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Henry Winkler Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (30) | Personal Quotes (16) | Salary (1)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 30 October 1945New York City, New York, USA
Birth NameHenry Franklin Winkler
Height 5' 6" (1.68 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Henry Franklin Winkler was born on October 30, 1945, in Manhattan, New York. His parents, Harry Irving and Ilse Anna Maria Winkler, were Jewish immigrants who avoided the German Holocaust, moving to the US in 1939. His dad was the president of an international lumber company while his mother worked alongside his father.

Henry grew up with "a high level of low self-esteem." Throughout elementary school and high school, he struggled with academics. This was due to what he would later identify as dyslexia. His parents expected him to eventually work with them at the lumber company. However, Henry had other plans as he saw roles on stage as the key to his happiness. His acting debut came in the eighth grade when he played the role of Billy Budd in the school play of the same name.

Following his graduation from McBurney High School, he was able to incorporate his learning disability and succeed in higher education. He received a Bachelor's degree from Emerson College in 1967 and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Yale School of Drama in 1970. He later received an honorary PhD in Hebrew Literature in 1978 from Emerson College.

Following college, his top priority was to become an actor. However, if this was unsuccessful, he wanted to become a child psychologist because of his deep interest in working with children. Like many other actors, he began his career by appearing in 30 commercials. His first major film role was in The Lord's of Flatbush (1974) in which he played a member of a Brooklyn gang.

After that, he was cast on a new ABC series which was set in the 1950s called Happy Days (1974). He was given the role of high school dropout and greaser Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli. The character was seldom seen during the first few episodes as ABC initially feared he would be perceived as a hoodlum. However, the character became extremely popular with viewers, and the show's producers decided to give Fonzie a more prominent role in the series.

Following this, the show's ratings began to soar, and Fonzie became a 1970s icon and the epitome of cool. His motorcycle, leather jacket, thumbs-up gesture, and uttering of the phrase "Aayyyy!" became television trademarks. The character became so popular that ABC considered renaming the series "Fonzie's Happy Days" but eventually decided against it.

Unlike many other stars of the 1970s who rose to fame in a short period of time and developed "big heads," Henry managed to stay well grounded and avoided falling into this trap. He was said to be more polite and agreeable, even after his popularity soared. He remained on the series until its cancellation in 1984.

In the mid-1980s, with his Happy Days (1974) now behind him, Henry decided to change his focus toward producing and directing. He produced and directed several television shows and movies, most notably MacGyver (1985) and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (1996). In the mid-1990s and early 2000s, he was able to re-establish himself with a younger generation of moviegoers and TV viewers, appearing in the popular films, Scream (1996) and The Waterboy (1998) and on shows such as The Practice (1997) and Arrested Development (2003).

In addition to his movie and film credits, Henry is a well accomplished author. Between 2003 and 2007, he co-authored 12 children's novels with Lin Oliver. The series is called "Hank Zipzer, the World's Greatest Underachiever." The books are based on his early struggles with dyslexia, and they sold more than 2-million books in that time. Off-screen, Henry has been married since 1978 to Stacey Winkler (nee Weitzman) with whom he has three children. Together, they are actively involved with various children's charities. In 1990, they co-founded the Children's Action Network (CAN), which provides free immunization to over 200,000 children. He is also involved with the Annual Cerebral Palsy Telethon, the Epilepsy Foundation of America, the annual Toys for Tots campaign, the National Committee for Arts for the Handicapped, and the Special Olympics.

In September 2003, he suffered a personal setback when his fellow actor and friend of nearly 25 years, John Ritter, unexpectedly passed away. Henry was on the set of 8 Simple Rules (2002) that day for a guest appearance and was one of the last people to talk to Ritter.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: SteveG (Edited by Henry Winkler)

Spouse (1)

Stacey Winkler (5 May 1978 - present) (2 children)

Trivia (30)

