Happy Birthday Henry Winkler: Celebrating the ‘Happy Days’ Icon

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Champagne Collet)

Henry Winkler became a mainstay in the entertainment industry over four decades ago with Happy Days. The Fonz launched him into nationwide prominence. However, that role was not the beginning of his career nor would it be the end. Winkler has worked both in front of the camera and behind it to bring great films and series over the years. Additionally, he co-penned a series of inspirational children’s books. Today, everyone’s favorite shark-jumping, motorcycle-riding, jukebox-fixing greaser turns 76. To celebrate, let’s take a look back at his life and career.

Henry Winkler Before Happy Days

Before landing on Happy Days, Henry Winkler appeared in several television shows and movies as well as TV commercials. You can see him in episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Another World, and The Bob Newhart Show. However, the role that helped push him into the character that made his career was in Lords of Flatbush. In that film, Winkler played a greaser named Butchey Weinstein and starred alongside a young Sylvester Stallone. Check out his proto-Fonzy character in the trailer below.

Winkler Behind the Camera

Today, Henry Winkler has over 100 credits as an actor. These include appearances in movies and TV shows as well as voice acting roles. Additionally, Winkler served as a producer and director for several films and series. For instance, he and his partners created and produced the classic TV show MacGyver which premiered in 1985. Winkler also produced the remake of the series that premiered in 2016.

Henry Winkler’s directorial credits are mostly limited to episodes of TV shows. He directed an episode of the Happy Days spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi among other sitcom and series installments. Winkler also directed the 1993 Burt Reynolds comedy Cop & ½.

Henry Winkler: An Inspiration for Kids

Sure, Henry Winkler was The Fonz and brought us MacGyver. However, I don’t see that as the apex of his awesomeness. Winker’s story is an inspiration for kids with learning difficulties. He is dyslexic but didn’t know that until after he already started on Happy Days. By then, he was nearly 30 and still had trouble reading his scripts. After he received the diagnosis, he found ways to work through the dyslexia.

Years later, Henry Winkler began writing a series of children’s books that center around a boy named Hank Zipzer. Hank has also has dyslexia and the books show how he lives an awesome life despite the learning disorder.

Being Fonzy is cool and all, but inspiring a whole generation of kids who need it most? To borrow a phrase from Winkler’siconic character, “Whoa.”

To top it all off, Henry Winkler remains one of the sweetest and most down-to-earth people in Hollywood. Head over to his Twitter and show him some birthday love!