“Happy Days” wouldn’t have been the hit that it was without Henry Winkler’s iconic performance. In fact, making The Fonz a major character in the show helped to save it from cancelation after the first season.
Even if someone has never watched the hit series, they know about the leather-clad greaser with a heart of gold. That’s how important Fonzie was to both the show and to culture as a whole. It’s hard to imagine anyone else wearing that signature leather jacket. However, Henry Winkler had to overcome some serious issues to land and keep the role.
Firstly, he had trouble reading the scripts for “Happy Days,” because he was dyslexic. This led to issues in learning his lines. Those issues weren’t new for Winkler though. He struggled academically his entire life due to his dyslexia. In fact, his parents and teachers called him stupid throughout his childhood. He never forgot their stinging barbs. Being insulted by those who should have been helping him planted a seed of anger deep in the actor’s mind from a young age.
He didn’t let it stop him, though. As a matter of fact, he used that anger to his advantage. Winkler once said that he used his tremendous well of anger to give The Fonz his edge. That’s right. Winkler took all of those insults from his parents and teachers and used them to make his “Happy Days” character a cultural touchstone.
The “Happy Days” star was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 31. After that, he learned ways to work around his learning disability. Since then, Winkler has gone on to do some great things.
The ‘Happy Days’ Star Overcame His Dyslexia in a Big Way
Henry Winkler has come a long way since his time on “Happy Days.” He has had a long and successful acting career. Winkler has been in several films and television shows since then. He even has several projects in the works right now. However, it isn’t his acting career that Winkler is most proud of.
After making “Happy Days” a huge hit, it would be fair to think that Winkler would see The Fonz as his greatest achievement. He overcame a disability and rose to stardom with the character, after all. However, that isn’t at the top of his list. In fact, the thing that he is most proud of may be his least-known work. Henry Winkler wrote a series of children’s books, according to NPR.
The books highlight the struggles and adventures of a boy named Hank Zipzer. The protagonist of Winkler’s series is dyslexic.
So, Henry Winkler went from struggling to read his scripts on “Happy Days,” to writing a series of books to inspire kids with dyslexia. Winkler is cooler than The Fonz ever was and that’s a tall order.