‘Happy Days’ Legend Henry Winkler Didn’t Think He Could Produce, Immediately Made ‘MacGyver’

by Clayton Edwards

There are few Hollywood stories more inspiring than that of Henry Winkler. From a young age, the adults who should have been nurturing him worked to tear him down. His teachers as well as his parents called him stupid on a regular basis. In fact, Winkler’s parents had a nickname for him. They called him “dummer hund,” which is German for “dumb dog.” Why did they do this? Because he had dyslexia.

He wouldn’t be diagnosed with the disability until his thirties. However, he didn’t let that stop him. Winkler attended Yale University. Then, he stepped into the role of The Fonz. That role helped to kickstart his Hollywood career.

Henry Winkler could barely read his scripts on Happy Days. You would never know that from watching his masterful performance as the iconic greaser, though. In fact, Fonzie is what made that show so popular. So, after that show ended Winkler had some serious aspirations. However, he also had some doubts and insecurities. He overcame those to create one of the coolest shows of the eighties and nineties.

Henry Winkler opened up about his misgivings in a 2017 interview with AARP.

Henry Winkler on Producing MacGyver

Winkler told AARP that times were hard after Happy Days ended. Henry Winkler was wading into the deeper waters of Hollywood and was unsure of himself. After over a decade of steady work, he needed a new project. He teamed up with his pals John Rich and Lee David Zlotoff to create something new. In the end, they came up with the idea for MacGyver. The show about a special agent who could make just about anything out of mundane objects would go on to be a hit. However, Winkler was all but lost going into the project.

Henry Winkler told his lawyer that there was no way he could be a producer. He had no idea what he was doing, according to the interview. However, his lawyer simply told him, “You’ll learn.” In the end, he did. The trio formed Henry Winkler-John Rich Productions and pitched the show to several networks. Eventually, they sold the idea to Paramount and ABC picked it up. MacGyver ran from 1985 until 1992. It was rebooted in 2016.

Henry Winkler’s lawyer was correct. He learned. In fact, he went on to serve as a producer on several movies and television shows. His IMDb profile boasts over 40 producer’s credits. Interestingly, Winkler also took that position for the 2016 reboot of MacGyver.