Henry Winkler

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For other people named Henry Winkler, see Henry Winkler (disambiguation).
Henry Winkler
Henry winkler @ wizard world nyc experience 2013.jpg
Winkler at the 2013 Wizard World New York Experience in Manhattan.
Born Henry Franklin Winkler
(1945-10-30) October 30, 1945 (age 69)
Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
Alma mater Emerson College (BA, 1967)
Yale School of Drama (MFA, 1970)
Occupation Actor, director, comedian, producer, author
Years active 1972–present
Spouse(s) Stacey Furstman Weitzman (m. 1978)
Children Zoe Winkler
Max Winkler
Parent(s) Harry Irving Winkler
Ilse Anna Maria Hadra

Henry Franklin Winkler, OBE (born October 30, 1945) is an American actor, director, comedian, producer and author.

Winkler is best known for his role as Arthur Fonzarelli in the 1970s American sitcom Happy Days. "The Fonz," or "Fonzie," a leather-clad greaser and auto mechanic, started out as a minor character at the show's beginning, but had achieved top billing by the time the show ended. He currently stars as Sy Mittleman on Childrens Hospital.[1]

Early life[edit]

Winkler was born in the West Side of Manhattan, New York City, New York, the son of Ilse Anna Maria (née Hadra) and Harry Irving Winkler, a lumber company president.[2][3] Winkler's Jewish parents emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1939, "on the eve" of World War II; the family practiced Conservative Judaism.[4][5][6] Winkler has a sister.[7]

Winkler attended the McBurney School, received his bachelor's degree from Emerson College, where he was a member of the Alpha Pi Theta Fraternity, in 1967, as well as earning his MFA from the Yale School of Drama in 1970. In 1978, Emerson awarded Winkler an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Winkler has also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Austin College.


Richie takes a turn on Fonzie's motorcycle

Happy Days[edit]

Winkler started acting by appearing in a number of television commercials. He also appeared in episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show. In October 1973, he was cast for the role of Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli, nicknamed "The Fonz" or "Fonzie", in Happy Days, which first aired in January 1974.

For Happy Days, director/producer Garry Marshall originally had in mind a completely opposite physical presence. Marshall sought to cast a hunky, blonde, Italian model-type male in the role of Fonzie, intended as a stupid foil to the real star, Ron Howard. However, when Winkler, a Yale School of Drama graduate, interpreted the role in auditions, Marshall immediately snapped him up. According to Winkler, "The Fonz was everybody I wasn't. He was everybody I wanted to be."[8]

Winkler's character, though remaining very much a rough-hewn outsider, gradually became the focus of the show as time passed (in particular after the departure of Ron Howard). Initially, ABC executives did not want to see the Fonz wearing leather, thinking the character would appear to be a criminal. The first 13 episodes show Winkler wearing two different kinds of windbreaker jackets, one of which was green. As Winkler said in a TV Land interview, "It's hard to look cool in a green windbreaker". Marshall argued with the executives about the jacket. In the end, a compromise was made. Winkler could only wear the leather jacket in scenes with his motorcycle, and from that point on, the Fonz was never without his motorcycle until season 2.

Other activities during Happy Days[edit]

During his decade on Happy Days, Winkler also starred in a number of movies, including The Lords of Flatbush (1974), playing a troubled Vietnam veteran in Heroes (1977), The One and Only (1978), An American Christmas Carol (TV movie, 1979) and a morgue attendant in Night Shift (1982), which was directed by Happy Days co-star Ron Howard.

In 1977, Winkler appeared in a TV special, "Henry Winkler Meets William Shakespeare," part of the CBS Festival of Lively Arts for Young People instructional series for children. With the assistance of Tom Aldredge as Shakespeare, Winkler, as himself, introduced an audience of children to Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet and Henry IV and explained to them how Shakespeare's plays were produced at the Globe Theatre in London in the 17th century. He also played Romeo in the scene from Romeo and Juliet in which Romeo slays Tybalt in a sword duel.[9]

That year Winkler was also narrator and executive producer of Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids?, a documentary film about Dorothy and Bob DeBolt, an American couple who have adopted 14 children, some of whom are severely disabled war orphans (in addition to raising Dorothy's five biological children and Bob's biological daughter). The film won an Academy Award for Best Feature-length Documentary in 1978,[10] as well as the Directors Guild of America Award and the Humanitas Award for producer and director John Korty in 1979. A 50-minute version of the film shown on ABC in December, 1978, earned a 1979 Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement - Informational Program and an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Informational Program for Winkler, Korty, and producers Warren Lockhart and Dan McCann.

