Since he was seven years old, and through much of his growing up, Henry Franklin Winkler had been discouraged by his parents from pursuing an acting career.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, tenacity would become a hallmark of his career as a successful and long career in Hollywood, which was described by himself, in refuting the idea of going into the family wood business, as the only kind of wood he was interested in.
Starting early in his acting career, Henry has also taken on hats of director, executive producer, and children’s book author.
The last of which came into fruition after decades of struggling through a condition which the audience would never have guessed by seeing his work.
Because of this difficulty, Winkler’s early educational period was filled with bumps on the road.
The Origin Story
Henry F. Winkler was born an October baby in 1945 into a German Jewish family.
Just about six years earlier, the Winklers decided to flee Germany and settled in New York City, which was Henry’s home for most of his early adulthood, until he moved to California right before his first big break.
He was called lazy and stupid for his poor grades throughout his primary and secondary education at P. S. 87 in Manhattan and McBurney School, respectively.
While his father regarded him as a “dumb dog,” Henry had never really believed he was stupid or lazy. He knew he was trying the best he could, but it just didn’t work.
He lagged behind so much that he had to stay behind at the time of his designated graduation to catch up with his Geometry.
As initial testaments to his intelligence, self-confidence, and resilience, Henry was admitted into Boston’s Emerson College, majoring in theatre with a minor in child psychology, intending to become a child psychologist if acting didn’t work out.
But as his years at Yale School of Drama, where he earned his MFA in 1970, and Yale Repertory Theatre showed, Henry was perhaps too humble when he made a plan B for his acting aspirations.
Winkler’s difficulties in school extended to the stage, as he struggled to remember lines or even to read directly off the scripts (still does) during his Yale auditions, for which he was supposed to perform a Shakespearean monologue.
To overcome this obstacle, Henry improvised a monologue based on his understanding of the character and nailed the audition.
This improvisation would later become one of his main compensatory strategies for the challenges he’s experienced.
Henry was one of the top students in Yale’s MFA program for drama, having been one of three invitees to join Yale Repertory Theatre company, out of 11 graduates, which was less than half of the initial admissions.
He stayed with the company for a year and a half before moving on to Broadway in 1973.
Winkler rose to fame with his role as what has come to be known as “Fonzie” in a then-new TV series Happy Days.
During his time with the show from its beginning to its end, 1974 to 1984, he continued to struggle with memorizing lines.
With particularly well-written ones, he would soak them up like a sponge, but on occasions when he would forget, he improvised. In fact, the famous “Fonz Dance” by Fonzie was an improvised interpretation of the Balkan hora.
His portrayal of Fonzie played no small part in getting him a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1981.
During his decade with Happy Days, Winkler also took on roles in several other films, earning him his first nominations for Emmy’s and Golden Globes.
Near the end of the show, in 1982, he first tried his hands at directing for a Happy Days spin-off.
After the hit TV show ended, Winkler ran into trouble getting jobs when he realized perceptions of him had been stuck with “Fonzie.”
But his creativity knows no bounds and no rest.
Until his return to acting in 1991, Henry Winkler had become known as a director and executive producer for various TV shows, game shows, children’s programs, and plays.
Notably, he won a Daytime Emmy for his production of “All the Kids Do It” episode of CBS Schoolbreak Special. His directing and producing work did not stop even after he returned to acting.
At the age of 31, during his time with Happy Days, Henry was diagnosed with dyslexia, finally providing an explanation to his struggles in school and on stage despite his obvious brilliance.
Motivated by his personal struggles, in 2003, he started to collaborate with the author Lin Oliver for the children’s book series Hank Zipzer, whose main character is dyslexic.
For his contributions to raising awareness and understanding of dyslexia and other learning disabilities through this book series, Henry was given the Key to the City of Winnipeg and was appointed by Queen Elizabeth as the Honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
Since his authorial debut, Winkler has continued collaborating with Oliver to write two more children’s book series and a memoir of his own.
From 2003 onwards, Henry has appeared in several acclaimed TV series, including Arrested Development and Barry, among others.
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Henry Winkler is married to Stacey Winkler, with a daughter Zoe and a son Max who became a director himself.
He also has a stepson, Jed, from Stacey’s previous marriage.
Henry Winkler is 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) tall.
Outside of his profession, Winkler is a big fan of fly-fishing, noting that it is the activity itself, rather than its potential rewards, that attracted him the most.
Henry Winkler – Net Worth
Winkler earned most of his wealth from performing in more than 140 movies and TV series, including – Royal Pains, Puppy Dog Pals, All Hail King Julien, Parks and Recreation, and more.
Therefore, actor Henry Winkler has an estimated net worth of $45 million.
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