Not every day was happy for Henry Winkler.
This is an excerpt from Fox News.
The Emmy Award-winning actor, who starred as Arthur Herbert “The Fonz” Fonzarelli on “Happy Days,” has written a new memoir published on Halloween, “Being Henry: The Fonz… and Beyond.” In it, the star detailed how he skyrocketed to fame on the hit sitcom and how his character’s popularity tested his friendship with Ron Howard, who played Richie Cunningham on the show.
“I was very aware never to be less than respectful to him,” Winkler, 78, told Fox News Digital. “I was always careful never to flaunt anything that was happening to me on the sound stage in front of the cast members, including him. I’m lucky [my character’s popularity] was happening, but I was a member of an ensemble, which was higher than bragging.”
The series, which chronicled the lives of the Cunningham family in the 1950s, aired from 1974 to 1984.
“I learned a lot from Ron,” Winkler reflected. “He was completely grounded by his parents, who never allowed any bad behavior. He was being a professional. This was his job, and I learned from watching him. I’m older — 10 years older — so I had the experience of theater and commercials on the East Coast on how to be a professional. I never doubted my responsibility for what I had to do, but I still had a lot to learn.”
“I remember one time I got overly emotional [trying to memorize my lines],” Winkler continued. “It was Ron who took me back to the sound stage and said, ‘If I were you, I probably wouldn’t hit my script.’ I said, ‘Ron, I’ll never hit my script as long as I live.’ Nor did I ever.”
In the book, Winkler describes that while “Happy Days” was designed to have Howard be the star, his greaser role had taken off. Winkler was quickly given a raise from ABC. Worried how Howard might feel, Winkler reached out to his pal.
“You’re not letting this go to your head or change who you are,” Howard told Winkler, as quoted in the book. “You’re a great team player. What you’ve created is incredible… for the show. But if I’m honest, I have to say it does hurt my feelings; more than that — it’s made me angry at times. Because you’re right — I was supposed to be the star of the show. But I was never angry at you, Henry.”
Leonard Goldenson, the president of ABC, even wanted to change the title of the show at one point — to “Fonzie’s Happy Days.” Winkler balked at the suggestion.
“I’m asking you not to do that,” Winkler pleaded, as he wrote in his book. “If you do that, it is so disrespectful to everybody who has been doing ‘Happy Days’ as a family together with me… How much more of a success can you make the show by changing the name… That would be so hurtful — just as a slap in the face to everyone else in the cast.”
According to Winkler, “Happy Days” producers Tom Miller and Ed Milkis even approached Howard with the title change suggestion. Howard threatened to leave “Happy Days” and return to film school at USC.
Read the full story here.