Winkler was also one of the hosts of the 1979 Music for UNICEF Concert.

After Happy Days[edit]

After Happy Days ended, Winkler concentrated on producing and directing. Within months of the program's cancellation, he and John Rich had collaborated to establish Winkler-Rich Productions; whenever Rich or Ann Daniels was uninvolved, his company was called Fair Dinkum Productions. He chose the name in a nod to Australia, where the term Fair Dinkum is a national slang. He produced several television shows including MacGyver, So Weird, and Mr. Sunshine, in all of which productions he was partnered with Rich; Sightings, in which Daniels was involved; the 1985 made-for-television film Scandal Sheet, for which he was executive producer; and the game shows Wintuition and Hollywood Squares (the latter from 2002–2004, occasionally serving as a sub-announcer). He also directed several movies including the Billy Crystal movie Memories of Me, (1988) and Cop and a Half (1993) with Burt Reynolds.[citation needed]

September 1990

Return to acting[edit]

As the 1990s began, Winkler returned to acting. In 1991 he starred in the controversial made-for-television film Absolute Strangers, as a husband forced to make a decision regarding his comatose wife and his unborn baby. In 1994, he returned to TV with the short-lived comedy series Monty on Fox. Also in 1994, he co-starred with Katharine Hepburn in the holiday TV movie One Christmas.[citation needed] He played an uncredited role as a high school principal in the 1996 movie Scream (1996). Adam Sandler asked Winkler to play a college football coach, a supporting role in The Waterboy (1998). He would later appear in three other Sandler films, Little Nicky (2000) where he plays himself and is covered in bees, Click (2006, as the main character's father), and You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008), again playing himself. He also played small roles in movies such as Down to You (2000), Holes (2003), and I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007).[citation needed]

Most recent television work[edit]

As of the middle of March 2014, Winkler had a recurring role on USA Network's Royal Pains, as Hank and Evan's ne'er-do-well father Eddy.

Winkler had a recurring role as incompetent lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn in the Fox Television comedy Arrested Development. In one episode, his character hopped over a confined shark lying on a pier, a reference to his role in the origin of the phrase, from a two-part episode of Happy Days, "jumping the shark." After that episode, Winkler, in interviews, stated that he was the only person to have "jumped the shark" twice.[citation needed]

When Winkler moved to CBS for one season to star in 2005–06's Out of Practice, his role as the Bluth family lawyer on Arrested Development was taken over by Happy Days co-star Scott Baio in the fall of 2005, shortly before the acclaimed but Nielsen-challenged show ceased production.[citation needed]

Winkler has guest-starred on television series such as Numb3rs, The Bob Newhart Show (as Miles Lascoe, a parolee just out of jail—he was in jail for armed robbery, twice), South Park, The Practice, The Simpsons (playing a member of a biker gang—in one scene, he calls Marge "Mrs. S", a reference to Fonzie calling Happy Days matriarch Marion Cunningham "Mrs. C"), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Third Watch, Arrested Development, Crossing Jordan, Family Guy, King of the Hill and Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil.[citation needed]

The Weezer video for 1994's "Buddy Holly" edited period footage of Henry Winkler as the Fonz, as well as a double shot from behind to create the illusion that Fonzie and other characters were watching Weezer as they performed in Arnold's restaurant. His most recent appearances were on KTTV's Good Day L.A.. Once, while substituting for Steve Edwards, Winkler reunited with fellow Happy Days cast member Marion Ross. Winkler made a cameo appearance in the band Say Anything's video for "Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too".[11][12]

A close friend of actor John Ritter, the two led a Broadway ensemble cast in Neil Simon's The Dinner Party in 2000. Winkler was reunited as a guest star on Ritter's sitcom 8 Simple Rules (for Dating my Teenage Daughter) in 2003 by Ritter's request. On September 11, Ritter became ill during filming, and unexpectedly died. A stunned, grief-stricken Winkler was interviewed by Mary Hart of Entertainment Tonight and various other entertainment news sources.

at the 2008 Fan Expo Canada

In 2008, he appeared in two Christmas movies, in the Hallmark Channel movie The Most Wonderful Time of the Year as a retired cop who plays matchmaker between his niece and a drifter he befriends, and in Merry Christmas, Drake & Josh as the judge who orders Drake and Josh to give a young girl "the best Christmas ever" or be sent to jail. In 2009, Winkler provided the voice of Willard Deutschebog, a suicidal German teacher, in the Fox comedy series, Sit Down, Shut Up.[13]

