Arthur Fonzarelli, also known as Fonzie, or The Fonz, was the ultimate cool guy during the ’70s and early ’80s on the ABC sitcom “Happy Days.” However, Fonzie might not have maintained his cool-guy status if he didn’t have his motorcycle.
If you’re a big fan of classic TV shows and movies of the time, you probably recognized the motorcycle since it appeared on “Happy Days” as Fonzie’s trusty bike.
One of TV’s most recognized motorcycles also had a cameo in a Hollywood’s classic films, The Great Escape.
It gets even better: Hollywood legend Steve McQueen used the bike in The Great Escape. While it wasn’t the exact same bike, it was the same exact iconic model.
“One of my favorite facts about Fonzie is that the bike I finally wound up with, the Triumph — the Harley-Davidson was just too big for me — was the bike that Steve McQueen used to jump the fence in The Great Escape,” says “Fonzie” actor Henry Winkler, according to AmoMama.
McQueen’s character, PoW Virgil Hilts, jumps the bike over a barbed-wire fence at the German border during one unforgettable scene.
Eventually, the two icons would meet, but they never discussed the bike.
“I was walking down the street in Beverly Hills, and Steve McQueen was walking in the other direction. I did not have the wherewithal to stop him and say, ‘You are my action hero.’ All we did was nod. He nodded, I nodded and he kept walking.To this day it still bothers me that I didn’t shake his hand.”
‘The Great Escape’ & ‘Happy Days’ Iconic Bike Goes To Auction
One of the three motorcycles used by Winkler sold at auction in 2018 for $179,200.
Stuntman Bud Ekins provided the 1949 Triumph Trophy to the popular TV series. Ekins changed the handlebars, removed the fender, and painted the tank silver.
Before then, the bike failed to sell in an eBay auction at the asking price of $100,000.
It had previously been sold at a Bonhams auction in 2011 for $87,500.
However, before the Triumph, the early bikes from “Happy Days” were Harley Davidson bikes. Yet, Winkler found the Harleys too heavy to use and blamed his inability to ride them on his dyslexia.
“Happy Days” production switched to the much lighter Triumph to make it easier for Winkler.