‘Happy Days’ Star Henry Winkler Said The Fonz Was ‘Everybody I Wasn’t’

by Suzanne Halliburton

Listen to Happy Days star Henry Winkler as he talks about portraying his iconic role. Decades after Fonzie dominated TV screens and pop culture conversations, he’s still in awe of how cool it all was. That’s called authentic.

This interview happened a few years back. But he was on air with a British entertainment channel. The world loved Fonzie and all the other characters from Happy Days. It’s like they’re all still young and hanging out at Arnold’s while dancing to the jukebox and eating cheeseburgers. And, of course, that means Arthur Fonzarelli, with his greased back hair, dark leather jacket, white t-shirt, jeans, and work boots, still is riding his silver Triumph motorcycle around Milwaukee. Who cares if the real-life Fonz has six grandkids.

Can we get a thumbs up and an ayyyyyyyy. Winkler said he loved playing the role on Happy Days. The show ran from 1974-84. And thanks to reruns and streaming channels, the show remains a must-watch classic TV series.

“Fonz, first of all, was a lot of fun,” Winkler told the interviewer. “Second of all, he put a roof over my head. And third of all (he) introduced me to the world. But he was my alter ego, the Fonz was everybody I wasn’t. So I could be in control, I could be cool.”

Then Winkler offered up some details that could’ve hurt the image of his Happy Days alter ego. Horrors, the guy who played the Fonz still can’t ride a motorcycle.

“That just is the truth,” he said. “I can’t figure out the gears, the brake, the speed, the thing, you gotta hit with the thing, then the boom … So (Happy Days) put me on a rubber platform, with four rubber wheels and they dragged me behind a truck with a camera. And I looked great, didn’t I. My God, am I cool.” Winkler then does the Fonzie pose as if he’s riding a moto.

Henry Winkler, thanks to Happy Days, became one of the biggest TV stars in the world in the 1970s and 80s. (Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Winkler thought some more about his role, which never was supposed to be a major character on the Happy Days cast. But audiences responded so well to Fonzie, writers expanded his role. Soon, Fonzie was the undisputed star. Winkler appeared in all 255 episodes. So did Tom Bosley., who played Howard Cunningham, aka America’s dad. They were the only two cast members who appeared in every episode.

“There are no downsides, no, no downsides,” to playing the Fonz, Winkler said in the interview. “Because here it is. If there was a downside and I got annoyed with people talking to me about the Fonz, I’d be annoyed a lot. And look how much life I’d miss out on.”

Here’s how much folks still love Fonz and Happy Days. The 76-year-old placed some of his memorabilia up for auction last December. During the run of Happy Days, there were seven leather jackets, the ultimate in Fonzi chic. One sold for $75,312.