The Hank Zipzer books[edit]

Since 2003, Winkler has collaborated with Lin Oliver on a series of children's books about a 4th grade boy, Hank Zipzer, who is dyslexic. Winkler also has the learning disability, which was not diagnosed until he was 31 and his stepson Jed was tested;[14] the dyslexia was an unhappy[15] part of his childhood. Winkler has published 17 books about his hero Zipzer, the "world's greatest underachiever."[16]

In July 2008, Winkler joined First News on their annual Reading Tour of schools where he read excerpts from his Hank Zipzer books. This has since become an annual tour.[17] In 2011 he donated books to Holy Rosary School, PA. The school was flooded out by Tropical Storm Lee.


Winkler appeared in his first pantomime at the New Wimbledon Theatre, London in 2006, playing Captain Hook in Peter Pan, replacing David Hasselhoff who pulled out when he was offered a TV role by Simon Cowell. He reprised the role in Woking for Christmas 2007. For the 2008/2009 season he played Captain Hook at the Milton Keynes Theatre and donned the hook once again for the 2009/2010 panto season at the Liverpool Empire.

On June 2, 2010, it was announced that Winkler would become the television spokesman for One Reverse Mortgage, a reverse mortgage lender.[18]

In December 2013, Winkler reprised his role of Captain Hook in Peter Pan at the Richmond Theatre in South West London.

Obama election[edit]

In October 2008, Winkler appeared in a video on funnyordie.com with Ron Howard, reprising their roles as Fonzie and Richie Cunningham, encouraging people to vote for Barack Obama. The video titled "Ron Howard’s Call to Action"[19] also featured Andy Griffith.


As of June 2010, Winkler was appearing on the American show Royal Pains as the father of the two main characters.

On June 19, 2010, Winkler appeared on James Corden's ITV World Cup Live show. He represented the USA in the World Cup Wall Chart.

In the summer/fall 2010 season, Winkler joined the cast of Adult Swim's television adaptation of Rob Corddry's web series Childrens Hospital, playing a stereotypically feckless hospital administrator.

In late September 2010, Winkler provided the voice of Professor Nathaniel Zib in the Lego Hero Factory mini-series, Rise of the Rookies.

On May 31, 2011, Winkler's book, I've Never Met an Idiot on the River, was published. It is a collection of his photographs and reflections drawn from his love of fly fishing and life with his family.

In 2011, Winkler guest starred as Ambush Bug in the series finale of Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

In August 2012, Winkler announced on Twitter that he would be returning to the fourth season of Arrested Development.[20]

In the 2013 Broadway season, Winkler, Cheyenne Jackson, Alicia Silverstone, and Ari Graynor were announced to star in the David West Read play The Performers opening Nov 14, 2012 at The Longacre Theatre.[21]

Winkler appeared in the film Here Comes the Boom, released October 12, 2012, as the music teacher at Wilkinson High School.

He also appeared in MGMT's music video for "Your Life is a Lie," and made a special appearance with the band at FYF Fest 2013 where he played an over-sized cowbell.

He stars in the TV adaption of his book series Hank Zipzer as the teacher 'Mr Rock'.

Personal life[edit]

Winkler has been married to Stacey Furstman Weitzman[22] since May 5, 1978; with her, he has two children, Zoe Emily (b. 1980) and Max Daniel (b. August 18, 1983), and a stepson, Jed, from Stacey's previous marriage with Howard Weitzman.

Winkler is a cousin of actor Richard Belzer.[23] Winkler is the godfather of Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of Happy Days co-star Ron Howard. Henry was the 9th King of the Bacchus, Mardi Gras, Parade in New Orleans in 1977; the theme was "Happily Ever After".

