Henry Winkler

For other people named Henry Winkler, see Henry Winkler (disambiguation).
Henry Winkler

Winkler speaking at the Foreign Office in London, 5 March 2013

Winkler speaking at the Foreign Office in London, 5 March 2013
Born Henry Franklin Winkler
(1945-10-30) October 30, 1945
Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States
Education McBurney School
Alma mater
Occupation Actor, director, comedian, producer, author
Years active 1967–1969, 1972–present
Spouse(s) Stacey Winkler (m. 1978)
Children 2
  • Harry Winkler
  • Ilse Winkler

Henry Franklin Winkler (born October 30, 1945)[1][2] is an American actor, director, comedian, producer and author.[3]

Winkler is best known for his role as Arthur Fonzarelli in the 1970s American sitcom Happy Days.[4] "The Fonz", or "Fonzie", a leather-clad greaser, hot rodder 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 also starred as Sy Mittleman on Adult Swim's Childrens Hospital[5] and starred as Eddie R. Lawson on USA Networks's Royal Pains.[6]

Early life

Winkler was born in the West Side of Manhattan, New York City, New York, the son of Ilse Anna Marie Winkler (née Hadra) and Harry Irving Winkler, a lumber company president. Winkler's Jewish parents emigrated from Berlin, Germany, to the United States in 1939, "on the eve" of World War II. Winkler said that his parents came to the United States for a six-month business trip but that they knew they were never going back.[1] His father smuggled the only assets the family had left, family jewels, in a box of chocolate that he carried under his arm.[7]

Although they did not keep kosher, Winkler was raised in the traditions of Conservative Judaism,[8][9] but said that he was not religious as an adult. The family attended Congregation Habonim, where his mother, a homemaker, ran the Judaica shop. His parents were founding members of the temple.[1] Winkler has a sister, Beatrice.[7]

Winkler said he was very anxious as a child because of his undiagnosed dyslexia. He said he was considered to be "slow, stupid, not living up to my potential." He said his father spoke 11 languages and could do math in his head and did not understand Winkler's problems at school, where Winkler would celebrate a C. Winkler has said that his relationship with his parents (now deceased) was strained, due at least partially to their attitude towards his undiagnosed dyslexia.[10] He stated his father referred to him as "dumb dog" and often punished him for his difficulties in school.[1]

Winkler attended P.S. 87 on W. 78th Street and then graduated from McBurney School in 1963, both of which were located in Manhattan's Upper West Side neighborhood.[11] Winkler said he did not graduate with his class because of his learning disability and problems with a geometry class, which he finally passed after attending summer school.[3]

In 1967, Winkler received his B.A. degree from Emerson College. At Emerson, he was a member of the Alpha Pi Theta Fraternity. In 1970, Winkler earned an M.F.A. degree from the Yale School of Drama. In 1978, Emerson awarded Winkler an honorary D.H.L. degree. Winkler has also received an honorary D.H.L. degree from Austin College.



Winkler said he had wanted to be an actor from the time he was a young child.[1]

Winkler's first job on television was as an extra on a game show in New York. He received $10 for the role.[1]

After working in theater and getting fired from a play in Washington, Winkler moved to New York City and supported himself by appearing in television commercials, one year doing over 30. He was able to support himself with the commercial work so he could do theater for free at Manhattan Theater Club.[1]

He also appeared in episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show.

Happy Days

Richie (Ron Howard) takes a turn on Fonzie's motorcycle

Although Winkler had already shot the film, The Lords of Flatbush, he was relatively unknown. In 1973, a year before that film was released, producer Tom Miller was instrumental in Winkler getting cast for the role of Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli, nicknamed "The Fonz" or "Fonzie", in Happy Days, which first aired in January 1974.[12]

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 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."[13]

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).[14] 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. Happy Days ended its run in 1984.


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.

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,[15] 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 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.

September 1990


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 and co-starred with Katharine Hepburn in the holiday TV movie One Christmas.[16]

In 1996, his scene-stealing, uncredited role in Scream (as foul-mouthed high school principal Arthur Himbry) thrust his onscreen career back into the mainstream. Shortly afterwards, Adam Sandler asked Winkler to appear in The Waterboy (1998).

In 1999 he became an executive producer for the Disney Channel original series, So Weird. He would later make a special guest appearance in the second season's Halloween episode titled "Boo".


