‘Happy Days’ Actor Henry Winkler Revealed Gauntlet of Acting School, Why He Never Attends Reunions

by Suzanne Halliburton
Photo by Andrew Chin/Getty Images)

Happy Days star Henry Winkler sports a prestigious Ivy League degree. But he’s not too keen on going back to see any of his former classmates. Too much anxiety.

Winkler, known to millions of Happy Days fans as the Fonz, earned his undergraduate degree from Emerson in 1967. Then he enrolled at Yale’s drama program. He secured his Masters of Fine Arts three years later. The school not only was prestigious, but difficult.

Winkler discussed his time at Yale with the Crazed Fan Boy entertainment site.

Henry Winkler said: “Twenty-five actors started with me at Yale. Eleven finished the program. Three were asked into the company. James Naughton, who went on to win Tony Awards on Broadway, Jill Eikenberry of “LA Law” fame, and me. I almost never go to reunions. I’m not exactly sure why, but I have an aversion to them. I think I noticed that I break out in a rash thinking about them.”

Happy Days Star Probably Was Class of 70’s Most Famous Student

You could say Winkler, who made Fonzie and Happy Days into pop culture phenoms, was the star of Yale Drama.

But Eikenberry and Naughton have enjoyed significant careers, too.

While Winkler found almost immediate success with Happy Days, Eikenberry was a major figure in 1980s TV. The show L.A. Law was a top-rated drama series. Steven Bochco, who created Hill Street Blues, Doogie Howser and NYPD Blue, gave Americans a drama that focused on legal issues and the private lives of very attractive lawyers.

David Kelley, who has created a number of top shows, got his start as a co-writer on this series. Eikenberry played Ann Kelsey, one of the firm’s top lawyers. She was nominated for five Emmys for her role.

Then there’s Naughton. He was most comfortable on stage. Naughton won two Tonys – for Chicago and City of Angels. He’s done a ton of voice work for commercials and has appeared in TV shows and movies.

Winkler has been nominated for seven Emmys. Three of them were for Best Actor for playing Fonzie on Happy Days.

However, Winkler didn’t win an Emmy until 2018. And that was for his role on Barry. The HBO comedy/drama, which focuses on a Marine turned hitman, is nothing like Happy Days. Instead, Winkler plays Gene Cousineau. And get this, he’s an acting coach. He probably drew a lot on his experience at Yale to give his first-ever major acting hardware.

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