‘Happy Days’: Henry Winkler Told Story of When He Parted 25,000 Fans in a Texas Mall Like ‘the Red Sea’

by Chris Haney

Happy Days star Henry Winkler once opened up about crazed fans of the hit show and shared a hilarious story about he and his co-stars making a mall appearance at the peak of their stardom.

In November 2006, the Fonzie actor shared some of his experiences as part of the Happy Days cast with the Television Academy Foundation. There were certain times where The Fonz and the rest of the Happy Days crew couldn’t avoid their fame. For instance, when making an appearance with Richie, Potsie, and Ralph at a Dallas, Texas mall. Yet getting out of the mall and back to their car was easier said than done with thousands of rabid fans around.

“25,000 people separated us from the car,” Winkler explained to the Television Academy Foundation. “It was the very first time, and one of the only times, I ever used the character off the soundstage.”

“I looked at the group and I said [as Fonzie], ‘Alright, look, there a lot of you. There’s four of us. You’re going to separate like the Red Sea. We’re going to get to the car, you’re not going to touch us, ya understand?” Winkler said as he made a parting motion with his hands.

The crowd obeyed Winkler’s commands to his surprise. It was as if he had just snapped his fingers on Happy Days and put everyone under The Fonz’s trademark spell.

“Somebody said, ‘Wow, you are so cool.’ I went, ‘Right.’ Somebody said, ‘You are so short.’ I said, ‘F–k you.’ They went, ‘You are so cool,'” Winkler recalls as he bursts out with laughter. “It was also the only time I ever cussed in character. But hey, it worked and we got in that car.”

‘Happy Days’ Star Explains Why Buying Into Your Own Fame Can Be ‘Instant Destruction’

During the same interview, Henry Winkler shared his thoughts on stardom and the price of fame. He says he’s thankful he didn’t become famous until his late 20s, because it’s so tough to deal with. Winkler joked that Happy Days became so big that “people wanted my socks without taking off my shoes.”

In addition, he admits that it could be “scary” at times dealing with that level of fame. But he did learn some things from stardom and shared his perspective on the matter.

“You have got to see [stardom] as a mirage. You can not believe you are more than you are. I didn’t grow, I was still short. My nose was still the same size. I couldn’t wear an Edwardian suit. You can’t get caught up in that because it is instant destruction if you think you are more than you are. If you believe your press. If you start to believe that you are the center of the world,” Winkler says.

However, he thinks if you can keep your head on your shoulders and keep things in perspective, fame can be fun at the same time.

“So when you can then keep that in some kind of check. It’s really objectively fun to look at what’s happening and where you’re going, and who you’re meeting, and who’s talking to you, and who’s saying I like you,” he added.