Henry Winkler

Henry Winkler Biography

(1945–)
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Henry Winkler is an American actor best known for his portrayal of Fonzie on the hit 1970s sitcom 'Happy Days.' He has also produced and directed multiple television series.

Who Is Henry Winkler?

Henry Winkler is an American actor, producer and director best known for his portrayal of Fonzie on the hit 1970s sitcom Happy Days. He later appeared in movies like Scream (1996) and surfaced on numerous TV programs, including The Practice and Arrested Development. He currently stars in the hit show Barry as Gene Cousineau, for which he won his first Emmy.

Early Life

Henry Franklin Winkler was born on October 30, 1945, in New York City. An effervescent child, he loved performing and by the age of 14, Winkler decided to become an actor. Despite poor grades, his excellent audition won him acceptance into Yale University's Drama School. At Yale, Winkler devoted his time to performing, often rehearsing one play by day and performing in another by night. After graduation, he moved back to New York to make his mark on Broadway.

In 1973, Winkler moved to Los Angeles to take his shot at a career in television. Within two weeks he won a part as Valerie Harper's date on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and followed with a bigger role on The Bob Newhart Show. After a month in Los Angeles, Winkler was homesick for life in New York and decided to move back. Before packing his bags he went on one last audition, for the role of a biker in producer Garry Marshall's new TV series, Happy Days. Marshall originally envisioned a big hunky Italian in the part, but after Winkler's audition, his exhausting search ended.

'Happy Days' and Later Projects

On January 15, 1974, Winkler made his television debut as Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli on Happy Days. Despite only having a few lines and a secondary place in the storyline, Winkler began attracting attention. Before long, Winkler was receiving top billing alongside Ron Howard. His newfound fame was almost overwhelming as "Fonzie Fever" swept the nation.

Henry Winkler Happy Days Photo Courtesy Paramount Home Entertainment

Henry Winkler as Fonzie

Winkler's first major film role also came in 1974 with The Lords of Flatbush, in which he played a member of a Brooklyn gang.

After the cancellation of Happy Days, Winkler formed his own production company and went on to produce the successful television series Ryan's Four and MacGyver, and also directed the film Memories of Me (1988). Continuing his diverse acting career, he has performed in such films as the teen horror hit Scream (1996), The Waterboy (1998), starring Adam Sandler, the Emmy-winning television series The Practice and Arrested Development.

In 2018, Winkler began starring alongside Bill Hader in the comedy/drama series Barry. Winkler's role as acting teacher Gene Cousineau won him his first Emmy in 2018 for best supporting actor, as well as a nomination in the same category for 2019.

Personal Life and Charitable Work

Off-screen, Winkler is a devoted husband. He married wife Stacey Weitzman on May 5, 1978, and is a dedicated father to their two children as well as stepfather to Weitzman's son from a previous marriage. His dedication to children extends beyond his family; he served as the producer of All the Kids are Doing It and Strong Kids, Safe Kids and is an advocate for several groups that benefit underprivileged children. Additionally, he is involved with the Epilepsy Foundation, Toys for Tots and other charitable organizations.

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