Happy birthday to the Fonz. Henry Winkler is 70.
Raise a toast (and a thumb) to the man who is Fonzie. And so much more.
Henry Winkler has done what few sitcom actors ever have. He shook off his typecasting. He is no longer seen as just being the Fonz.
In some ways, because of his warm, gentle demeanor as an actor, not to mention his great success as an author of children's books, it can be hard to retroactively imagine Henry Winkler as Fonzie. That's a credit to his range. His comedic roles on postmodern sitcoms like Arrested Development and Parks and Rec are a far cry from the jukebox-whacking greaser of Happy Days. Still, he worked in some funny homages.
But let's rewind the clock. That animated GIF (courtesy of Reddit) demonstrates just how good Winkler was as the Fonz. Early on, the character was forced to wear windbreakers, gray and green, as producers feared a leather jacket would come across as too criminal. Winkler made the character ooze cool nonetheless.
Winkler, a Yale drama grad, had practice. Before the premiere of Happy Days in 1974, he had filmed The Lords of Flatbush, a movie about leather-clad teenagers in the 1950s. You can see the trailer below.
Before that, he had appeared on Mary Tyler Moore ("The Dinner Party") and The Bob Newhart Show ("Clink Shrink"). On the latter, he wore a suit and polka dot tie, but played a man convicted of armed robbery. On the former, he also wore a suit and polka dot tie. He shook off that typecasting, too. Keep your eyed peeled for both guest spots as the series air as part of MeTV's Last Laughs on Sunday Nights.
So, happy 70th birthday to Henry Winkler. Ivy League alum. Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Literacy Hero of the United Kingdom. And, yes, the Fonz.