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Tom Hanks Reveals Kicking Fonzie on ‘Happy Days’ Launched His Legendary Career

by Joe Rutland
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(Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

The legendary career of Oscar winner Tom Hanks actually dates back to a time when he kicked Fonzie on Happy Days. It was in a guest spot on a 1982 episode. But it would lead Hanks to be cast in the 1984 Ron Howard film Splash. Hanks recently talked about it during an interview on SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show.

“I kicked Fonzie,” Hanks, 66, said of hitting Arthur Fonzarelli, played by Henry Winkler. Hanks said, “I got dressed up in a judo karate outfit. And I think I’m legendarily the first guy to actually strike Fonzie. I kicked him through the stained glass window of Al’s drive-in.”

Tom Hanks Played A Rival Of Fonzie On ‘Happy Days’ Episode

Happy Days starred Howard, who directed Splash. Hanks, who currently stars in A Man Called Otto, appeared in the show’s episode titled A Little Case of Revenge. Hanks’ work in the show led to him being cast in Splash. His Happy Days episode popped up in the show’s 10th season. It was the fifth episode of that year. Hanks played a rival of Fonzie who has held a grudge against him since they were in grade school together, the New York Post reports. The actor’s moves on the show apparently caught the attention of Disney executives.

Howard left the Garry Marshall-created ABC sitcom in 1980 to pursue directing. Splash was the first movie to be released under Disney’s new imprint, Touchstone Pictures.

“Ron Howard had already left the show, and he was directing, and they had written this movie called ‘Splash,'” Hanks said. “And it was at Disney, and no one wanted to work for Disney, and no one would take the job. And eventually, they said, ‘Hey, this guy who kicked Fonzie through a plate-glass window might be good.’ And so I ended up auditioning for that.”

Hanks Starred In ‘Splash’ Opposite Daryl Hannah In Ron Howard-Directed Film

Besides Hanks, Splash, a romantic comedy, also starred Daryl Hannah as a mermaid who washes ashore and falls in love with his character. Comedians John Candy and Eugene Levy also were in the cast, too.

Hanks, who played in Forrest Gump, appears to be looking back on his stellar career these days. In an episode of the ReelBlend podcast, Hanks talked about one movie of his that “no one” talks about.

“For one reason or another, no one references ‘Road to Perdition,’ and that was an incredibly important movie for me to go through,” Hanks said. Road to Perdition is a Sam Mendes crime drama, based on the 1998 graphic novel by Max Allan Collins. The film, dated during the Depression, also starred Jude Law and Daniel Craig.

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