About Henry Winkler
Henry Winkler knows a thing or two about Hollywood, having spent over four decades enjoying success in the business. Not only is he an Actor, Director and Producer, you can add New York Times Best-Selling Author to his list of accomplishments.
Born in New York City on October 30, 1945, Henry began performing at the age of 14. A graduate of the Yale School of Drama in 1970, he moved back to New York to make his mark on Broadway, but decided to give television a try and headed to Los Angeles in 1973. He quickly found work in commercials and landed several guest spots on sitcoms including his first role on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” but an audition in October of that year changed his life forever.
Producer Garry Marshall and Tom Miller cast Winkler in the role of Arthur Fonzarelli, aka “The Fonz” (Fonzie) in the TV series, Happy Days. The ABC series was one of the most popular sitcoms from 1974 – 1984. During his 10 years on Happy Days, Henry won two Golden Globe Awards and was nominated three times for an Emmy Award. He was honored with a “star” on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Both his famous leather jacket and “Fonzie’s” lunch box became part of an exhibit at The Smithsonian in 1980.
Henry’s portrayal of “The Fonz,” made him one of the most recognized actors in the world and an international star…a status he still maintains to this day.
But while Happy Days and “The Fonz” continue to live in the past thanks to cable television, Henry Winkler lives very much in the present.
In the last few years, Henry appeared on a number of series. He starred in the popular Adult Swim series’ Children’s Hospital and had a recurring role on Royal Pains. He was also seen on The New Girl, Parks and Recreation and Arrested Development.
In August of last year, NBC premiered the reality series Better Late Than Never. Henry was both executive producer and one of the stars along William Shatner, George Foreman, Terry Bradshaw and Jeff Dye. The show was popular with both the viewers and the critics and will return for a second season in early 2018.
It’s hard to believe that Henry Winkler has been working in the entertainment industry for more than 40 years.
Happy Days made Henry Winkler a TV star, but the actor was able to make his mark in films as well. His motion picture credits include Night Shift, Here Comes the Boom, The Waterboy, Click, The Lords of Flatbush, Heroes, Holes and Scream.
Behind the scenes, Henry has also made his mark as a producer and director. He has executive produced or produced TV series and specials for 19 years. These include: MacGyver, (7 seasons) So Weird, Mr. Sunshine, Sightings, (7 seasons), A Family Again, All Kids Do It, (which won him an Emmy Award), Ryan’s Four, Scandal Sheet and the ABC documentary, Who Are the DeBolts and Where Did They Get 19 Kids?, which won the prestigious Humanitas Prize.
He also directed several movies including Memories of Me, starring Billy Crystal and the late Alan King, and Cop and a Half, starring Burt Reynolds.
On television Henry had the good fortune to work in both comedies as well as dramas. His guest role in the ABC series, The Practice, earned him an Emmy Award nomination. He also starred in the CBS sitcom, Out of Practice.
Among his most notable credits are guest-starring roles on series such as Numb3rs, The Bob Newhart Show, Third Watch, Crossing Jordan, Law and Order: SVU and the Hallmark Channel holiday movie, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. He also lent his voice to such shows as All Hail King Julien on Netflix, South Park, King of the Hill, Family Guy, The Simpsons and Clifford: The Puppy Years for which he received an Emmy Award.
No stranger to live theatre, Henry has appeared on Broadway in Neil Simon’s The Dinner Party (with the late John Ritter) and The Performers.
Henry has always been concerned about the quality of children’s television programming. He has produced countless worthwhile projects for a young audience including Happily Ever After for PBS and its sequel, Two Daddies to Love Me. Other specials were Run, Don’t Walk, and All the Kids Do It, which was about teenage drunk driving (Henry also directed).
Henry added “author” to his long list of accomplishments in 2003. The first book entitled, Niagara Falls or Does It: Hank Zipzer, The World’s Greatest Under-Achiever, became an instant best-seller. The books were inspired by Henry’s struggle throughout his education due to his learning challenges.
To date, he and his co-author Lin Oliver, have written 34 children’s novels. Their latest is HERE’S HANK: Hooray! My Butt Left the Bench. The HERE’S HANK series features a font, Dyslexie, never seen before in books published in the United States. The font was designed by a dyslexic Dutch graphic designer to help readers (including his own son) with dyslexia learn how to read.
In January 2012, Henry and Lin introduced a series of children’s books called Ghost Buddy. There are four books in the Ghost Buddy series.
All 34 novels are in bookstores across the United States and have also been published around the world in seven languages. The Hank Zipzer series has appeared on several Best Seller lists including the New York Times and have sold more than 5 million copies. Henry writes every day he is not acting or traveling.
The Hank Zipzer books have been turned into a TV series. After three years airing on CBBC (Children’s British Broadcasting Channel) it is now airing in the US on the Universal Kids network. Henry co-stars as one of his characters in the book, Mr. Rock, the music teacher.
In addition to the children’s books, Henry also wrote I’ve Never Met an Idiot on the River in 2011. The book was inspired by his love of fly fishing and contains life lessons and photos he took while fly fishing in Montana.
Henry has always believed in helping others. His work with children knows no boundaries. The list of groups with which he is associated is as long as his resume of acting credits. For the past three years he has been a featured speaker before audiences of thousands of children across America and Canada at WE Day Celebrations promoting education and service for students. His work also includes Honorary Chairman of United Friends of the Children; Founding Member of the Children’s Action Network; the first National Honorary Chairman of the Epilepsy Foundation of America; National Chairman of the annual Toys for Tots campaign; the National Committee for Arts for the Handicapped; the Special Olympics and the Los Angeles Music Center’s Very Special Arts Festival for children who are physically challenged and numerous teenage alcohol and drug abuse programs.
Never asking to be recognized for his personal commitment to helping others, Henry’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. His has received a number of accolades from a variety of prestigious organizations including B’nai B’rith, Peace Prize by the United Nations and Women in Film’s Norma Zarky Humanitarian Award presented to both Henry and his wife, Stacey, for their tireless efforts and devotion to the “improvement of the human condition.” Henry also received the Chevallier de l’Ordre des Artes et Lettres, the French Government’s highest honor. Henry was one of 10 individuals honored by AARP with their 2010 Inspire Award.
In 2011, he was awarded the Honorary Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) from the Queen of England in recognition of his services to children with dyslexia and special education needs.
His own challenges with learning – the diagnosis of dyslexia came when he was 31 – led him to send this message to children coping with their own learning difficulties: “no matter how you learn, it has nothing to do with your brilliance. You have greatness inside of you.” A favorite quote of Henry’s is from the great Austrian Jewish author Theodor Herzl said, “If you will it, it is not a dream.”
Of all the titles he has received, the ones he relishes most are husband, father and grandfather. Henry and Stacey have three children: Jed, Zoe, and Max, and five grandchildren. The Winklers reside in Los Angeles with their two dogs, Charlotte and Linus.