The Waterboy sparked a fast friendship, and ongoing professional relationship, between Sandler and Winkler. He would go on to appear in three other Sandler films: Little Nicky (2000, where he plays himself, covered in bees), Click (2006, as the protagonist's father), and You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008, again playing himself). He also had small roles in movies such as Down to You (2000), Holes (2003), and I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007).

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 dead shark lying on a pier,[17] 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.

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.

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 Drew Carey Show, 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.

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. He appeared on KTTV's Good Day L.A. and in one appearance, 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".[18][19]

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.[20]


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.

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.[21]

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

Between 2013 and 2015, Winkler appeared in 9 episodes of Parks and Recreation as Dr. Saperstein, father of Jean-Ralphio and Mona-Lisa.

He stars in the TV adaption of his Hank Zipzer book series as the teacher, Mr. Rock. Mr. Rock was based on a music teacher Winkler had in high school at McBurney. Winkler said that the real Mr. Rock believed in him, was the only teacher there who he felt did.[22]

In March 2010, Winkler was cast in a recurring role on USA Network's Royal Pains, as Hank and Evan's ne'er-do-well father Eddy.

Winkler is a spokesman for reverse mortgages through Quicken Loans.


Winkler's audition for the Yale School of Drama was a Shakespeare monologue, which he promptly forgot, so he made up his own Shakespeare monologue. Out of a class of 25 actors, 11 finished. During summers, he and his classmates opened a summer stock theater called New Haven Free Theater, putting on various plays including Woyzeck, and an improv night. The company put on a production of The American Pig at the Joseph Papp Public Theater for the New York Shakespeare Festival in New York City. In June 1970, after graduating from Yale, Winkler was asked to be part of the Yale Repertory Theatre company, which included James Naughton and Jill Eikenberry.[1]

During his time there, Cliff Robertson, who had seen him perform in East Hampton, offered him a part in his film The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid. Winkler had to decline because he had no understudy for his current role, and thus was unable to leave. He stayed with the Yale Repertory Theatre for a year and a half.[1]

In 1971, Winkler got a job at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. to work on the play, Moonchildren, but was fired by director, Alan Schneider.[1]

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.[23][24]


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.[25]

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

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.[26]


In 1998, Winkler's agent at CAA, Alan Berger, suggested Winkler write a children's book about dyslexia, but Winkler didn't think that he would be able to write because of his struggles with the learning disability. Berger was persistent, and a few years later, in 2003, he again suggested Winkler write. Winkler said yes. Berger suggested he co-write with author Lin Oliver.[7] Winkler has since written 19 books.[6]

Hank Zipzer books

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, who was in the third grade, was tested;[27] the dyslexia was an unhappy[28] part of his childhood. Winkler has published 17 books about his hero Zipzer, the "world's greatest underachiever."[29]

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.[30]

In 2011 he donated books to Holy Rosary School, PA. The school was flooded out by Tropical Storm Lee.

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.

Other activities

Honors and awards

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 (OBE) for services to children with special educational needs and dyslexia in the UK.[35][36]

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.[37]

Film and television appearances



Voice actor


Other work



Personal life

Winkler has been married to Stacey Winkler (née Furstman)[39] since May 5, 1978; with her, he has two children, Zoe Emily (b. 1980), a pre-school teacher,[40][41] and Max Daniel (b. August 18, 1983), a director. Winkler also has a stepson, Jed Weitzman, from Stacey's previous marriage with Howard Weitzman.

Winkler is a cousin of actor Richard Belzer.[42] 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 said he was named after his Uncle Helmut, who did not make it out of Germany during World War II.[1] His middle name, Franklin, was in honor of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.[1]

He is an avid fly fisherman, which he often does in Montana. On the rewards of this hobby, Winkler said: " The repetition of it, the sound of the water, I find it to be totally draining. Anything that bothers you is completely washed from your body. I see fly-fishing as a washing machine for your brain. My technique is still ugly as sin. But somehow I get the fish."[6]

