HomeEntertainment‘Happy Days’: Henry Winkler Once Explained Why Fonzie Was ‘As Far From’ Him as Possible

‘Happy Days’: Henry Winkler Once Explained Why Fonzie Was ‘As Far From’ Him as Possible

by Suzanne Halliburton
Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic for HBO

Heeeeeey. We know Happy Days was the coolest show because of a motorcycle-riding, leather jacket-wearing character named Fonzie.

Henry Winkler played the Fonz, the high school dropout, for all 255 episodes of Happy Days. Winkler was so brilliant, he elevated what was supposed to be a secondary character into a pop-culture phenomenon.

In an interview in 2011, Winkler talked about how he was so different in real life than the character he played on TV.

“What is interesting is that I went to college and studied drama,” said Winkler, who earned degrees from Emerson College and Yale.

 “I went to drama school and got a master’s degree. So I really wanted to be prepared. I really love my job. I am filled with gratitude that I get to do my job. The Fonz was as far from me as you could possibly be.

“I’m playing this tough Italian; I’m a short Jew. He rode a motorcycle, and I had trouble with a two-wheeler.  So that’s my job, is to create these people and make them come so to life that I’m having fun and you’re having fun watching.”

It Wasn’t Just Happy Days — Henry Winkler Always Is a Scene Stealer

Winkler did that with just about every character he played. During this interview in 2011, he wasn’t there to talk about Happy Days. Rather, he was on the show Royal Pains. He played the con-man father of two of the main characters. He lauded the show.

“So I thoroughly enjoy Eddie,” Winkler said. “And I’ll repeat it again because there is this room of writers in Los Angeles and they are young. And then there are veteran writers in that room who could, and each one of these people could run their own show.  So when I say it’s well written, it, these people are great at what they do. “

In 2018, the guy who played Fonzie on Happy Days won his first Emmy. He was named Best Supporting Actor in a comedy series for portraying Gene Cousineau in HBO’s Barry. When he accepted the award, Winkler received a standing ovation.

He said in his acceptance speech: “I only have 37 seconds. I wrote this 43 years ago.” And he wasn’t kidding.

He thanked his long-time agent. “Can I just say Skip Brittenham said to me a long time ago, ‘If you stay at the table long enough, the chips come to you,’ and tonight I got to clear the table.”

Then he told his kids to go to sleep, like he would’ve four decades before.

So heeeeey. The Fonz from Happy Days, the leather-jacket-wearing, motorcycle-riding star finally took home the trophy.