Henry Winkler gave a socially distant interview from his home and made sure to show off his prized leather jacket from Happy Days.
During an appearance on The Tonight Show in May 2020, host Jimmy Fallon brought up his love for Happy Days. Fallon heard that Winkler likes to keep a memento from every set he works on. Of course, there’s nothing more obvious for Winkler to keep from Happy Days than his beloved character Fonzie’s famous leather jacket.
However, ironically “The Fonz” didn’t even wear the leather jacket during season one of the show. Additionally, Happy Days creators intended for Winkler’s character Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli to be a supporting role. He originally had few lines in the show and wore a green windbreaker during the first season. Yet Fonzie became a fan favorite quickly, and producers increased his role on on the show. Along with his increased role, they gave him a new costume to fit his cool guy image.
By season two, Winkler began wearing his trademark brown leather jacket, which is arguably the most famous jacket ever worn on television. During his talk with Fallon, Winkler showed off “the” jacket to the gawking host.
“That’s The Fonz’s jacket. Well, they made five, and they put them under lock and key. And I got one of them,” Winkler explained while holding up the iconic jacket.
So Winkler owns one of the five leather jackets from his years on Happy Days, and deservedly so. But where’s the other four jackets? Although it’s unclear where three of them are located, one of them also hangs in the Smithsonian Museum.
‘Happy Days’ Execs Worried About Fonzie’s Bad Boy Image
As the “The Fonz” became a standout star on Happy Days, executives worried that his bad boy image may clash with the show’s clean-cut standards. Therefore, producers came up with a strange solution.
Marion Ross, who played Richie’s mother during all 11 seasons, talked about Fonzie’s wardrobe change in her 2018 memoir My Days: Happy and Otherwise. Ross called Fonzie’s famous leather jacket “nonexistent” at first. Winkler helped establish Fonzie as a slick-talking greaser and ladies man, but network producers were concerned about his image.
During the first half of season one of Happy Days, Fonzie wore a “god-awful windbreaker,” as Ross described it. Fans definitely don’t picture “The Fonz” in a windbreaker when they think of the iconic TV character. In fact, Ross called Winkler’s initial look “dorky,” which is the exact opposite of who “The Fonz” is.
“As for the absence of his leather jacket, that was dictated by the brass at ABC, who felt it would make him look like a criminal,” Ross wrote in her book.
Producers were concerned that Fonzie’s image would look too menacing. Executives didn’t think a leather jacket would fit with the show’s wholesome image. Therefore, the show came up with a strange compromise so Winkler could wear his soon to be famous leather jacket.
“(Creator Garry Marshall) was more than aware that the character Henry had created screamed for a black leather jacket,” Ross wrote. “And so, after a bit of negotiating (the television term for arguing) with the powers that be, a compromise was struck. The network agreed to let him wear a leather jacket on one condition: he had to be either on or with his motorcycle.”
Winkler went on to turn Fonzie into one of the most lovable and popular characters in TV history. Fans gravitated to the protective cool guy greaser. Eventually, Fonzie didn’t have to rely on the motorcycle to wear his signature leather jacket. The jacket became a part of “The Fonz,” like his slicked-back hair and his uncanny touch when fixing the jukebox.