‘Happy Days’: Tom Hanks Made a Special Appearance as a Black Belt Karate Expert

by Keeli Parkey

Tom Hanks has appeared in some of the most beloved movies of all time. Who can forget “Forrest Gump,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Apollo 13,” or “Philadelphia”? However, before he was a major movie star and Academy Award winner, Hanks was just another actor trying to make it in Hollywood.

In 1982, Hanks appeared on one of the most popular television shows of all time. That year, according to an article on MeTV.com, Hanks was cast as in guest role on “Happy Days.”

That role called for Hanks to play a karate instructor who had a history with Fonzie. The episode was called “A Little Case of Revenge.” According to IMDb.com, the character Hanks played was named Dr. Dwayne Twitchell.

The character Hanks played knew The Fonz, played by Henry Winkler, during the third grade. He was still mad at Fonzie for something that happened. Hanks’ character was a black belt in karate and he even hit Fonzie. According to the article, the hit was the first one Fonzie ever took on “Happy Days.”

Hanks, Winkler Had Feud on Movie Set

According to Ron Howard, Tom Hanks and Henry Winkler did not get along while shooting the movie “Turner & Hooch.” Howard was a friend to both actors. He worked with Winkler on “Happy Days” and directed “Hanks” in movies.

Hanks was the star of “Turner & Hooch” in 1989 and Winkler was the film’s director. According to reports, the actor and director were not getting along on set. Eventually, Winkler was replaced as the movie’s director. Both Hanks and Winkler reportedly confided in Howard about their work on the film.

“It was disappointing,” Howard said in an interview with The Guardian. “I’m friends with them both and both men felt compelled to come to talk to me about it. I know it was painful for both of them and I was able to lend an ear, if not offer any solutions.”

Role on ‘Happy Days’ Led to Opportunities for Tom Hanks

According to MeTV.com, Tom Hanks’ appearance on “Happy Days” also gave him a chance to play on the television show’s softball team.

In addition to Hanks, the teams also included such big names as Robin Williams, Rob Reiner, Penny Marshall, and Tony Danza. They played some of their games at Major League Baseball stadiums including Shea, Candlestick Park, and Wrigley Field. They also went overseas to play in Germany and Japan, according to the article.

Ron Howard, who starred on “Happy Days” during its successful television run, became aware of Tom Hanks thanks to that 1982 episode of the show, as well as his the actor’s on the sitcom “Bosom Buddies.”

According to Wikipedia, this led Howard to reach out to Hanks about a role in Howard’s new movie “Splash.” Howard originally wanted Tom Hanks to play the brother of the main character. However, John Candy was cast in this role.

Fortunately for Hanks, he was cast as the movie’s lead. “Splash” began a bit hit and the actor’s career started to gain momentum. His role in “Bachelor Party” in 1984 just added to his success. And, as we all know, the rest is history.