‘Happy Days’: A Young Henry Winkler Only Gave Himself a Month in Hollywood to Find Work

by Katie Maloney
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Some actors spend years struggling to make it before landing a life-changing role. But not “Happy Days” actor Henry Winkler. He wasn’t going to put himself through that. Instead, he decided to give himself one month in Hollywood to make a name for himself. For many, that may seem like a tall order but it worked for Winkler. Just two weeks after moving to California he landed the role of his lifetime. During an interview in 2018, Winkler talked about his first month in show business.

“I got to California with my one bag, my one thousand dollars and only a month to find out if I could make it or not,” said Winkler. “And my agent at the time said ‘I think it’s going to be really hard to sell you.'”

Winkler feared that he made a huge mistake. But just a couple weeks later things took a turn for the better.

“Two weeks later I got the Fonz,” said Winkler. “Hello!”

However, Henry Winkler also revealed his original idea for the Fonz. Spoiler alert: It didn’t work.

“Well, you know, I did originally do the Fonz with a British accent. And that didn’t work,” said Winkler as he bursts out laughing. “So I went to Brooklyn and that made the difference.”

What Is Henry Winkler’s Only Regret?

The Fonz certainly did make a difference for Henry Winkler’s career. Winkler was originally cast to play the side character Arthur Fonzarelli on “Happy Days.” However, fans loved his character so much he became a lead on the show. In fact, after Ron Howard left “Happy Days,” the show centered around Henry Winkler’s Fonzie. The Fonz became one of the most merchandised characters of the 1970s – you could anything from t-shirts to lunch boxes with his face and name on them.

However, there’s one thing that Henry Winkler regrets. And it’s not accepting the lead role in the movie “Grease.” Winkler was originally offered the part of Danny in the movie. But he turned it down. Actor John Travolta accepted the part and his career took off from there. During an interview in 2017, Henry Winkler talked about his regrets.

“I turned down the lead role in ‘Grease.‘ Didn’t want to be typecast. But you’re typecast anyway. And it’s not now that I’m, like, ‘Oh, I should’ve done the role.’ It’s that I turned it down intellectually instead of instinctually. Listen to your gut — it knows everything. Your head knows only some things. So I went home and had an orange juice. Travolta went home and bought a plane.”

Outsider.com