‘Happy Days’: Did Fonzie Actor Henry Winkler Do His Own Stunt for ‘Jump the Shark’ Scene?

by John Jamison

Of course not. Are you crazy? There’s no way the producers were going to let their “Happy Days” golden boy go soaring 30 feet into the air off of a water ramp for the sake of a 10-second shot. But before you click away, Outsiders, there’s more to this story than meets the eye.

For example, did you know that the only reason Henry Winkler’s Fonzie jumped the shark in “Happy Days” episode “Hollywood: Part 3” was because he actually could shred on waterskis? Mhm. And now that we have your attention again, it’s worth mentioning that Winkler’s dad was the one who convinced the Fonz actor to tell “Happy Days” creator Garry Marshall about his watersports background in the first place. It doesn’t get any more wholesome than a proud dad bringing about an iconic television moment.

“My father kept nagging me to tell producer Garry Marshall I was a good waterskier; I taught waterskiing. I told Garry, ‘My father wants you to know I waterski.’ Next thing, the Fonz is jumping the shark while on water skis,” Winkler told AARP The Magazine in 2017.

So Winkler wasn’t the person physically jumping the shark. It makes perfect sense why “Happy Days” would never let that happen. But it is a bit disappointing, admittedly. However, before you walk away feeling cheated by camera tricks and stunt doubles, know that Henry Winkler did end up using his ski skills for the episode.

He may not be the person soaring through the air. But according to an interview he did with Oprah in 2015, Winkler did all of the stunt water skiing work short of the jump itself. Yes. That’s the same Fonz we know and love zooming across the water before and after the infamous jump.

Despite the Stunt’s Legacy, ‘Happy Days’ Writer Fred Fox Jr. Defended the Shark Jump

If you’re a fan of television, you’ve likely come across the phrase “jumped the shark” before. The iconic shark moment from “Happy Days” was widely considered the beginning of the end for the hit show. These days, critics apply the phrase to any show that has begun to decline.

But Fred Fox Jr., one of the writers on that fateful episode of “Happy Days,” begs to differ. And the guy brings up some solid points.

“All successful shows eventually start to decline, but this was not ‘Happy Days” time. Consider: It was the 91st episode and the fifth season. If this was really the beginning of a downward spiral, why did the show stay on the air for six more seasons and shoot an additional 164 episodes? Why did we rank among the Top 25 in five of those six seasons?” Fox wrote in the Los Angeles Times.