Henry Winkler, launched into prominence by his role as 'The Fonz' in the beloved Happy Days, has transcended the role that made him who he is. Brilliant, funny, and widely-regarded as the nicest man in Hollywood — though he would be the first to tell you that it’s simply not the case, he’s really just grateful to be here.
Adept and sought-after as both an after dinner and motivational speaker, Henry Winkler shares with his audiences the disheartening truth of his childhood, the difficulties of a life with severe dyslexia, the pressures of a role that takes on a life of its own, and the path forward once your wildest dream seems behind you.
With profound heart, charm, and self-deprecating humour, there is so much more to Henry’s speeches than a life in Hollywood and the curse of stardom. He is a living testament to the power of sharing truth and kindness and of finding fulfilment within yourself.
Henry has enjoyed five decades of success in Hollywood and continues to be in demand as an actor, producer and director. Since the glorious era of Happy Days fame, he has endeared himself to a new generation with roles in such adored shows as Arrested Development, Parks and Recreation, and Barry, where he’s revealed himself as an actor with immense depth and pathos, a departure from the period of his life when he was so distinctly typecast as 'The Fonz', he could hardly find work.
Born in New York City, Henry's parents emigrated from Germany to the USA in 1939 before the beginning of World War II. He made his acting debut as Billy Budd in the eighth grade at the McBurney School for Boys in New York City. During his high school and college years, he studied in Lausanne, Switzerland and worked in a lumber mill in a small German town.
Henry struggled with academics throughout his childhood, dealing with what would today be identified as dyslexia. So, whilst millions of teenage Happy Days fans watched in envy as he sat astride his gleaming Harley-Davidson and, with just one wink, had girls flocking around him, the reality was completely different.
Henry couldn't actually ride the bike because his co-ordination was so poor — one symptom of dyslexia — a condition that crippled him since childhood and remained undiagnosed until he was 35. Instead, the Harley was mounted on a piece of wood on wheels and pulled along for action scenes.
Graduating from College and later receiving a Masters from Yale's School of Drama, Henry Winkler's acting career began with appearing in over thirty TV commercials. Then, in 1974, he landed the role which would change his career path and go on to make him a global household TV star — that of Arthur 'Fonzie' Fonzarelli on ABC's Happy Days — as he became the worldwide epitome of cool.
During his 10 years on the popular sitcom, Henry won two consecutive Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor in a Comedy Series (1976 and 1977), was nominated three times for an Emmy Award and was also honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In the 1980's, Henry began producing many television shows, while at the same time appearing in films such as The Waterboy and Scream. In recent years, he appeared in a number of series, including Arrested Development, Children's Hospital, Royal Pains, New Girl and Parks and Recreation.
He also starred and co-executive produced the NBC Reality travel series Better Late Than Never with William Shatner, Terry Bradshaw, George Foreman and Jeff Dye, and is an executive producer of the revised MacGyver series.
Henry Winkler is also a New York Times best-selling author. In 2003, together with his writing partner Lin Oliver, they became best-selling authors with their children's book series, Hank Zipzer – The World's Greatest Underachiever. The books were inspired by Winkler's struggle throughout his education due to his learning challenges.
To date, they have written 35 children's novels. All the books are sold online, in bookstores around the world and have been published around the world in seven languages, with more than 5 million copies sold.
In 2011, he published a collection of anecdotes and heartfelt observations, I Never Met an Idiot on The River. The book is a collection of the lessons and photos Henry Winkler gathered while fly fishing in Montana.
Henry has received a number of accolades from a variety of prestigious organisations, including B'nai B'rith, Peace Prize by the United Nations and Women in Film's Norma Zarky Humanitarian Award. He also received the Chevallier de l'Ordre des Artes et Lettres, the French government's highest honour.
In 2011 he was awarded the Honorary Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) from HM the Queen in recognition of his services to children with dyslexia and special education needs. He travels from Los Angeles.