Henry Winkler, by any measure, has had an astoundingly successful career that saw him wear the hats of actor, director, producer and author. But it was his role as Arthur Fonzarelli—more affectionately known as “Fonzie” or “The Fonz” to fans—that launched him into the spotlight and afforded him those opportunities.
Originally, the role was intended to be a minor one, but it began to flourish as the inaugural season progressed. “I had only six lines in the beginning,” says Winkler. “”During the first year… the first 12 episodes that we shot, the character started to grow.”
Winkler only recently answered what he says is the question he’s asked most: does he know how to ride a motorcycle? The answer to that is a surprising no. “There was always a guy with a rope,” admits Winkler, who says when he was working on the bike with a screwdriver, he was screwing air.
Not only that, but the original motorcycle—a Harley Davidson—was too big for him. But the replacement was a very special one, the Triumph TR6 ridden by Steve Mcqueen in The Great Escape.
Winkler will always credit the role of Arthur Fonzarelli for the success he’s seen throughout his career. And being recognized predominantly for that portion of his career is something he doesn’t mind at all.
“I loved playing ‘The Fonz,” says Winkler. “Look what he did, he gave me the world.”
Listen to DT’s full interview with Winkler: