Ron Howard’s lead character on Happy Days was quickly overshadowed by Henry Winkler’s Fonzie. But it didn’t bother Howard at all.
When Happy Days got its start in 1964, Row Howard’s Richie Cunningham was “the undeniable” star of the show. But after a few episodes, Fonzie stole the limelight.
“Now, Henry, from the very first episode, Henry Winkler, Playing the Fonz, just with a few lines, just had this remarkable character.”
Ron Howard didn’t mind Winkler’s success, though. The two quickly became close friends, and that friendship “endures to this day.” In fact, Winkler is the godfather to all four of Ron Howard’s kids. And on top of that, Howard had aspirations of being a film writer. In 2009, he won his first two Oscars for writing and directing A Beautiful Mind.
So starring in a hit sitcom wasn’t his final stop. And instead of feeling jealous, Howard thought it was “amazing to be around” Winkler and his bright character.
“We immediately bonded and became great friends,” he shared. “We were a fantastic ensemble. We all got along great.”
But what Ron Howard did mind was the disrespectful treatment that followed. According to Howard, Fonzie became a pop-culture obsession, which Howard said was “very exciting.” But when the attention moved away from Richie Cunningham, Howard’s bosses started abusing him.
“The executives, studio heads, network heads, they, started treating me with a lot of disrespect,” he shared. “From a business standpoint, just in terms of interaction, and the press, kept saying ‘what’s it like?’ or ‘do you feel like a second class citizen on your own show?’ these kinds of things, which I didn’t feel within the workspace. And I certainly didn’t feel within our friendship.”
‘Happy Days’ Star Henry Winkler Remembers the First Time He Ever Met Ron Howard
While working on Happy Days together, Ron Howard and Henry Winkler became as close as family. And in a recent interview, Winkler remembered when the two first met.
When Henry Winkler joined the cast of Happy Days, he was new to the industry. And during one of his first days at work, he was struggling with a few of his lines.
“I didn’t know how to make a joke that was written and I started to punch the script,” Winkler told WGN Morning News.
Luckily for Winkler, Ron Howard, a seasoned film star, was nearby and ready to help.
“[Ron Howard] put his arm around me, he’s 18 and I am 26, and he walked me to the back of the sound stage,” Winkler recalled. “He says, ‘You know…I don’t think we should hit the script. The writers are working as hard as they can.’”
“I said ‘Ron, I will never hit my script again as long as I live.’”