Graduate of Emerson College.
Grew up in New York City and upstate in family's country home on Lake Mahopac, NY.
Children: Stepson, Jed Weitzman (father is Howard Weitzman); Daughter, Zoe Emily Winkler (b. 1980); Son, Max Winkler (b. 1983).
His parents left Nazi Germany in 1939, during the period of Jewish persecutions but before the Holocaust.
While making a documentary about dyslexia, Winkler himself found, at age 31, that he is dyslexic.
Cousin of Richard Belzer.
Was rehearsing lines with John Ritter before John collapsed and died.
Is the godfather of Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of his former Happy Days (1974) co-star Ron Howard.
He studied drama at Emerson College in Boston and earned a master's degree at the Yale School of Drama.
The motorcycle he rode on Happy Days (1974) was the same motorcycle Steve McQueen rode in the famous motorcycle scene at the end of The Great Escape (1963).
Was originally asked to play Danny in Grease (1978) but didn't accept for fear of being typecast after his famous role of Fonzie.
In the fall of 2005, appeared in the season premieres of three different series: Crossing Jordan (2001), Arrested Development (2003), and Out of Practice (2005).
His last episode on Arrested Development (2003) aired the same day as his first episode on Out of Practice (2005), September 19, 2005.
Good friend of Jill Eikenberry, whom he met when both were students at the Yale School of Drama.
In 2000, he received an Emmy nomination for a guest appearance on the TV series Battery Park (2000). However, when the TV Academy discovered that his episode (which was originally scheduled to air in April, but was later burned off in June after the series had already been canceled) had aired outside the nominations period, his nomination was revoked and William H. Macy was instead nominated for his work on Sports Night (1998). The award eventually went to Bruce Willis.
Member of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Actors Branch) [2007-].
Best remembered by the public for his starring role as "Fonzie" on Happy Days (1974).
Father-in-law of Rob Reinis.
Father-in-law of actor, Rob Reinis and father of Zoe Winkler (born in 1981). She is a preschool teacher in Santa Monica, California.
As a guest on The New Paul O'Grady Show (2004) (Nov. 18, 2009), Winkler confessed that he could not ride a motorcycle. Despite his image as an inveterate biker on the hit sitcom Happy Days (1974), Winkler never actually rode the bike on the series. During his one and only attempt at mastering the machine, Winkler took a tumble and stayed away from motorcycles after that nasty experience.
Is a consummate and respected amateur photographer who brings his camera to every shoot, be it as an actor or director.
Received an Order of the British Empire award (OBE) from Queen Elizabeth II (April, 2011) in recognition of his work with British children with learning challenges, via his My Way! Campaign.
Is an avid, long-term fly-fishing enthusiast, along with his wife and their children.
His first ride on the "Happy Days" motorcycle resulted in him crashing into the sound-van and then onwards the bike was put onto a board-on-wheels that was pulled along.
He is a staunch Democrat and has spent much of his time and money towards various liberal causes as well as the campaigns and elections of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama.
He has the played the same character (Arthur 'Fonzie' Fonzarelli) on five different series: Happy Days (1974), Laverne & Shirley (1976), Mork & Mindy (1978), The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang (1980) and Joanie Loves Chachi (1982).
His acting mentor was the late Tom Bosley.
Will be appearing at the Kewadin Casino in Sault Sainte Marie, MI. in July 2010. [May 2010]
Appeared at The World Of Wheels in Birmingham, Alabama for a Happy Days Reunion along with costar Don Most. [February 2009]
Starring alongside Les Dennis in the Stage Production of "Peter Pan" at The Empire Theatre, Liverpool, UK. [December 2009]

Personal Quotes (16)

Thank you for listening to me... my parents never did. -- Austin College (TX) commencement address, 5/19/02
I started my career in kindergarten playing a tube of tooth paste in a play about hygiene.
I love being a parent. (April 2007)
There is a gigantic learning curve for parents, knowing when to shut up. My son Max says to me, "Every time you talk to my friends, there has to be a life lesson. Can't you just say hello?"
I was 31 when I realised I wasn't stupid. Dyslexia was diagnosed in me, along with my stepson Jed and, as it turns out, in all our children. They've had the same confidence issues I had. You can't protect them from that, but what you can do is tell them they're fantastic 15 times a day.
American movies have destroyed people's ability to relate. If a guy puts his head on your stomach, soon enough that head will feel so heavy, it hurts. The reality is that relationships are hard work with tremendous highs and desperate lows, incredible battles and moments of wonder and admiration. You have to take the whole package.
I've been married to Stacey Winkler for 30 years. The key to an enduring relationship is in the ear, not the heart or mind. How you think or feel about what you are saying is not what is important. What matters is how they hear it. After 30 years, there is only one reason to stay together - because you really want to.
The Fonz was the Yin to my Yang. He was everything I wanted to be because there was nothing cool about me growing up. I became good looking when I was 28, when Happy Days started. Suddenly girls were knocking on my hotel door. Being chased was wonderful with a capital W. Holy mackerel, yes! I was happy to take advantage of that for a couple of years.
I could never hang on to girlfriends. I was funny, but too intense. I wrote one girl 150 love letters, all of them misspelt, and waited like a puppy outside her classroom door. Turned out she was seeing someone else all along.
I learnt to have a sense of humour. As an undiagnosed dyslexic, you spend a third of your time trying to figure out what's wrong with you, a third of your time trying to figure out why you can't figure it out and the final third trying to cover up the shame and humiliation.
I vowed two things as a boy. The first was that I would be an actor, the second that I would never be like my parents. My father spoke 11 languages, my mother had no problem spelling. Their nickname for me was dummer hund - dumb dog, said often enough for it not to be funny. The idea that a child should be seen and not heard is arcane and barbaric.
My one word with which to live life would have to be tenacity. My parents were Jews who fled Nazi Germany in 1939. I learnt tenacity from them when what I needed was their pride.
And then I got to act with him for 10 years and he was great. Tom Bosley was our mentor. He was a true artist ... a great husband, and a fabulous father and grandfather. He will be sorely missed, but never forgotten. --- On the death of series' lead Tom Bosley, who played Howard Cunningham
Tom was a family member, both on and off the sound stage. We acted together, traveled together and played charades together. He was a loving husband, a doting father and a fantastic grandfather. - Of Tom Bosley
[on being fired from Turner & Hooch (1989)] Let's just say I got along better with Hooch [a canine] than I did with Turner [Tom Hanks].
[on turning down the role of Danny Zuko in Grease (1978)] John Travolta went on to buy a plane. I went home and had a Coke. That was probably not a really smart business decision.

Salary (1)

Happy Days (1974) $50,000 per 1/2 hour episode

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