‘Happy Days’: Why Henry Winkler Called Fonzie a ‘Beautiful Shadow’

by Chris Haney

In 2012, Happy Days star Henry Winkler opened up about his role as Fonzie and said he doesn’t mind that the famous character casts a shadow over him.

During a Q&A session with Connecticut Magazine, Winkler spoke about his entire career, including his then current projects. He talked about his education, his struggles with dyslexia, and his character on Happy Days. From 1974 to 1984, Winkler played “The Fonz” and became one of television’s most well-known characters seemingly overnight.

The interviewer questioned Winkler about just how big Fonzie became, not only back then, but even now. The Happy Days star shared that the character does cast a huge shadow over him, and always will. However, he seems totally at peace with that, and is still surprised how many people love the show and “The Fonz.”

“Absolutely—a beautiful shadow,” Winkler said to Connecticut Magazine. “The shadow is as wonderful as the video I have of my granddaughter discovering her own shadow. Her mother happened to have her iPhone out, and you see this little girl bouncing around, chasing her shadow on the sidewalk—that’s how wonderful my shadow is.

“So he’s still as popular an icon as ever,” the Happy Days actor continued. “It’s shocking to me, but yes. People all over the world tweet me about what he meant to them. Their children, who are in the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grades come up to me and I say to them, “All right—how many people have seen ‘Happy Days’?” The majority raise their hand. They see it on YouTube, they see it on The HUB, they see it because their parents wanted to share it with them. It’s amazing. He keeps marching on. And then, another generation talks to me about Waterboy. And another talks to me about Arrested Development.”

‘Happy Days’ Star Henry Winkler Explains Why He Took More Risks Later in His Career

That same year, the Happy Days star talked about branching out with the roles he took later in life. The Fonzie actor is obviously most well-known for his famous greaser character from his time on Happy Days. But as the years went by, he began to take more and more risks with his roles.

Winkler spoke with the Daily Actor and opened up about some of his various roles through the years. He starred in movies like 1982’s Night Shift and the 1998 Adam Sandler football movie The Waterboy. In addition, Winkler also starred in the 1996 horror movie Scream.

The actor also branched out with the television characters he played too. Winkler starred in nine episodes of Parks and Recreation and 30 episodes of Arrested Development. The Happy Days actor has taken on numerous other parts in films and TV. But the interviewer wanted to dig deeper and find out what made him decide to take on these riskier roles.

“If I feel it in my stomach, if I think, oh I can do that, I will just say yes.  And then the things that don’t sound right to me, I will not participate in,” he explained to Daily Actor.

“But, how lucky? There are so many actors who are sitting at home and I get to do all this wonderful stuff,” he said at the time. “I have a movie coming out in October that is called Here Comes the Boom that is starring Kevin James and Salma Hayek. I do a wonderful show, a more traditional show called Children’s Hospital. And then I do an even more traditional show called Royal Pains, which is a lot of fun. I just came back from New York shooting those episodes. So I live by two words, tenacity and gratitude, and I am filled with both.”