Aaay! Here’s how “The Fonz” gave back to his fans 24



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Remember “the Fonz”? Henry Winkler’s loveable character in the hit sitcom Happy Days was one of the show’s favourites but he was originally intended as a minor character. Due to his enormous popularity, however, Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli was written into every episode and Winkler played his iconic alter ego for 10 years.

In the early days, Mr Winkler found himself with some spare time on his hands, plus a heap of fan mail.

Speaking with Oprah Winfrey for her Where Are They Now series, the 69-year-old actor says he sometimes had only one day of shooting per week – as you’ll remember, The Fonz had a habit of breezing in and out of the Cunningham’s house whenever he fancied.

In an effort to keep himself busy, Mr Winkler asked for his fan mail to be delivered directly to his West Hollywood home.

“I read all of the fan mail,” Winkler told Oprah. “There were some letters that were just incredibly heartfelt, from every age”.

So The Fonz decided to reply personally to the letters than moved him so much, sometimes taking it a step further.

“I would call those people if they left their phone number,” he said in the interview. “And then I would spend 20 minutes going, ‘No, no, no, it’s really me!'”

After a while, Mr Winkler realised more fans questioned his authenticity than believed it was him, so he stopped calling. “But [when] I did call, I said, ‘I just want to say I loved your letter.'” We love this story because it reminds us of a time when famous people didn’t have Twitter or nose jobs. And of course, we love it because it’s The Fonz.

In an earlier interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2006, Henry Winkler said Fonzie was the most popular character he ever played.

“People expect me to be this guy who can walk into a dark room, snap my fingers, and turn on the lights. Or they want me to pound my fist on the hood of a car, and start the engine. I can’t do it. I’ve tried! I think the silliest request I ever got was when somebody asked me to quiet the animals in a zoo.

“The Fonz was everybody I wasn’t. He was everybody I wanted to be”.

Tell us, what would you say if you had Fonzie on the line?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Can remember a big boy at school in the seventies. He wore a leather jacket to school……..he was all of six……..and stood over the other smaller boys . He took them to his office ( the toilet block ) and was generally much feared by kindergarten kids.
    Until one day we went on a school excursion to Old Sydney Town and he fainted at the lashings
    He was never feared again. Every story written about this excursion included a sentence………….
    And the Fonze fainted.

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  2. Fonz was soo cool l loved the show it was funny it was also entertaining we need more of these sorts of shows and less programs with see crap I them

  3. I married the Fonz. The Australian version that is. White Tshirt, leather jacket, motorbike, hair and someone who could keep cars going with sticky tape and string. Our only car broke down outside high school and I had to go inside and ring him to say the car’s not going. He came on a motorbike, ferried the kids home one by one. I had to stay with the car. He came back with his bag of tricks and replaced the tappet lifters right there in the gutter. I can still see him sitting on the mudgard, feet on the motor, pulling stuff out and putting stuff back. Then it started. I drove home and he came home on the motorbike. We couldn’t afford a decent car then and only had an ex-taxi with huge mileage and he had an old motorbike. He kept them both going using spare parts and strong language. My Fonz is at his sister’s house right now, fixing the plumbing. Unfortunately the only thing he managed to fix with a clap of his hands was to make the kids obey.

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  4. You were Henry Winkler to me,and probably millions of other’s too,
    Fantastic as the ‘Fonz’ you were the lovable larrikin/lair it is true,
    Combing your special hairstyle, bold and sassy,
    one off person out there with flair, rough diamond not ‘Classy’!
    Underneath soft and kind looked after with those you cared for
    who could not help loving the character each week we saw. Reaffirmed in the adage ‘never to judge a book by it’s cover’
    As watching you do it on TV a good lesson for all to see in ‘action’ discover.
    So sure you have done many other ‘good things’ too
    You made a difference in my world it is true
    Thank you lots of good wishes I send to Henry Winkler ‘good on you’

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