In the ’70s he was one of the most beloved actors on TV, touching the hearts of millions in his role as “Fonzie”.
Today, the now 72-year-old actor enjoys a more quiet life, and in a recent interview he shares the story of his career – and why he suddenly stopped acting for 14 years after the success of “Happy Days”.
Long before ever making it on film and TV, Henry Winkler grew up with German parents, who had immigrated from Nazi German. His parents were tough on him and used to call him names that translate to “dumb dog”. He was also struggling with dyslexia.
To say that Henry Winkler was served his succeess on a silver platter would be a great overstatement.
Once he’d struggled his way through high school, he applied to 28 colleges and ended up only getting accepted into two. He eventually worked his way into Yale by improvising a Shakespeare monologue.
When Henry was 27, “Happy Days” aired for the very first time. His character Fonzie was originally meant to just be a minor part – but the potential of the character would soon be obvious to everyone.
The show eventually ended, and then came the backlash. Henry had a hard time figuring out what to do with himself – and an even harder time finding work since everone would only recognize him from his signature part.
When he finally managed to fill the void – it was in the role of producer and director rather than as an actor. Not until 1998 would he return to the big screen as an actor.
Two factors have played a huge part in Henry’s struggle to overcome dyslexia: His wife Stacey Weitzman – and fishing, which he tells CBS about in the interview:
“The place of it, the sound of it, the green of it, and what happens when you’re fishing you cannot concentrate on anything else. Not a problem in the world bothers you at this moment.”
Let’s celebrate this fantastic performer and his life’s work. You will always have a place in our hearts, Fonzie!