Henry Winkler knows a thing or two about Hollywood, having enjoyed success in the business for more than four decades. Not only is he an actor, director, and producer, he’s also a New York Times best-selling author.
Born Oct. 30, 1945, in New York City, Henry began performing at 14. A 1970 graduate of the Yale School of Drama, he headed to Los Angeles in 1973 and quickly found work in commercials and TV. That October, Garry Marshall and Tom Miller cast Winkler as Arthur Fonzarelli, aka “The Fonz” or “Fonzie” in the TV series Happy Days. During his 10 years on the series, Henry won two Golden Globe Awards and earned three Emmy Award nominations. He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
While Happy Days and The Fonz continue to live in the past thanks to cable television, Henry Winkler lives very much in the present.
Henry’s newest adventure is co-starring with Bill Hader on HBO’s BARRY, which airs Sunday nights. He also executive produces and stars in BETTER LATE THAN NEVER, a funny travel reality show on NBC, along with William Shatner, George Foreman, Terry Bradshaw, and comedian Jeff Dye. Mr. Winkler has a regular recurring role on Arrested Development, which will air again late this summer.
He was previously seen on the popular Adult Swim series Children’s Hospital, Royal Pains, The New Girl, and Parks and Recreation. His guest role in the ABC series The Practice earned him an Emmy nomination. He has numerous other TV guest star and voice credits including Emmy-winning voice work on Clifford: The Puppy Years.
Besides his television work, Henry made his mark in films including Night Shift, Here Comes the Boom, The Waterboy, Click, The Lords of Flatbush, Heroes, Holes, and Scream. Directing credits include Memories of Me, starring Billy Crystal and the late Alan King, and Cop and a Half, starring Burt Reynolds.
Henry has executive produced or produced TV series and specials for 19 years. They include MacGyver, So Weird, Mr. Sunshine, Sightings, A Family Again, All Kids Do It (which won him an Emmy Award), Ryan’s Four, Scandal Sheet, and the ABC documentary Who Are the DeBolts and Where Did They Get 19 Kids? Which won the prestigious Humanitas Prize.
Henry has appeared on Broadway in Neil Simon’s The Dinner Party and David West Read’s The Performers. In 2003, Henry added “author” to his long list of accomplishments with the instant best-seller Niagara Falls, or Does It? Hank Zipzer, the World’s Greatest Underachiever.
To date, he and co-author Lin Oliver have written 33 children’s novels. The books were inspired by Henry’s struggle throughout his education due to his learning challenges. The Here’s Hank series features the font Dyslexie, designed by a dyslexic Dutch graphic designer. With Lin Oliver, Henry also created the children’s book series Ghost Buddy.
The Hank Zipzer books became a series on the Children’s British Broadcasting Channel, and a third season will air this summer with Henry co-starring as Mr. Rock, the music teacher.
In addition to the children’s books, Henry also published I’ve Never Met an Idiot on the River, a book of life lessons inspired by his love of fly fishing.
Henry is associated with many charitable and educational groups, especially those that help children. Among them are United Friends of the Children; the Children’s Action Network; the Epilepsy Foundation of America; Toys for Tots; the National Committee for Arts for the Handicapped; Special Olympics; and the Los Angeles Music Center’s Very Special Arts Festival for children with physical challenges.
For his commitment to helping others, he’s been recognized by B’nai B’rith and AARP; received the United Nations Peace Prize; and received the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Artes et Lettres, the French government’s highest honor. With wife Stacey he has received Women in Film’s Norma Zarky Humanitarian Award.
His own challenges with learning – the diagnosis of dyslexia came when he was 31 – led him to send this message to children coping with their own learning difficulties: “No matter how you learn, it has nothing to do with your brilliance. You have greatness inside of you.” This quote from Austrian Jewish author Theodor Herzl is Henry’s mantra: “If you will it, it is not a dream.”
Of all the titles he has received, the ones he relishes most are husband, father, and grandfather. Henry and Stacey have three children, Jed, Zoe, and Max, and five grandchildren. The Winklers reside in Los Angeles with their dogs, Sadie and Linus.