He had a way with the ladies… and temperamental jukeboxes. He feared no sharks; only flat, lifeless hair. And now Henry Winkler – actor, comedian, director, producer, author, and an all-around cool dude – stands poised to celebrate a very special milestone.
Happy Birthday, Henry Winkler
And that’s because he was born on October 30, 1945, in West Side, Manhattan, New York, which means that this much-beloved performer is turning 75 years old today! Winkler, a long-time aspiring actor, successfully auditioned for the Yale School of Drama where he would participate in a plethora of stage productions and, ultimately, emerge with a Masters in Fine Art.
Upon graduation, Winkler hit the audition circuit and supplemented his income by appearing in a number of television commercials – including more than 30 in one calendar year.
His early credits include episodes of Another World (1972), The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1974), The Bob Newhart Show (1974), and Rhoda (1974), as well as the feature films Crazy Joe and The Lords of Flatbush, both released in 1974.
In late 1973, Winkler was hired to play Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli – AKA The Fonz or Fonzie – in the Ron Howard starring comedy Happy Days. The series premiered in January 1974 and began an immediate hit which would ultimately run 10 years and make a star out of Winkler and his leather-jacketed greaser character.
During his tenure with venerable ABC series, Winkler continued to appear in other mediums. He had lead roles in the films Heroes (1977), The One and Only (1978), Night Shift (1982) – directed by Happy Days’ Ron Howard – as well as the made-for-TV movies Katherine (1975), and An American Christmas Carol (1979).
Between 1976 and 1982, Winkler also portrayed Fonzarelli on a number of Happy Days spinoffs including Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, and Joanie Loves Chachi. He even lent his voice to the animated series The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang.
Following the cessation of the Happy Days program, Winkler briefly retired from acting, choosing to instead focus on his directing and producing efforts. In the ensuing decades, he served as producer on series like MacGyver, So Weird, Mr. Sunshine, Sightings, Scandal Sheet, and the game shows Wintuition and Hollywood Squares (2002-2004). He also directed the Billy Crystal vehicle Memories of Me (1988) and Cop and Half (1993) which starred Burt Reynolds.
In the 1990s, Winkler made a conceded effort to return to his first love: acting. Among his more prominent roles have been the foul-mouthed Principal Arthur Himbry in the slasher film Scream (1996) and disreputable lawyer Barry Zuckerman in the comedy series Arrested Development. He has also appeared in a number of projects shepherded by Adam Sandler, including The Waterboy (1998), Little Nicky (2000), and You Don’t Mess With the Zohan (2008).
Outside of his acting, Winkler is known for co-authoring 19 children’s books featuring a dyslexic fourth-grader, Hank Zipzer. Winkler, who is also dyslexic, wrote the bools in order to raise awareness of the medical issue.
Winkler has been married to Stacey Furstman Weitzman since May 5, 1978. Together the couple welcomed two children: Zoe Emily (born in 1980) and Max Daniel (born August 18, 1983). Winkler is also a step-father to Jed Weitzman, from Stacey’s previous marriage.
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