‘Happy Days’ Star Henry Winkler Revealed the ‘Only’ Reason Why it Was Irritating to Be Called ‘Fonzie’ in 1979

by Joe Rutland

Henry Winkler loved playing “Fonzie” on “Happy Days.” It made him a household name. In 1979, he said being called “Fonzie” was irritating.

Why? “Only because they want me to be the Fonz and there’s no way I could possibly be the Fonz, you know,” Winkler said in an interview with Bobbie Wygant. “He is a fantastic character. Not that he’s fantastic but that he is almost a fantasy character with what he can do.”

Winkler, who was speaking with Wygant while promoting his movie “The One and Only,” talks about filming his most recent “Happy Days” episode.

‘Happy Days’ Actor Said Kids Pick Up Quick On Calling Him By Real Name

“I have a duel with a spaceman who came down to take Richie Cunningham [Ron Howard] back to his planet,” Winkler said. “What I do, in order to win, is pretty outrageous.”

It’s a pretty timely moment, considering the episode Winkler is referencing is the mainstream debut of Robin Williams as “Mork.”

The actor, who played “Fonzie” for the entire “Happy Days” 11-season run on ABC, said, “I’d rather not [be] called the Fonz, you know. That’s the only thing that annoys me.

“My name is Henry and that’s the way that is,” he said. “If I’m meeting young children, they’re the quickest to pick that up. They all say, ‘Hi Henry, how are you and it’s nice to see you.’ The press, as usual, will always stick in the Fonz somewhere in their byline.”

During his interview Wygant, it is Winkler who speaks. There is no hint of impersonating the Fonz at all. It’s something he simply didn’t do in public.

Winkler Didn’t Win First Emmy Award Until 2018 For Work On ‘Barry’

Winkler was no slouch as an actor when show creator/producer Garry Marshall added him to the cast. He had just filmed “The Lords of Flatbush” with Sylvester Stallone and was a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.

A lot of modern-day TV viewers are familiar with Winkler through his role as Gene Cousineau on “Barry.” In 2018, Winkler won an Emmy Award as “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series” for his work on the show. He never won an Emmy for his work on “Happy Days” even at the height of his character’s popularity.

Winkler would add a second Emmy from the same category, for the same role, in 2019.

His life beyond “Happy Days” includes work as a director and producer. Among other TV shows that he’s been involved with behind the camera include “MacGyver” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.”

Beyond that, Henry Winkler is an accomplished author, quite a feat for someone born with dyslexia. His books sold more than two million copies.

But it is for “Happy Days” that classic TV fans will remember him for from generation to generation. His “Fonzie” character still holds a fond place in fans’ hearts from that time. Winkler, though, is probably just glad people don’t call him the Fonz too much these days.