Winkler's relationship with his parents (now deceased) was strained, due at least partially to their attitude towards his dyslexia.[24] He stated his father referred to him as "dumb dog" and often punished him for his difficulties in school.[25]

Honors and awards[edit]

  • In 1996, Winkler was selected to be the Class Day speaker at Yale University, an honor accorded to distinguished Yale alumni.
  • On August 3, 2008, Winkler was chosen to be the guest conductor at the Boston Pops by the Sea Concert in Hyannis, Massachusetts.
  • On August 19, 2008, Milwaukeeans paid homage to their hometown hero and unveiled a life-sized, bronze statue of Fonzie along the Milwaukee Riverwalk.[26]
  • On March 29, 2010, Winkler was presented the key to the City of Winnipeg for his contributions to education and literacy.[27]
Golden Globe Awards
Daytime Emmy Award
Primetime Emmy Awards
Order of the British Empire

In September 2011, Winkler was appointed an Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to children with special educational needs and dyslexia in the UK.[29][30]

National Literacy Trust

Winkler was named by the National Literacy Trust as one of the United Kingdom’s top 10 Literacy Heroes on December 3, 2013.[31]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ "Happy Days  — The Third Season". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  2. ^ "Henry Winkler profile at". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  3. ^ http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=QONBAAAAIBAJ&sjid=MKoMAAAAIBAJ&pg=4893,1679818&dq=henry-winkler+president+lumber&hl=en
  4. ^ "Henry Winkler Biography – Yahoo! Movies". Movies.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2012-12-15. 
  5. ^ "Welcome to my world: Henry Winkler". The Scotsman. 2009-05-15. Retrieved 2014-12-09. 
  6. ^ "Happy days after hard knocks | The Jewish Chronicle". Thejc.com. 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2014-12-09. 
  7. ^ Maron, Marc (13 April 2015). "Episode 593 - Henry Winkler". WTF with Marc Maron. Audio podcast interview. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  8. ^ Remarks to Oprah Winfrey on The Oprah Winfrey Show, original airdate February 26, 2008
  9. ^ "British Universities Film & Video Council: "Henry Winkler Meets William Shakespeare"". Bufvc.ac.uk. 1977-03-20. Retrieved 2014-12-09. 
  10. ^ "NY Times: Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids?". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-11-15. 
  11. ^ "Say Anything Gets Sexy With Fonzie, Begins New CD". Billboard. 2007-03-09. Retrieved 2014-12-09. 
  12. ^ Video on YouTube
  13. ^ "Sit Down, Shut Up". Fox. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  14. ^ "Henry Winkler". Shatner's Raw Nerve, 13 December 2009.
  15. ^ "Henry Winkler's Dyslexic Hero Gives Kids With Learning Difficulties the Last Laugh – Talking about LDs". GreatSchools. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  16. ^ "Grand Rapids Press". Mlive.com. 2011-11-01. Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  17. ^ "First News Children's Newspaper". Firstnews.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  18. ^ "One Reverse Mortgage Introduces Award-winning Actor and Author Henry Winkler as Company Spokesperson". News.Gnom.Es. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  19. ^ "Ron Howard's Call to Action"[dead link] "Same video on liveleak"
  20. ^ "Twitter / hwinkler4real: I AM SUPPOSED TO BE MEMORIZING". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2012-12-15. 
  21. ^ "Cheyenne Jackson and Henry Winkler Confirmed to Star in Broadway Porn Play The Performers". Broadway.com. 2012-07-26. Retrieved 2012-08-12. 
  22. ^ Boughton, Victoria (2001-05-07). "Happy Daze - Personal Success, Where Are They Now?, Henry Winkler". People.com. Retrieved 2014-12-09. 
  23. ^ "Henry Winkler Pictures, Richard Belzer Photos - Photo Gallery: Surprising Celebrity Family Ties". TV Guide. Retrieved October 31, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Henry Winkler bio at the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity". Dyslexia.yale.edu. Retrieved 2012-12-15. 
  25. ^ 'I was called Dumb Dog': Henry Winkler's happy days as The Fonz were blighted by condition undiagnosed for 35 years by Nikki Murfitt, Mail Online, December 8th 2008. Retrieved October 14th, 2012
  26. ^ Artist ready for unveiling of 'Bronze Fonz'. Watertown Daily Times. August 16, 2008. About the statue and artist Gerald Sawyer, of Milford, Wisconsin.
  27. ^ "The Fonz gets key to Winnipeg"[dead link]
  28. ^ TV Guide August 12–18, 2000. pg. 12. 
  29. ^ "Henry Winkler receives honorary OBE for services to children with special educational needs and dyslexia". UK Department of Education. February 11, 2011. Retrieved September 11, 2011. 
  30. ^ "Henry Winkler, the Fonz in Happy Days, appointed OBE". BBC News. September 15, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-15. 
  31. ^ "HRH The Duchess of Cornwall hosts reception to celebrate the UK’s top 10 Literacy Heroes". National Literacy Trust. 3 December 2013. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 

External links[edit]