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Henry Franklin Winkler (born October 30, 1945) is a Golden Globe Award-winning American actor, director, producer, and author.

Winkler is most famous for his role as Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli on the popular sitcom Happy Days (19741984). Winkler gained national fame for his auto mechanic-greaser role as "The Fonz", starting out as a minor character at the show's beginning but having top billing by the time the show ended.

Biography

Personal life

Winkler was born in Manhattan, New York, the son of Ilse Anna Maria (née Hadra) and Harry Irving Winkler, a lumber company executive.[1] Winkler's Jewish parents emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1939, before the beginning of World War II.[2] Winkler attended the McBurney School and received his bachelor's degree from Emerson College in 1967 and his MFA from the Yale School of Drama in 1970. In 1978, Emerson gave Winkler an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Winkler has also received a Doctor of Humane Letters from Austin College.

Winkler has been married to Stacey Weitzman since May 5, 1978, and they have two children, Zoe and Max, and a stepson Jed from Stacey's previous marriage with Howard Weitzman. His cousin, Richard Belzer, is also an actor.

Career

Winkler started acting by appearing in a number of television commercials. In October 1973, he was cast for the role of Fonzie in the TV show Happy Days. The show was first aired in January 1974. During his decade on Happy Days, Winkler also starred in a number of movies, including The Lords of Flatbush (1974), playing a troubled Vietnam veteran in Heroes (1977), The One and Only (1978), and a morgue attendant in Night Shift (1982), which was directed by Happy Days co-star Ron Howard. Winkler was also one of the hosts of the 1979 Music for UNICEF Concert.

For Happy Days, director/producer Garry Marshall originally had in mind a completely opposite physical presence. Marshall sought to cast an Italian model-type male in the role of Fonzie, with intent of his being a stupid foil to the intended real star, Ron Howard. However, when Winkler, a Buddhist Yale MFA student interpreted the role in auditions, Marshall immediately snapped him up, smelling success. Winkler's character, though remaining very much a rough-hewn outsider, gradually became the focus of the show as time passed (in particular after the departure of Ron Howard), a testament to Winkler's acting and Marshall's foresight. One of the auditioners whom Winkler beat out was Micky Dolenz, who had co-starred in his own teen-oriented show, The Monkees, a few years earlier. Another interesting note about the character was his early appearance. ABC executives did not want to see the Fonz wearing leather, thinking the character would appear to be a criminal. The first 13 episodes show Winkler wearing two different kinds of windbreaker jackets, one of which was green. As Winkler said in a TV Land interview "It's hard to look cool in a green windbreaker". Marshall argued with the executives about the jacket. In the end, a compromise was made. Winkler could only wear the leather jacket in scenes with his motorcycle, and from that point on, the Fonz was never without his motorcycle.

After Happy Days, Winkler's acting career pretty much ended as he began concentrating on producing and directing.

In 1979 Winkler appeared in the made for TV movie An American Christmas Carol, which was a modern remake of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. An American Christmas Carol was set in Concord, New Hampshire during the Great Depression. Winkler played the role of Benedict Slade, the Ebenezer Scrooge equivalent of that film. He produced several television shows including MacGyver, So Weird and Mr. Sunshine, Sightings, and the game shows Wintuition and The Hollywood Squares (the latter from 20022004 only). He also directed several movies including the Billy Crystal movie Memories of Me (1988) and Cop and a Half (1993) with Burt Reynolds.

As the 1990s continued, Winkler began a return to acting. He is good friends with horror movie director Wes Craven and played an uncredited role as a high school principal in Craven's 1996 movie Scream (1996). In 1998, Adam Sandler asked Winkler to play a college football coach, a supporting role in The Waterboy (1998). He would later appear in two other Sandler films, Little Nicky (2000), and Click (2006, as the main character's father). He has also played small roles in movies such as Down to You (2000), Holes (2003), and I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007). During this time, he also starred in the short-lived Fox sitcom Monty.

Winkler recently had a recurring role as incompetent lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn in the Fox Television comedy, Arrested Development. In one episode, his character hopped over a dead shark lying on a pier, a reference to his role in the origin of the phrase "jumping the shark". After that episode, Winkler in interviews stated that he was the only person to have "jumped the shark" twice.

When Winkler moved to CBS for one season to star in 200506's Out of Practice, his role as the Bluth family lawyer on Arrested Development was taken over by Happy Days co-star Scott Baio in the fall of 2005, shortly before the acclaimed but Nielsen-challenged show ceased production.

Winkler has guest starred on television series such as South Park, The Practice, The Simpsons (playing a member of a biker gang, he in one scene calls Marge "Mrs. S", a reference to Fonzie calling "Happy Days" matriarch Marion Cunningham "Mrs. C"), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Third Watch, Arrested Development, Crossing Jordan, Family Guy and King of the Hill. The Weezer video for 1994's "Buddy Holly" featured Henry Winkler as the Fonz and featured Weezer performing in Arnold's restaurant.

Winkler's most recent appearances were on KTTV's Good Day L.A.. One time when substituting for Steve Edwards, Winkler reunited with fellow Happy Days cast member Marion Ross. Winkler appeared in his first pantomime at the New Wimbledon Theatre, London in 2006, playing Captain Hook in Peter Pan, replacing David Hasselhoff who pulled out when he was offered a TV role by Simon Cowell. He reprised the role in Woking, England for Christmas 2007. Winkler made a cameo appearance in the band Say Anything's video for "Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too". Winkler also has critically acclaimed guest appearances on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.[citation needed]

Since 2003, Winkler has collaborated with Lin Oliver on a series of children's books about a 4th grade boy, Hank Zipzer, who has dyslexia. Winkler also has the learning disability, and said this was a painful part of his childhood. Winkler has published 14 books about his hero Zipzer, the "world's greatest underachiever."[3]

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