Lifestyle & Human Interest

Fonzi Admits Truth of 14-year Absence from Camera after End of "Happy Days"


He was one of the most popular actors of his time, and his success has continued into his 70s. The now 72-year-old Henry Winkler was one of TV’s most lovable actors.

Despite the show airing back in 1974, there are few people who don’t know about Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli, aka “Fonzie,” aka “The Fonz.”

What’s really amazing is that Fonzie wasn’t even supposed to be a main character on the show until he became too popular to keep him off the big screen.

While so many of us love Henry Winkler, you may not have even realized he had a bit of an absence from acting after “Happy Days.” For about ten years, Winkler didn’t really know what to do with himself.

Many people don’t know about the tough time Winkler had growing up, which contributed to this gap in his career. His parents were immigrants from Nazi Germany and would call him a German name that translated to “dumb dog.”

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His parents were not supportive, but neither were his teachers. It turns out that he had dyslexia, which was humiliating and scary for him back then.

Once he struggled his way through high school, he applied to 28 colleges and ended up only getting accepted into two. He eventually worked his way into Yale by improvising a Shakespeare monologue.

There’s nothing quite like a good underdog story, like the girl who has overcome it all to become one of America’s best runners.

At age 27, “Happy Days” and The Fonz would change his life forever. Once the show was over, Winkler didn’t really know what to do with himself.

On top of struggling through dyslexia, Winkler had a hard time finding work because nobody wanted to hire him since the audience would still only see him as “The Fonz.” He finally filled the gap in his career by beginning to produce and direct.

Another big help in overcoming dyslexia was his wife and his new-found passion of fishing. His wife, Stacey Weitzman, always believed in Henry, and watched over the kids when he was out working.

Winkler’s love for fishing has prompted it to become his favorite pastime over the last 20 years.

Were you surprised by Winkler's admission?

He told CBS Sunday Morning that he loves fishing because of “the place of it, the sound of it, the green of it, and what happens when you’re fishing you cannot concentrate on anything else. Not a problem in the world bothers you at this moment.”

Despite his troubles reading and writing, Winkler has become quite a successful co-author, with the help of Lin Oliver. While the two brainstorm ideas, Oliver takes care of the writing.

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It’s impossible not to like Henry Winkler and I’m so glad to see that he’s been able to overcome such obstacles.

With determination, you can achieve so much!

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Daniel Tofil is a former contributor to Liftable, a publication of the Western Journal.