When one thinks of Henry Winkler’s Arthur Fonzereli aka “The Fonz” from Happy Days, a connection to the original Law & Order series is hardly where our minds go. However, there is a pretty awesome connection between the two. A cousin connection to be exact as Law & Order’s Richard Belzer is a cousin to Winkler.
Belzer, an actor, and stand-up comedian has become almost synonymous with what we envision to be the Law & Order detective character we have grown to love. In the hit NBC series, Belzer portrays detective John Munch. Not only is Belzer’s John Munch core to the Law & Order OG series, but fans have also seen him in a variety of episodes as he continuously reprises his famous role. Belzer is also known for portraying a similar type of detective on Homicide: Life on the Street.
‘Law & Order’ and ‘Happy Days’ Have Some Surprising Connections…All Thanks To Henry Winkler
Richard Belzer has certainly turned his cool detective character into one of the most popular detectives on television. With his unflappable demeanor, biting one-liners, and dedication to solving crimes, Belzer is a Law & Order mainstay. Even when he’s not currently featured in the franchise. However, his cousin enjoys even more fame. Despite the fact that he wasn’t even intended to star in the series that made him a household name.
When Happy Days premiered in Winkler’s character “The Fonz” the series was intended to simply be a recurring character. However, Winkler’s character became so popular with audiences that he quickly graduated to a returning series character.
“He wasn’t in the original,” notes Happy Days creator Garry Marshall.
“But I soon realized I wanted a character from the other side of the tracks,” the Happy Days showrunner explains.
According to Marshall, he was creating a character in “The Fonz” based on a guy from his own neighborhood growing up in the Bronx. Marshall says this guy, Anthony, could “tie a rope to an ice truck and pull it along with his teeth.” And, the Happy Days creator says, this character type had always been intriguing to him
“I always thought that was magical,” Garry Marshall says.
Winkler Takes A ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Gig, Playing Against His ‘Type’
While Henry Winkler never joined Richard Belzer on the streets of the OG Law & Order series, he did have a memorable role in the show’s wildly successful spin-off, Law & Order: SVU. In this episode titled Greed, Winkler portrays a man named Edwin Todd.
Todd is a con-man posing as a businessman who seemingly dotes on his new wife. He eventually murders his wife in the episode, staging the killing to look like a violent robbery. However, thanks to their tireless dedication to solving the crime, the SVU detectives, quickly bring Winkler’s character to justice.