Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Henry Winkler Reveals He Was Too ‘Frightened’ to Take Lead Role in ‘Grease’

Henry Winkler Reveals He Was Too ‘Frightened’ to Take Lead Role in ‘Grease’

Henry Winkler cemented his spot in television lore by playing Arthur Fonzarelli on the ABC sitcom Happy Days. Back when the show was a smash hit in the 1970s, Winkler also opened himself to other roles. One that came his way was Danny Zuko, the lead male character in Grease. He thought about playing the role but turned it down. As it turns out, Winkler was afraid of taking similar roles to Fonzie.

“I was dumb,” Winkler, 77, told People magazine in a recent interview. “I spent so much energy, so much time – I spent so many sleepless nights thinking, how do I not get typecast?” Winkler has been around the acting world long enough now that he’s picked up a few lessons. Of course, people know John Travolta took the Danny role opposite Olivia Newton-John in the movie.

From that knowledge base, here he’s offering some thoughts to those actors who might also face this predicament. “You go with the flow. What you do is you prepare to reinvent yourself. You do something completely different and then come back to center,” he said.

Once Happy Days came to an end, Winkler had to find new opportunities in the acting world. But they were few and far between at that time. He then turned his attention to becoming a producer and found success going along that road. But he did pick up acting parts in time, most notably in Adam Sandler’s comedy The Waterboy.

Henry Winkler Won An Emmy For His Work On ‘Barry’

In recent years, Henry Winkler has been seen in the Larry David sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm. His fans also kept up with him playing Gene Cousineau in Bill Hader’s HBO comedy Barry. It’s for that work that Winkler won his first Emmy Award.

When he’s not acting or producing, Winkler has found another outlet for his creativity. He has a series of children’s books out in the marketplace. Winkler filled up the times he was not in front of a camera with being behind a computer screen. The books tend to be created in order to help those with dyslexia read better. It’s a cause near and dear to Winkler’s heart as he’s dealt with it all his life.

Right now, Henry Winkler has been doing a number of interviews and appearances in support of his book, Being Henry: The Fonz…And Beyond. It’s now available for purchase online and at bookstores.

“I spent most of my adult life being frightened, on the outside looking like I had it together and mostly being anxious,” Winkler said. “The biggest lesson, I really now believe today in 2023 looking back, is not only must you be tenacious, not only must you be grateful, but you also have to be flexible.”