“I don’t always keep my cool like The Fonz, but my love for my kids has given me plenty of “Happy Days.” Henry Winkler
American actor, producer, director, author and philanthropist Henry Winkler reached international fame portraying the endearing rebel “Fonzie” in the popular ABC sitcom “Happy Days” (1974-1984), wherein he won two Golden Globe Awards and three Emmy nominations. A major television icon during the mid-70s to the early 80s, the dark-haired performer recently re-established himself with younger viewers with his roles in the highly successful movies Scream (1996) and the Frank Coraci-directed The Waterboy (1998, earned a Blockbuster Entertainment nomination), as well as TV shows such as “The Practice” (1999-2000) and “Arrested Development” (2003-2005). In 2005, he took home a Daytime Emmy Award for his voice-over work in the animated series “Clifford’s Puppy Days.” For his behind the camera efforts, Winkler netted an Emmy nomination in the Oscar-winning documentary “Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get 19 Kids?” (1977), a Daytime Emmy Award and a Daytime Emmy nomination for the CBS Schoolbreak Special “All the Kids Do It” (1984) and a 1991 Genesis Award for the series “MacGyver.”
Outside of his hands-on acting and filmmaking activities, Winkler is a well-talented author. Along with Lin Oliver, he co-wrote a string of children’s books named “Hank Zipzer: The Mostly True Confessions of the World’s Best Under-Acheiver” (2003), which are based on his early fights with dyslexia.
Having been married to Stacey Furstman since 1978, Winkler has three children: Zoe Emily, Max Daniel and stepson Jed. Both he and his wife actively participate in numerous children’s charities and in 1988, were honored with the Humanitarian Award from Women in Film Crystal. They co-founded the Children’s Action Network (CAN) in 1990, which gives free immunizations to over 200,000 children. The 5’ 6½” multi-faceted entertainer also supports the Epilepsy Foundation of America, the annual Toys for Tots campaign, the Annual Cerebral Palsy Telethon, the National Committee of Arts for the Handicapped, and the Special Olympics. He is also the National Spokesperson for United Friends of the Children.
Childhood and Family:
Son of German Holocaust surveyors, Henry Franklin Winkler was born on October 30, 1945, in New York, New York. His parents, Harry Irving and Ilse Anna Maria Winkler, immigrated to the US in 1939. His father was the president of an international lumber company and his mother worked with his dad. He has a sister named Bea Winkler (born in 1940).
Dyslexic, Henry struggled with academics throughout elementary school and high school. He conquered his learning disability after graduating from Horace Mann High School and did well in higher education. He earned a B.A degree from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1967 and a MFA degree from the Yale School of Drama in 1970. Later, in 1978, he received his Ph.D. in Hebrew Literature from Emerson College.
In May 5, 1978, Henry married Stacey Furstman, who worked on “Saturday Night Live.” The couple has two children together, daughter Zoe Emily Winkler (born on September 30, 1980) and son Max Daniel Winkler (born on August 18, 1983). Henry also has a stepson named Jed Weitzman (born in June 1971).
“I started my career in kindergarten playing a tube of tooth paste in a hygiene play.” Henry Winkler
A dyslexic, young Henry Winkler found acting as his salvation. He made his debut performance as Billy Budd in a school production of the same name when he was in the eighth grade and by the time he had his first taste in front of the film camera in 1974’s Crazy Joe, he had appeared in countless television commercials and acted in several stage productions. Before long, the stage-trained actor was cast in his first significant role as Butchey Weinstein, a member of a Brooklyn mob, in The Lord’s of Flatbush (1974), which also starred the then-nameless Sylvester Stallone.
