‘Happy Days’ Creator Garry Marshall Described the Moment Fonzie’s ‘Magic’ Went the Furthest

by Katie Maloney
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Fonzie was more than just great hair, leather jackets, and famous catchphrases. The Happy Days icon also had a little magic in him.

Henry Winkler’s Arthur Fonzarelli, The Fonz, or Fonzie, was originally written as a secondary character. However, he quickly surpassed the lead characters in popularity. So, he ended up as one of only two characters (along with Howard Cunningham) to appear in all 255 episodes of Happy Days. It takes some magic to make that happen. During an interview, Henry Winkler talked about some of his own magic that he sprinkled on his character. He wanted Fonzie to be original, not simply a replica of all the other television show cool guys.

“Everyone who’s ever played a Fonz-like cool character has always done the same things– combed their hair, stuck cigarette packets up the sleeve of their T-shirt. I swore I wouldn’t do any of that,” said Winkler. “Then, in the pilot, I had to look in a mirror. I told the director, ‘I can’t comb my hair, I made a deal with myself.’ He replied: ‘It’s written. You have to.’

However, Winkler had a trick up his sleeve that would solidify Fonzie as a new kind of cool guy.

“So I walked up, held up my comb, then went: ‘Heeeey … that’s perfect, I don’t need to comb.’ That moment defined the Fonz. I got the ‘Heeeey’ and the ‘Whoaaa’ from my favorite sport at the time – horse-riding.”

Henry Winkler as Fonzie on Happy Days

Did Fonzie Have Magical Powers?

There was another quality that set Fonzie apart from other cools guys – he had magical powers. Well, sort of. He could get a jukebox to play a song just by hitting it, does that count? During the same interview, Winkler debunked that magic.

“And I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, but if you hit a jukebox at the same time as a man named Fred plugs it in, you too can start a song playing. You too can make magic,” joked Winkler.

So, maybe the jukebox powers weren’t so magical. But Fonzie could also talk to animals. In fact, Happy Days creator, Gary Marshall said they specifically chose to sprinkle a little magic on the Fonz.

“The furthest we took his ‘magic’ was when the gang went camping in the woods. All the crickets and owls were making loads of noise and he says, ‘Cool it!’ And they stop instantly,” said Marshall.

However, there was one more magical quality that Fonzie possessed – he could fight aliens. During an episode of Happy Days, Richie (played by Ron Howard) encounters an oddball alien, Mork from Ork. Mork was played by comedy legend Robin Williams. Mork decides that he wants to take Richie back to his home planet as a specimen to study. Richie enlists Fonzie to help him escape the alien abductor. And, after an epic battle, Fonzie saves Richie. Richie later wakes up and believes it was all a dream.

Kind of an odd plot for a television show set in 1950s Milwaukee, Wisconsin, right? Well, it turns out that Gary Marshall wrote the episode for his son who loved Star Wars.

“Mork was the craziest plot, though. My son was into Star Wars and moaned there wasn’t enough space in Happy Days,” said Marshall. Robin Williams had only played one part before, a farmer, so it was me who gave him his big break.”

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