‘Happy Days’: One Star’s Uncle Is Dr. Henry Heimlich, Inventor of the ‘Heimlich Maneuver’

by Matthew Wilson

“Happy Days” was a massively popular sitcom for its era and has become a classic in the years since. But one actor had a famous relative for an entirely different reason. Anson Williams played Warren “Potsie” Weber on the show. But his real-life uncle was Dr. Henry Heimlich, inventor of the Heimlich Maneuver.

The Heimlich Maneuver has saved countless lives since the good doctor invented it. People use the maneuver when people are choking to dislodge food from the esophagus. Many basic health classes teach the procedure due to its ease of use and ability to save someone’s life in an emergency.

But Heimlich was also uncle to the “Happy Days” star and was an influential figure in his life. Though he made a career in acting and directing, Williams eventually decided to follow Heimlich into the family business of saving lives. In Smashing Interviews Magazine in 2017, Williams discussed a potentially life saving product that he created with his uncle.

The ‘Happy Days’ Star and His Uncle

With his uncle, the “Happy Days” star developed a product called Alert Drops. The two designed the product to battle drowsy driving. Williams conceived the idea for the product after his uncle urged him to bite into lemons when he got sleepy behind the wheel.

“My uncle, Dr. Henry Heimlich, who created the Heimlich maneuver, was a tremendous influence in my life. In fact, when I went into the product business about 18 years ago, he was a big influence over what we did,” Williams told the outlet. “Anyway, when Dr. Heimlich found out that I fell asleep at the wheel, he told me to just bite into lemons. He explained how the natural citric acid and sour taste from a lemon stimulates the tongue’s trigeminal nerve. Which is the largest nerve in your cranial area, and one of the satellite nerves is called the lingual.”

Heimlich passed away in 2016 at 96-years-old. The doctor had a heart attack at his home. Williams remembered a final conversation that he had with his uncle.

“In one of our last conversations, he said, ‘Anson, please get these Alert Drops out to everybody. It will save more lives than the Heimlich maneuver,'” Williams said. “Dr. Heimlich’s philosophy was, ‘We’re all going to die. We need to leave something behind good that doesn’t.’ That was a huge motivation for me.”