This interview was done three days before Tom Bosley, Mr. C on “Happy Days,” passed away at age 83 from heart failure.
Henry Winkler is about to turn 65 but that sure doesn’t mean retirement. In fact, the man known best as “The Fonz” remains very much on people’s radar. “A minute ago, I was 27!” he said.
He lived up to his reputation as the nicest guy in Hollywood. He was funny and personable and seemed to enjoy the interview.
Last Thursday, on the live “30 Rock” episode on NBC, his “Happy Days” character was a focal point of the plotline. A cleaning lady, played by Rachel Dratch, loves “Happy Days” and receives a birthday cake with The Fonz on it, but Tina Fey’s character Liz Lemon gets the cake instead.
“I sent an email to Tina Fey. I said you made me look great – even in cake!” said Winkler, who was in town this past weekend at the Abilities Expo at Cobb Galleria Center. He is a paid spokesman for Allergan, Inc. to promote the “Open Arms: Raising Awareness of Upper Limb Spasticity” educational campaign.
“I have a crush on Tina,” he added. “The last sentence in my email was ‘I love your brain.’ ” And though she had yet to get back to him, “I don’t feel any less love. I was flattered and honored.”
He is not perturbed nowadays about Fonz references. “I love them because I don’t know if I’d be sitting here today without the Fonz. He was the foundation for the rest of my professional life.”
Winkler is promoting the use of Botox to treat stroke victims suffering from upper limb spasticity. His mom, he said, died after several years with the condition, which can be demoralizing and debilitating.
The actor/producer is on two shows with medical themes: USA’s “Royal Pains,” in which he plays the con artist father of the lead character, and Adult Swim’s “Children’s Hospital,” which mocks medical dramas. He describes “Children’s Hospital” as “wildly inappropriate,” which is apropos since it’s on Adult Swim. Winkler plays the incompetent hospital administrator who in season two, set to start taping in December, gets demoted.
He has an 18-episode commitment for “Royal Pains,” which returns in January. He isn’t sure whether he’ll be back for another season but he hopes so.
Though Winkler is not a partaker of social media (no Twitter or Facebook account), one of his quotes seems to pop up around Twitter: “Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” “I wrote it years ago,” he said. “If you make an assumption, you will always be hit in the face by the two-by-four of fate. Assumptions are horrible.” His worst one: “My wife likes me!”
He also bragged that he’s the only person to ever jump a shark twice — once on the actual “Happy Days” and again on “Arrested Development.” The second time wasn’t a live one but “it was an homage.”
Here’s the magical “Happy Days” moment that became many years later a phrase for a plot point on a show that indicates the writers have run out of ideas. (Then again, “Happy Days lasted another six seasons after this episode.)
And the “Arrested Development” homage:
Here’s part one of the video interview, which covers upper limb spasticity, “30 Rock,” leather jackets and “Children’s Hospital.” My wife Helen is doing the videography so you might here her a couple of times:
And here’s part two in which he talks about turning 65, a stain on his sleeve, a Twitter comment, “Royal Pains,” his dyslexia with a note to the kids, and fly fishing.