"If you know what you want, and you keep your eye on the prize and you move toward it there is no reason you cannot live your dream."
About This Interview
Henry Winkler starred as "Fonzie" in Happy Days from 1974-84, then began to produce and direct television starting in the '80s while continuing to act- earning his fifth Primetime Emmy nomination as a guest star on The Practice. Winkler says of acting "you have to need to act, because it is such a difficult profession." He discusses his early years, as the child of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, his early passion for acting, and his struggles with then-undiagnosed dyslexia. Winkler chronicles his early career in New York, where he acted on stage and in numerous commercials and his subsequent decision to move to Los Angeles, where he was quickly cast as a guest actor on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He details all aspects of the role for which he became most known, Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli on the hit sitcom, Happy Days. He talks about his casting, the development of the character, working with the cast (particularly Ron Howard and producer Garry Marshall), and the iconic status (and occasional mayhem it generated) of Fonzie as well as his catchphrase --"whoa ". Of developing the character, Winkler says he didn't want it to be a stereotype: "I would never comb my hair. I would never chew gum. I would never wear a Garrison belt, I'd never have cigarettes in my sleeve because every actor who ever played this character did that." He reveals that because of his dyslexia, as "Fonzie" he never actually rode a motorcycle. He speaks about fame and celebrity, and being grateful he experienced this later in life, when he could fully appreciate it. Winkler chronicles his transition to directing and producing, which included being executive producer of MacGyver, and his later acting projects including Arrested Development and The Practice. Of producing he says "you must have passion, and you must tell stories that really illuminate the human condition. That's our job." Henry Winkler was interviewed in Los Angeles, CA on November 10, 2006; Karen Herman conducted the two-and-a-half-hour interview.