffers from a common disorder that made him believe being an author was never in the cards for him. And once he realized he could do it, it opened his eyes to the fact that all his dreams are possible.

“Writing children’s books. That was a time filler,” he admitted to David. “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.’ I said, ‘I’m dyslexic. I can’t do that.'”

Henry Winkler Was Unaware of his Dyslexia Until He Was 31

But his friends wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. So they offered to set him up with the co-founder of The Society of Children’s Book Writers to give him a start.

“They said, ‘I’ll introduce you to Lin Oliver.’ And I said, ‘OK,” and we hatched Hank Zipzer, We’ve written 39 novels together,” he said proudly.

The character, Hank, is “the world’s greatest underachiever,” who teaches kids to face their fears. And the books are highly rated top sellers.

Winkler didn’t know he was dyslexic until he was 31, which made his challenges with the disorder harder to overcome. But becoming successful in his fiction pursuits gave him courage that he has gladly spread to others.

“How do you do it? You do it because you want it—because there is a way to figure it out,” he said of working through dyslexia. “I met a little girl, 12 years old, Olivia. Olivia is dyslexic. And I said to her, ‘How you learn has nothing to do with how brilliant you are.'”