American actor and director best known for his role as Arthur Fonzarelli in the 1970s American sitcom Happy Days.
Henry Winkler attended P.S. 87 on W. 78th Street and then graduated from McBurney School in 1963, both of which were located in Manhattan’s Upper West Side neighborhood.
After working in theater and getting fired from a play in Washington, he moved to New York City and supported himself by appearing in television commercials, one year doing over 30. He was able to support himself with the commercial work so he could do theater for free at Manhattan Theater Club.
For the character Arthur Fonzarelli, Happy Days director/producer Garry Marshall originally had in mind a completely opposite physical appearance, seeking to cast a hunky, blonde, Italian model-type male in the role, intended as a stupid foil to the real star, Ron Howard. However, when Winkler, a Yale School of Drama graduate, interpreted the role in auditions, Marshall immediately snapped him up.
During his decade on Happy Days, Henry also starred in a number of movies, including The Lords of Flatbush (1974), playing a troubled Vietnam veteran in Heroes (1977), The One and Only (1978), An American Christmas Carol (TV movie, 1979) and a morgue attendant in Night Shift (1982), which was directed by Happy Days co-star Ron Howard.
Henry Winkler was the narrator and executive producer of Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids?, a documentary film about Dorothy and Bob DeBolt, an American couple who have adopted 14 children. The film won an Academy Award for Best Feature-length Documentary in 1978.
In 1996, Henry’s scene-stealing, uncredited role in Scream (as foul-mouthed high school principal Arthur Himbry) thrust his onscreen career back into the mainstream. Shortly afterwards, Adam Sandler asked him to appear in The Waterboy (1998).
Winkler has guest-starred on television series such as Numb3rs, The Bob Newhart Show, South Park, The Practice, The Drew Carey Show, The Simpsons, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Third Watch, Arrested Development, Crossing Jordan, Family Guy, King of the Hill and Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil.
Since 2003, Winkler has collaborated with Lin Oliver on a series of children’s books about a 4th grade boy, Hank Zipzer, who, like Henry, is dyslexic.