Works and publications

In addition to the Hank Zipzer series, which has 14 books, Winkler has written another series with Lin Oliver called Here's Hank, a prequel to the Zipzer stories.[11]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Herman, Karen (10 November 2006). "Emmy TV Legends: Henry Winkler". Archive of American Television. Emmys. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  2. "Henry Franklin Winkler - United States Public Records". FamilySearch. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  3. 1 2 Drabble, Emily (26 May 2014). "Henry Winkler: I didn't read a book myself until I was 31 years old". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  4. Wilson, John M. (23 May 1976). "Can Henry Winkler Outgrow 'The Fonz'?". The New York Times. p. 372. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  5. 1 2 Spiegel, Danny (20 August 2010). "Henry Winkler Checks in to Adult Swim's Childrens Hospital". TV Guide. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 Lewis, Andy (3 July 2011). "Henry Winkler Spills 'Royal Pains' Secrets, Reveals the Only Way He'd Do 'Dancing With the Stars' (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  7. 1 2 3 Maron, Marc (13 April 2015). "Episode 593 - Henry Winkler". WTF with Marc Maron. Audio podcast interview. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  8. "Welcome to my world: Henry Winkler". The Scotsman. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  9. Nathan, John (9 January 2014). "Happy days after hard knocks". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  10. "Henry Winkler, Actor, Producer, Author". The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  11. 1 2 Stebner, Beth (23 February 2014). "How dyslexia made 'Happy Days' star Henry Winkler an author". Daily News. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  12. Armstrong, Lois (24 May 1976). "It's The Fonz! Ayyyy—the Fonz Is a Smash, but Henry Winkler Finds Some Nightmares in His Happy Daze". People. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  13. Remarks to Oprah Winfrey on The Oprah Winfrey Show, original airdate February 26, 2008
  14. "Happy Days - The Third Season". DVD Talk. 27 November 2007. Retrieved 16 August 2010.
  15. "NY Times: Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids?". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-11-15.
  16. Lenox, Mariana. "One Christmas". Reel and Unscripted. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  17. "Motherboy XXX". Arrested Development. Season 2. Episode 13. 2005-03-15. Event occurs at 11:30. Fox.
  18. "Say Anything Gets Sexy With Fonzie, Begins New CD". Billboard. 2007-03-09. Retrieved 2014-12-09.
  19. Video on YouTube
  20. "Sit Down, Shut Up". Fox. Retrieved 2009-04-14.
  21. "Twitter / hwinkler4real: I AM SUPPOSED TO BE MEMORIZING". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2012-12-15.
  22. Blevis, Mark (21 January 2008). "Interview with Henry Winkler". Just One More Book!!. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  23. "British Universities Film & Video Council: "Henry Winkler Meets William Shakespeare"". Bufvc.ac.uk. 1977-03-20. Retrieved 2014-12-09.
  24. Klemesrud, Judy (8 February 1977). "From Leather Jacket to Tights: The Fonz Makes It in Stratford". The New York Times. p. 26. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  25. Lyall, Sarah (21 December 2009). "Topsy-Turvy Christmas Foolery". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  26. "Cheyenne Jackson and Henry Winkler Confirmed to Star in Broadway Porn Play The Performers". Broadway.com. 2012-07-26. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
  27. "Henry Winkler". Shatner's Raw Nerve, 13 December 2009.
  28. "Henry Winkler's Dyslexic Hero Gives Kids With Learning Difficulties the Last Laugh – Talking about LDs". GreatSchools. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
  29. "Grand Rapids Press". Mlive.com. 2011-11-01. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  30. "First News Children's Newspaper". Firstnews.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
  31. "Ron Howard's Call For Obama With Andy Griffith And Henry Winkler". Huffington Post. 23 October 2008. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  32. Artist ready for unveiling of 'Bronze Fonz'. Watertown Daily Times. August 16, 2008. About the statue and artist Gerald Sawyer, of Milford, Wisconsin.
  33. "The Fonz gets key to Winnipeg" Archived July 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  34. TV Guide August 12–18, 2000. pg. 12.
  35. "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.
  36. "Henry Winkler, the Fonz in Happy Days, appointed OBE". BBC News. September 15, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  37. "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.
  38. http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2016/filming-starts-hank-zipzer-henry-winkler
  39. Boughton, Victoria (2001-05-07). "Happy Daze - Personal Success, Where Are They Now?, Henry Winkler". People.com. Retrieved 2014-12-09.
  40. Preskill, Adam (October 2009). "The Fonz's Daughter Chooses Her Own Path". Los Angeles Confidential. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  41. Segre, Francesca (18 July 2009). "Vows: Zoe Winkler and Robert Reinis". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  42. "Henry Winkler Pictures, Richard Belzer Photos - Photo Gallery: Surprising Celebrity Family Ties". TV Guide. Retrieved October 31, 2014.

Further reading


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