Winkler, however, did not hit the big time until he received the role of ‘Fonzie’ in the long-running 1950s nostalgia series “Happy Days,” which ran on ABC from 1974 to 1984. As the high school dropout and greaser, his character was rarely seen in the first few episodes because the network was afraid he would be identified as a thug. Nevertheless, the audiences loved the character and Happy Days’ ratings began to sky-rocket. The Fonz became a major icon in the 1970s. As for Winkler, his outstanding performance handed him two Golden Globes in the Best TV Actor - Musical/Comedy category, as well as three Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, one in 1976, 1977 and 1978.
During his decade on the Garry Marshall-created show, Winkler also worked in several films, including portraying a bothered Vietnam vet in Heroes (1977) and a morgue attendant in Ron Howard’s Night Shift (1982), for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical. He provided the voice of his Fonzie character for the animated series “Laverne & Shirley” (1976-1979), the Saturday morning cartoon “Fonz and the Happy Days Gan” (1980) and the 1982 series “Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour.” Additionally, he served as executive producer of the Academy Award-winning documentary “Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get 19 Kids?” (1977), from which he also jointly received a 1979 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Informational Program, starred in the ABC children’s educational special Henry Winkler Meets William Shakespeare (1977), played the lead role of Benedict Slade on the ABC film An American Christmas Carol (1979) and executive produced the short-lived ABC medical drama “Ryan’s Four” (1983), among others.
After “Happy Days” came to an end in 1984, Winkler’s acting career decelerated because he started focusing on directing and producing. In 1985, he won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Special, shared with Roger Birnbaum (executive producer) and Eda Godel Hallinan (producer), for his work in “All the Kids Do It,” a CBS Schoolbreak Special. The projects also brought him a Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing. Winkler also executive produced the Rob Reiner-directed film The Sure Thing (1985), the short-lived series “Mr. Sunshine” (ABC, 1986), the “ABC Family Theater” presentation “A Family Again” (1988), and served as producer for Barry Levinson’s Young Sherlock Holmes (1985). He had his TV Movie directorial debut with Dolly Parton’s A Smokey Mountain Christmas (1986) and his feature directorial debut with Memories of Me (1988), which starred Billy Crystal.
1991 saw Winkler take home a Genesis for Best TV – drama in the 1985 television series “MacGyver,” which he executive produced. He continued working behind the camera for films, including directing his sophomore effort Cop and ½ (1993), starring Burt Reynolds, as well as television films and series, the reality-based special “Sightings” (1992), the Showtime series “Dead Man’s Gun” (1997), “So Weird” (2000-2001), revivals of “Hollywood Squares” (2002) as well as “Unsolved Mysteries” (2003). He also directed episodes of the UPN comedy series “Clueless” (1996) and “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” (2000). During the mid-1990s to early 2000s, as an actor, Winkler proved himself popular with younger audiences with his performance in such hit movies as Scream (1996) and The Waterboy (1998), which gave him a Blockbuster Entertainment nomination for Favorite Supporting Actor – Comedy for his role as Coach Klein, opposite Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates and Fairuza Balk, and on television shows like “The Practice” (1999-2000), as Dr. Henry Olson, and the FOX “Arrested Development” (2003-2005), as attorney Barry Zuckerkorn.
While he was producing reunion specials for classic series like “Dallas” (2004), “Happy Days” (2005), “Knots Landing” (2005) and “Dynasty” (2006), Winkler also played roles in films like Berkeley (2005), The Kid & I (2005), The King of Central Park (2006), Unbeatable Harold (2006) and the Adam Sandler comedy Click (2006), and had a six-episodic turn as Dr. Stewart Barnes in the TV series “Out of Practice” (2005-2006). He even won a 2005 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program for his work in “Clifford’s Puppy Days,” where he voiced Norville.
The 62-year-old actor will appear with Paul Rudd, Michelle Pfeiffer, Stacey Dash and Fred Willard in the comedy/drama I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007), for director-writer Amy Heckerling. He is also set to have supporting roles in the upcoming A Plumm Summer (2007), an adventure starring William Baldwin and Lisa Guerrero, and the based-on-book First Comes Love (2008), alongside Kathy Bates and Jasper Cole.