‘Happy Days’ Icon Henry Winkler’s Attitude on Landing a Role Are Words To Live By

by Chase Thomas
(Photo by Fotos International/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Happy Days brought Henry Winkler fame one could ever believe was possible as The Fonz. He was a cultural icon in America while starring on the show, but, after starring on the show for a number of years it led to some hard times. It was difficult to shake the character from the actor. He was not just The Fonz, but that is how directors and producers still saw him.

Naturally, that began to weigh on Winkler, as it weighed on Ron Howard, his co-star on Happy Days as Richie Cunningham, when Winkler became the star of the show and he fell to the background.

Winkler said of finding the right role, “If you’re supposed to have it, you will have it. If you’re supposed to get a role, it will come to you. I tried, it didn’t. Sometimes it did.”

This applies to all aspects of life. It’s a great mindset to have when looking at one’s own career and life. You have to have faith and trust that things will work out the way they were always intended to work out. Winkler got some roles and passed them over to others. Sometimes it was because of his earlier roles, and sometimes it wasn’t. He put himself out there, though, time and time again. That’s what matters, is that message of keeping at it. You never know until you try.

Winkler continued, “If I look back from the time I arrived in Hollywood on the 18th of September 1973, I’ve had a most amazing career.” What a great way of looking at his time in Hollywood. He is clearly content with how things unfolded. He made the best of his opportunities and he did the best he could. While so many Hollywood actors may have lots of “what-ifs”, that is not the case with Winkler.

Ron Howard and ‘Happy Days’

Howard, Winkler’s co-star on Happy Days, was the original star of the program, but Winkler’s character grew to become the most popular. Because of that the questions soon followed. The questions from the press bothered Howard, as one could imagine. Howard said of the time, “The press kept saying, ‘What’s it like? Do you feel that you’ve become a second-class citizen on your own show?’ and these kinds of things.”

He was going through, much like Winkler went through it after the conclusion of Happy Days. Either way, it worked out for both actors in the end, as Howard become an all-time great director in Hollywood and Winkler became an all-time great actor on television where he still acts today on shows like Arrested Development and Barry.