Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Henry Winkler Turns 78: A Look Back at His Most Iconic Roles

Henry Winkler Turns 78: A Look Back at His Most Iconic Roles

Henry Winkler has had quite a fulfilling career and as he turns 78 years old, it’s worth looking at a few of his roles. Just by looking at a long list, one can tell that the Yale graduate has done some work. Much like a lot of young actors, Winkler took on parts that probably helped pay the rent.

Still, observing the different characters and styles of work that Winkler has done, it’s obvious that the man has been putting in his time. Winkler is most definitely more than one character, Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli on Happy Days. But Winkler went through a stretch where he could not get a role simply because producers saw “Fonzie” when he showed up.

These days, Winkler, when not celebrating a birthday, is cranking up a book tour for his memoir. He’s the proud owner of an Emmy Award since he picked up one for his work on the Bill Hader show Barry. Winkler plays Gene Cousineau on there.

OK, let’s look at a few of Winkler’s roles and see what they offered up.

Steve Waldman, ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’

Let’s acknowledge his initial foray into television. Henry Winkler plays Waldman, who is an uninvited dinner guest, in an episode of the classic CBS sitcom. Waldman recently lost his job, so Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper) brings Steve up to a party thrown by Mary Richards (Moore). He has a rap that he offers guests at the party: “I’m Steve Waldman. I’ve just been fired.”

Arthur ‘The Fonz’ Fonzarelli, ‘Happy Days’

Winkler started playing this role in a sometimes subdued way. At first, Happy Days was not filmed in front of a live studio audience. Fonzie wore a gray-looking coat at times. It wasn’t until they started filming live and put Fonzie in a stunning black motorcycle jacket that thigns picked up. Pretty soon, the “Fonzie” character caught on like a firestorm. This role cemented Winkler’s spot in popular sitcom history.

Chuck Lumley, ‘Night Shift’

This is a significant movie role for Henry Winkler. He’s been trying to find something different than Fonzie. Well, he gets to be a part of Ron Howard’s initial directing movie. Then, Michael Keaton and Shelley Long are part of the cast, too. The movie reveals another side of Winkler.

Coach Klein, ‘The Waterboy’

In 1998, Winkler found himself as part of an Adam Sandler movie. He plays the role of the coach to the hilt. Sandler and Winkler seem to work well together. When Henry Winkler recently launched his memoir to the public, Sandler brought back his character from The Waterboy on camera using his voice.

Gene Cousineau, ‘Barry’

As we said, this role led Winkler to pick up his first Emmy. He played Gene with such gusto and Winkler showed that he was willing and able to take on a role like Cousineau. Bill Hader showed that he had good taste in picking Henry Winkler for his show.