Henry Winkler biography
Date of Birth: October 30, 1945
The son of Jewish immigrants who moved to the United States in 1939 to avoid the Holocaust, Henry Winkler was born in Manhattan. His first acting role was playing a tube of toothpaste in a kindergarten play, but by eighth grade, he earned the title role in the school play Billy Budd and was bitten by the acting bug for good.
He went on to receive a Bachelor's Degree from Emerson College in 1967, a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the Yale School of Drama in 1970 and a Ph.D. in Hebrew Literature in 1978 from Emerson. Still wanting to become an actor, he began his career in commercials and went on to make guest appearances on series such as Another World, Mary Tyler Moore and The Bob Newhart Show. His first lead in a motion picture was playing opposite Sylvester Stallone in The Lords of Flatbush (1974).
With his hair greased back and wearing a leather jacket, he looked exactly like what the producers of the new TV sitcom Happy Days were looking for. Despite his short stature (5'6") and not being Italian, he landed the plum role of Arthur Fonzarelli, otherwise known as The Fonz. Although the show starred Ron Howard in the lead role, The Fonz, who was the epitomy of cool, gained popularity with viewers and what started as a minor character wound up taking over the show. His fame skyrocketed as he won Golden Globes in 1977 and in 1978 for his work on the show, and was named Male Star of the Year at the 1978 ShoWest Convention.
During his 10-year stint on the show, Winkler tried his hand at movie stardom with films such as Heroes (1977) and Night Shift (1982), but his identification as The Fonz made it difficult for the public to picture him as anyone else.
Like many other TV stars who acquire sudden fame, his celebrity inevitably caused him to have "big head" syndrome and he was known to turn away young fans requesting autographs, but when the series was over and offers were few and far between, he realized that fame has a time limit. He turned to producing and directing, and accepted supporting and guest roles in whatever projects came his way.
Small roles in films such as Scream (1996) and the waterboy (1998) began to lead to more acting work for Winkler. He played recurring roles on TV's The Practice, Third Watch, Arrested Development, and Crossing Jordan. He also played a supporting role in the motion picture Holes (2003) and reunited with Adam Sandler, this time playing Sandler's father, in Click (2006).
Winkler has also co-authored a series of children's books based on his early struggles with dyslexia. He has been married to his wife Stacey since 1978 and they have two grown children together. He also had a hand in raising Stacey's son from her first marriage. Together they are involved in various children's charities and shared a Humanitarian Award at the 1988 Women in Film Crystal Awards.
Henry Winkler Filmography