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Henry Franklin Winkler (born October 30, 1945) is an American actor, director, producer, and author.

Background

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).

Career

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.

Trivia

  • He worked with Ron Howard, who plays the narrator, on Happy Days
  • Henry is currently starring HBO's Barry series

See also