Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Name: Henry Winkler
Birthdate: October 30, 1945
Famous Years: 1973-Present
Currently Known For: Barry
|Networth: $30 Million||Famous For: Happy Days, Parks and Recreation, Royal Pains|
October 30, 1945
Happy Days, Parks and Recreation, Royal Pains
The world of television has produced many iconic characters that audiences came to love. Those types of characters end up being part of Americana that are remembered for many years after their shows have been taken off the air. One of the more iconic characters ever produced was Arthur Fonzarelli in “Happy Days”, who people know better as The Fonz. Without Henry Winkler playing the role, the show might not have been as popular as it was, even if they did have him literally “jump the shark.”
Winkler was born in Manhattan, New York on October 30, 1945 to parents that had moved from Germany prior to World War II. When growing up, Winkler had problems reading since he suffered from dyslexia. It made school difficult for Winkler, and he almost didn’t graduate because of it. “I almost didn’t get to have the job I have today,” he said. “At my school, if you didn’t have a certain GPA, you couldn’t do arts, and I was dyslexic. I struggled a lot. But I was allowed to perform, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am for that.”
Winkler’s passion had remained in acting, even though dyslexia was holding him back in school. He even had to wait to earn his degree as he enrolled in summer school while the rest of his class graduated. Winkler was then able to get into Emerson College where he studied acting, and eventually found his way to the Yale School of Drama. In 1972, he would finally make his acting debut on television, having a minor role in “Another World”.
In the year that followed, Winkler would find himself landing many different supporting roles on television shows such as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Bob Newhart Show”. He also was on the big screen in films such as “Crazy Joe” and “The Lords of Flatbush”. That year, in 1974, Winkler would get the role of a lifetime as he earned the spot of The Fonz on “Happy Days”.
At first, the character wasn’t supposed to be featured too frequently, and was only a temporary idea for the series. “He was on the fringe,” Winkler said of his character. “I had six lines. I worked one day a week. So the other four days, I sat in my apartment, because I didn’t think you could go out and play on a work week. And (the character) grew steadily, and then all of a sudden there were episodes that were being written about this character.”
Winkler would continue to play the iconic character for a decade, acting in more than 250 episodes of “Happy Days”. The show ran until 1984, and Winkler had already been in films such as “Heroes” and “Night Shift” when he was on the series. He wouldn’t be on the big screen much following “Happy Days”, with his only role between 1982 and 1996 coming from voice work. Then, in the late 1990s, he’d pop back up in film, starring in movies such as “The Waterboy” with “Holes” and “Click” in the new millennium.
For the most part, Winkler has been on television, especially in more recent years. His more notable roles have come from shows such as “Arrested Development” where he plays Barry Zuckerkorn, as well as “Children’s Hospital” and “Royal Pains”. Now, Winkler finds himself as a main character on the series “Barry” that debuted in 2018 on HBO, starring alongside Bill Hader and Stephen Root.
Because of his work on the new series, Winkler would be nominated for an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. It would end up being a victory for Winkler, and the first time that he won an Emmy. He had been nominated several times for his roles in “The Practice”, “Battery Park” and “Who Are the DeBolts?” Of course, he’d also be nominated for his role in “Happy Days” on three occasions, though he didn’t win the big one until 2018.
After taking home the elusive award, Winkler said that “Over 7,400 people have been nominated between my last nomination and (this win).” He added that “Being a star has nothing to do with wanting to do what we do. I’ve dreamt of being an actor since I was seven years old living in new York City on the West Side with short, Jewish, German parents who did not want me to become an actor - until I became a star, at which point they became the ‘co-producers’ of Henry Winkler.”
In regards to how he feels as being classified as a TV icon, Winkler says that “I’m very proud that I am in that category. It’s hard for me as an individual to actually look in the mirror and see an icon. I see a husband, a father.” As for how The Fonz became iconic himself, “People wanted to be like him,” Winkler said. “People wanted to be cool. People loved the fact that he took care of his friends, that he was loyal, that he was really nonviolent. He only intimidated; he never actually (hurt) anybody. It seemed like he was his own person, which is something that, for Americans, is really important and really hard to do.”