‘Happy Days’ Star Henry Winkler Turned Down Lead Role in ‘Grease’, Expressed Regrets

by Quentin Blount
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One star from Happy Days says that it was him — and not John Travolta — that was first offered the lead role in the 1978 film Grease.

Fans of classic television know Happy Days actor Henry Winkler by the name of Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli. Winkler rose to fame while playing the role of Fonzie on the show from 1974 until 1984. When it was all said and done, he even took home two Golden Globe Awards and three Emmy Award nominations while playing the part.

With all of his success on Happy Days, it’s almost hard to believe that Winkler could have, perhaps, became an even bigger star. In a 2017 interview with AARP The Magazine, Winkler admitted that he actually turned down the lead role in Grease because he didn’t want to be typecast.

“I turned down the lead role in Grease,” Winkler admitted in 2017. “Didn’t want to be typecast. But you’re typecast anyway.”

‘Happy Days’ Actor Henry Winkler Says ‘Listen to Your Gut’

Looking back, it sounds like Winkler regrets turning down the lead role on Grease — and rightfully so. John Travolta wound up getting the part of greaser Danny Zuko and the role propelled him to stardom. Winkler says he should have listened to his gut and encourages others to do the same.

“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,” Winkler explained in an interview with AARP. “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.”

We all have a couple of moments in life we wish we could have a re-do on. And the Happy Days star is no exception to that. Either way, it is still a breath of fresh air to hear a TV star open up and be vulnerable about having regrets. Although even without the lead role on Grease, Henry Winkler still made quite a name for himself.

Thanks to his time on the set of Happy Days, Winkler went on to become a breakout star. In fact, he made appearances in some other big-time shows and movies. Some of the popular shows we remember him in are Arrested Development, Children’s Hospital, and Parks and Recreation. Meanwhile, he also played memorable roles on the big screen in movies like Scream, The Waterboy, Holes, and Click.

Keep reading here on Outsider for all of the latest news on the cast of Happy Days.

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