Henry Winkler and Ron Howard have been connected since their glory days on ABC’s hit sitcom Happy Days.
Howard starred as Richie Cunningham, a high school student who hung out with his friends. Winkler played leather-jacket-wearing Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli, the forever cool dude from Milwaukee who made girls swoon at his feet.
Both played integral parts in the show’s success. Of course, it also could cause some problems between these stars too. Yet Henry Winkler and Ron Howard forged a pretty solid friendship that’s weathered a storm or two. So, are they still friends to this day?
In a short answer, yes. Winkler recently reflected on that 50-year-long friendship by sharing this story about Howard and himself.
Henry Winkler Sees an ‘Old Soul’ in Ron Howard
“Ron, he’s an old soul. There’s a wisdom in him that is big,” Winkler said in an interview with Today. Winkler shared that he was having trouble getting a line down from the show’s script. He started punching the script itself. Ron Howard grabbed Henry Winkler and stepped outside.
“Now Ron Howard was almost ten years younger than I was. But Ron had been around the block a lot more times than me,” Winkler writes in his memoir, Being Henry: The Fonz…And Beyond. “The writers are working as hard as they can,” Howard said to Winkler. “They’re trying hard.” What did Winkler say? “I went, ‘Ron, I’ll never do that again.’ And that was the beginning of our friendship.”
This friendship is so tight that Winkler is the godfather to all four of Howard’s children. Of course, they have had their ups and downs at times.
At one point, Fonzie became the most popular character on Happy Days. Moreso than Richie Cunningham. ABC reportedly decided to give Winkler a raise and more air time. Then, they stepped on the gas and renamed the show to Fonzie’s Happy Days.
‘Happy Days’ Stars’ Friendship Tested at Crucial Moment
But that didn’t sit well with Henry Winkler and Ron Howard, too. This situation did prove upsetting to Howard, though. It tested their friendship at a crucial time. Winkler refused to let the name change happen. Howard even threatened to quit Happy Days, according to Remind Magazine.
This situation sent Ron Howard and Henry Winkler into a tailspin. But Howard could see that this wasn’t his friend’s fault. “You’re not letting this go to your head or change who you are,” Winkler recalls Howard as saying. “You’re a great team player. What you’ve created is incredible… for the show. But if I’m honest, I have to say it does hurt my feelings; more than that — it’s made me angry at times. Because you’re right — I was supposed to be the star of the show. But I was never angry at you, Henry.”
Howard eventually left to focus on his directing work. Happy Days was near the end of its run, but Ron Howard didn’t forget about Henry Winkler. When Howard directed Night Shift, Winkler played one of the movie’s lead roles along with Michael Keaton.
With all of their history, Howard and Winkler have tasted the sweet nectar of success. And their friendship could not be tighter than it is today.
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