|Artist||Gerald P. Sawyer|
|Dimensions||170 cm (65 in)|
The Bronze Fonz is a public artwork by American artist Gerald P. Sawyer located on the Milwaukee Riverwalk just south of Wells Street in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin U.S.A. The Bronze Fonz depicts Henry Winkler as the Happy Days TV show character Arthur Fonzarelli, also known as the Fonz. Fonzie stands in his typical costume, which consists of a leather jacket and jeans. He is giving a two-handed thumbs up.
The Bronze Fonz is made of bronze. The sculpture depicts Henry Winkler, the actor who played Fonz in the show Happy Days. Happy Days, which aired in the 1970s, was a sitcom about a family in 1950s/1960s Milwaukee. Arthur Fonzarelli (also known as "Fonzie" or "The Fonz"), wears a leather jacket and jeans. He is giving a two handed thumbs up, a gesture he often made in Happy Days. The inscription lists all of the donors that made the Bronze Fonz possible.
The artwork was created with the purpose of bringing tourism and new businesses to Milwaukee. Other places in the United States have erected statues portraying 1950s and 1960s television characters. Examples include: Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards from The Mary Tyler Moore Show in Minneapolis and Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden from The Honeymooners outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan. The tourism group Visit Milwaukee raised over US$85,000 to commission the Bronze Fonz. The popular sculpture was unveiled on August 18, 2008. Most of the Happy Days cast, including Henry Winkler (Fonzie) Marion Ross (Mrs. Cunningham), Tom Bosley (Mr. Cunningham), Erin Moran (Joanie), Don Most (Ralph Malph), and Anson Williams (Potsie), attended the dedication ceremony. Henry Winkler stated that the statue was "unbelievable".
Mike Brenner, then a local gallery owner and executive director of Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN), objected to the statue, which was originally planned to be located at the intersection of Wisconsin and Water Streets, a prominent downtown site. He threatened to close his gallery, Hotcakes, and resign as executive director of MARN if "that stupid Fonzie sculpture" was erected there. Brenner received death threats for voicing against the Bronze Fonz and posted several on his web site. After then CEO of the Milwaukee Art Museum, David Gordon, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Arts Critic, Mary-Louise Schumacher, and other Milwaukee arts dignitaries came out against the "Bronzie," it was erected on the east side of Milwaukee Riverwalk, behind a Chinese restaurant, just south of Wells Street. True to his word, Brenner closed Hotcakes Gallery in May 2008.
The piece was commissioned by Visit Milwaukee, a non-profit group that works toward making Milwaukee a place for tourism and interest. Visit Milwaukee raised $85,000 to commission the statue.
In popular culture
The statue is referenced in the lyrics of the 2014 song "Milwaukee" by The Both. The song, which recounted the local origin of the collaboration between the duo of Aimee Mann and Ted Leo, was the first single from their self-titled debut album.
- "The Fonz in bronze? Group hopes that's correctamundo, wants to put statue downtown". JSOnline. 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
- "Henry Winkler unveils bronze Fonz". BBC. 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
- "This guy will close his gallery, leave town if Fonz is bronzed". OnMilwaukee.com. 2007-11-27. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
- Brenner, Mike. "Bronze Fonzie Death Threats". hotcakesgallery.com. Retrieved 2014-11-13.
- Milwaukee Artist Resource Network. "Hotcakes Closes, Marn Loses Director, Only Bronze Fonz Remains". wisconsinvisualartists.com.
- Luerssen, John D. (January 24, 2014). "Aimee Mann and Ted Leo Join Forces as the Both". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2014-01-24.
- Hogan, Marc (January 24, 2014). "Aimee Mann and Ted Leo, as the Both, Bronze the Fonz on Punchy 'Milwaukee'". Spin. Archived from the original on 2014-02-03.