‘Happy Days’ Creator Garry Marshall Taught Henry Winkler ‘How To Be on a Set’ and Respect Everyone

by Chris Haney
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In June, Happy Days star Henry Winkler opened up about the classic show’s creator Garry Marshall and credited him for teaching him to respect others on the set of a film or TV show.

Everyone knows Winkler’s breakout role of Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli. While the part was meant to be a minor role at first, his character began to steal scenes early on. The Fonz took on a life of his own as he quickly became a household name and went on to become one of TV’s most beloved characters ever.

Yet a young Henry Winkler was still new to Hollywood and new to working on a TV set. While speaking to interviewer Jonathan Alter over the summer, he was asked about Happy Days creator Garry Marshall. Alter asked Winkler about the best piece of advice he ever got from the showrunner. It turns out, Marshall helped form the way Winkler would act on set for the rest of his career.

“He taught me how to be on a set,” Henry Winkler said in the interview. “He had time for everyone. One night, I was rushing to make my first personal appearance. I was going to get $1,000 to show up in Little Rock, Arkansas and sign autographs at the mall. I went up to him during the Friday night filming with members of the guest cast and I said, ‘Can we hurry it up because I have to fly?’ And he waited and then he put down the microphone, and he held me against the wall.”

“And he said, ‘They [the guest cast] have every right to be introduced— just like you in the beginning. What he showed me was respect for the total of the ensemble behind and in front of the camera,” the Happy Days star added.

‘Happy Days’ Star Couldn’t ‘Believe’ the Praise for His Fonzie Role

One of the many reasons fans love Henry Winkler is his humility. Every time you hear the Happy Days star speak or give an interview, the man seems far removed from the Hollywood star in TV shows and movies.

He’s spoken before about staying grounded and that fame is fleeting. The modest actor attributes this thought process partially to his formative years. Although Winkler wasn’t diagnosed with it until he was 31, he struggled with dyslexia in school and during his acting career. He bought into people calling him stupid even though he earned a Masters degree from the prestigious Yale University.

Therefore once Happy Days premiered and Fonzie-mania ensued, he had a really hard time believing in his own success.

“When the Fonz hit, it was so big and it was so worldwide. I did not believe that what people were saying could possibly be true,” said the Happy Days star. “I had been told all my life that I was stupid and would never achieve. So now all these people are telling me I’m the coolest guy on the planet. That can’t be true because I’ve imprinted on the stupidity part.

“So I never absorbed it,” he continued. “I only saw it as a practical thing that allowed me to earn a living, and keep a roof over my head and my family’s and food on the table. I only saw it practically. (And) I never saw it emotionally, which was good for me.”

Outsider.com