In “Happy Days,” Henry Winkler played Arthur Fonzarelli, or The Fonz, a likable but womanizing greaser who occasionally upstaged Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard).
In real life, Henry Winkler is worth $40 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. After “Happy Days,” he forged a successful career as a director and producer. He also went on to write children’s books. And not just a few, but 29 children’s books. They draw on Winkler’s own early experiences with failure in school and undiagnosed dyslexia.
“It’s easy for me, at 73 years old, to channel the 10-year-old who was failing,” Winkler said in 2019, according to the New York Post. “I tell every child I meet, how you learn has nothing to do with how great you are.”
Despite Early Difficulties, Winkler Found Success With ‘Happy Days’
Winkler realized he had dyslexia when he was 31. It was just as his 7-year-old stepson was being diagnosed with the learning disability. It explained so much about his early life, during which time Winkler told The Guardian, “I was completely befuddled by school.”
Winkler wrote the books with a partner, Lin Oliver, who writes while he talks. They then collaborate on the results.
“When I’m writing all the emotions of Hank come through me,” Winkler explained to The Guardian. “I remember in so much detail what it’s like to be a kid.”
In fact, Winkler didn’t read a book until he was 31 years old. He says that, now that he knows what it’s like to finish a book, “I’m so, so sorry I couldn’t read when I was younger.” As an adult, he reads thrillers. And he lines up the finished novels on his shelf like trophies. He still reads very slowly, however.
Winkler had been told he was stupid so many times he came to believe it, he said. And he was just about ready to give up on Hollywood when he landed the role of The Fonz in 1973. The show lasted until 1984. By the time it ended, Winkler was famous for the role and “Happy Days” was one of the most popular shows on television.
Winkler Worked as Producer and Director Before Returning to Acting
Winkler took a break from acting after “Happy Days” wound down and branched out into directing and producing instead. With John Rich, he founded Winkler-Rich Productions.
As a producer, Winkler worked on shows like “MacGyver,” Mr. Sunshine,” “So Weird” and “Hollywood Squares.” As a director, Winkler helmed movies like “Memories of Me” and “Cop and a Half.”
Winkler returned to acting in the 1990s, appearing in such films as “The Waterboy” and “Little Nicky.” More recently, he also appeared in the TV series “Barry,” for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, per IMDb.