Lots of celebrities don’t stay humble, but Henry Winkler sure tried his best. In an Emmy TV Legends interview, the former Happy Days star talked about the height of his fame. With clear shock and awe, he spoke of how he stayed sane during those times.
“You have got to see it as a mirage,” he said. “You cannot believe you are more than you are.” During Happy Days, Winkler’s iconic role as Fonzie meant he was one of the most recognizable faces around. While it would be a lot of people’s dream come true, the sudden fame and recognition would obviously be overwhelming.
“I didn’t grow. I was still short. My nose was still the same size,” he said. But from the way people treated Winkler at the time, it was as if he was a higher being.
Thankfully, Winkler had a good enough head on his shoulders to try and balance his new Happy Days caused fame with humility.
“You can’t get caught up in that,” he said, “because it is instant destruction. If you think you are more than you are, if you believe your press, if you start to believe you are the center of the world.”
His role of Fonzie was so iconic that the Smithsonian asked for his jackets.
Winkler’s Success on ‘Happy Days’
Happy Days ran from 1974 to 1984. Winkler’s character, Fonzie “The Fonz,” is who many consider the face of the show. Surprisingly, Fonzie wasn’t supposed to be a main character at first. Fonzie became so well-loved by audiences that he became a part of the main cast.
Fonzie was originally supposed to be a comedic bit character who would hop in from time to time. His surprising hold on audiences lead to rumors that the rest of the cast had to be bitter towards Winkler. Winkler made sure to clarify that that wasn’t the case and that the cast was totally professional about his surprising rise to fame.
Though, internally, it was difficult for some of them to manage. Marion Ross, who played Mrs. Cunningham, wrote in her book, My Days: Happy and Otherwise, that some of the cast often felt overshadowed by “The Fonz.” But it was never about Winkler.
Thankfully, Winkler truly did his best to treat his rise to fame as that “mirage.”
“[Winkler] never acted like he was the star or was better than anyone else,” Ross wrote of the star. Now, Winkler, Ross, and co-star Ron Howard are still close and sometimes meet up for meals.