Edit
Henry Winkler Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (4)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (38)  | Personal Quotes (17)  | Salary (1)

Overview (3)

Born in New 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, Ilse Anna Maria (Hadra) and Harry Irving Winkler, were German Jewish immigrants who escaped the Holocaust by moving to the US in 1939. His father was the president of an international lumber company while his mother worked alongside his father. Winkler is a cousin of Richard Belzer.

Winkler 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, he had other plans as he saw roles on stage as the key to his happiness. Winkler's 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, Winkler 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 Lords 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, 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. Unlike many other 1970s stars who rose to fame in a short period of time and developed "big heads", Winkler 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, Winkler 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 2018 after over 45 years in the entertainment industry, he won his first ever Prime Time Emmy Award: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role on the HBO series Barry (2018). In addition to his movie and film credits, Winkler 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 two million books in that time.

Winkler 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. Winkler 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, Winkler suffered a personal setback when John Ritter, unexpectedly passed away. Winkler 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)

Family (4)

Spouse Stacey Winkler (5 May 1978 - present)  (2 children)
Children Jed Weitzman
Zoe Winkler
Max Winkler
Parents Hadra, Isle Anna Maria
Winkler, Harry Irving
Relatives Richard Belzer (cousin)

Trade Mark (3)

His role as Arthur 'Fonzie' Fonzarelli
Smoky, gravelly voice.
Thick New York City accent.

Trivia (38)

Grew up in New York City and upstate in family's country home on Lake Mahopac, NY.
While making a documentary about dyslexia, Winkler himself found, at age 31, that he is dyslexic.
Was rehearsing lines with John Ritter before John collapsed and died.
Father of Zoe Winkler and Max Winkler. Father-in-law of actor Rob Reinis. Stepfather of Jed Weitzman (father is Howard Weitzman). 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).
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.
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-].
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.
Winkler is an amateur photographer who brings his camera to every shoot.
Received an Honorary 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 (1974) motorcycle resulted in him crashing into the sound-van. From that time onward, the bike was kept on a board-on-wheels that was pulled along.
A staunch Democrat, he has spent much of his time and money towards various liberal causes as well as to the campaigns of such politicians as Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama.
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).
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]
An accomplished water-skiing enthusiast, he once worked as a skiing instructor.
Founder and in charge of the film and TV company "Fair Dinkum Productions" in 1979. Fair Dinkum is an Australian slang word meaning honest, honestly or the truth or truthfully. He also founded Henry Winkler Productions and Monument Pictures in 1979, JZM Productions in 1983, Winkler/Rich Productions in 1984, Winkler/Daniel Productions in 1987 and Winkler/Levitt Productions in 2002.
Along with Tom Bosley, he is one of only two actors to appear in all 255 episodes of Happy Days (1974).
Won the 2018 Emmy Award in the Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category for his role as Gene Cousineau in Barry (2018).
Nominated for the 2019 Golden Globe Award in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television category for his role as Gene Cousineau in Barry (2018), but lost to Ben Whishaw for A Very English Scandal (2018).
In 2006, he worked on Out of Practice (2005), which reunited him with former Happy Days (1974) co-star Marion Ross. He credits her as being his acting mentor/best friend. She took him under her wing when he was 27, and he has highly praised her for his stardom in acting.
Best friend of Marion Ross and Tom Bosley. He referred to them as his parents, off the set of Happy Days (1974).
Despite being good friends with Tom Bosley, he couldn't attend his funeral, as it was for family only.
Before he was a successful actor/director and producer, he was an extra on a game show in New York City, New York, receiving $10 for the role.
Had graduated from McBurney School, in Manhattan, New York, in 1963, at age 17. 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.
Being relatively unfamiliar, Winkler had won the role away from Micky Dolenz as Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli on Happy Days (1974). It was because producer Garry Marshall was looking for an actor, being short, who would more easily fit in the frame with his castmates.
His father, Harry Irving Winkler, passed away on December 7, 1995, almost 4 months after his Happy Days (1974) co-star's Marion Ross's real-life brother, Gordon Ross, who passed away August 16 of that same year.
His second cousin Gary Winkler keeps Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies and timber wolves whenever they are not being used for filming any cinematic and television production.
As an unfamiliar actor, he had been mentored in the business by actress Marion Ross. His first television exposure with Ross was a co-starring role opposite her in the Happy Days (1974) series. Winkler played Ross's surrogate son/friend, Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli, for each and every one of the shows, (all 255 episodes), for the entire run.
He had a personal policy of not doing the Happy Days character in public, but made an exception when he and costars Anson Williams, Ron Howard, and Don Most had finished a public appearance at a Dallas shopping mall. Boxed in by 25,000 fans, he stared at the crowd and shouted -- in his best Fonz persona -- "All right, look here, there's a lot of you, and there are four of us. You're gonna separate like the Red Sea, and you're not gonna touch us." The crowd obeyed.
Credits Marion Ross as his favorite acting mentor/best friend.
Had frequently enjoyed working with his acting mentor Marion Ross on the set of Happy Days (1974) and shared his company with her, in real-life. He said in various interviews, Ross is one of the greatest women, on the planet, and Winkler carries with her, all the time.
Has highly praised Marion Ross for his stardom in acting.

Personal Quotes (17)

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.
I don't always keep my cool like The Fonz, but my love for my kids has given me plenty of "happy days."

Salary (1)

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

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

View agent, publicist, legal and company contact details on IMDbPro Pro Name Page Link

Contribute to This Page


Recently Viewed