‘Happy Days’: Henry Winkler Once Said He Used ‘Tremendous Underlying Anger’ Playing Fonzie

by Clayton Edwards

“Happy Days” is one of the most iconic sitcoms in television history. Some would say that the show wouldn’t have been so big without Fonzie. Even now, decades later, he is the epitome of cool The slicked back hair, leather jacket, and classic attitude made the character the center of attention for the show. After a couple of episodes, fans fell in love with his smooth personality and rough edges. At the heart of the character was the young actor Henry Winkler. When asked how he stepped into the role, he said one thing that helped him do it was his underlying anger.

That makes sense. There’ is something menacing about the Fonz. He has a good heart but everyone knows that it only takes one wrong move to bring his wrath down. Several times in the show, he is ready to go to blows with characters who cross his line. Without the anger that simmered deep inside Henry Winkler “Happy Days” may not have been so popular. Winkler didn’t have a way to properly express his anger and The Fonz gave him the outlet he needed. It was a give and take. The Fonz gave Winkler an outlet. At the same time, Winkler gave Fonzie his edge.

What Made the “Happy Days” Star So Angry?

In an interview with The Television Academy Foundation, Winkler discusses what gave him the anger that made his “Happy Days” character so great. Winkler is dyslexic. He didn’t receive a diagnosis for the disorder until years after he landed the role of Fonzie. Until then, parents and teachers pinned a different label on him. To them, Henry Winkler was just stupid. While he bought into their misguided opinion, it made him incredibly angry. He carried that with him throughout his childhood and early adult years.

In his mind, it is this that made him perfect to play the “Happy Days” character. He said, “There were so many people who tried to be the Fonz. And they forget the undercurrent that was underneath it. It was probably the anger that I had that I didn’t have any idea how to express for being called stupid and being grounded and whatever it is.”

His anger is understandable. No one likes to be called stupid. This is especially true when the insult is coming from those who are supposed to have your best interest at heart. On the other hand, Winkler and generations of “Happy Days,” fans are fortunate for the insults. Without them, he may not have had the fire inside him to bring the Fonz to life.