Henry Winkler Then and Now

By / June 12, 2024

Henry Winkler Then

Henry Winkler, born on October 30, 1945, in Manhattan, New York City, is an iconic figure in American entertainment.

Raised by his mother, Ilse Anna Marie (née Hadra), a homemaker, and his father, Harry Irving Winkler, a lumber import-exporter, Henry grew up in a family of German Jewish immigrants. 

His parents fled Berlin in 1939, just before the onset of World War II, seeking safety and a new life in the United States. 

This background instilled in Winkler a deep appreciation for his heritage and the sacrifices his parents made for their family’s future.

Winkler’s early life was marked by significant academic challenges due to undiagnosed dyslexia. 

henry winkler young
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Despite his struggles, he persevered and managed to graduate from McBurney School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in 1963, although this achievement required him to attend summer school. 

His determination to succeed academically despite his learning difficulties is a testament to his resilience and hard work.

Following his high school graduation, Winkler pursued higher education at Emerson College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1967.

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His passion for the performing arts led him to the prestigious Yale School of Drama, where he obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1970. 

This rigorous training provided Winkler with a solid foundation in acting and performance, setting the stage for his future success in the entertainment industry.

Family connections also played a significant role in Winkler’s life. His cousin, Richard Belzer, is a well-known actor, adding to the family’s presence in the acting world.

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Additionally, Winkler has a sister named Beatrice, who has been a part of his support system throughout his journey.

Henry Winkler’s story is one of perseverance and triumph over adversity. Despite the challenges posed by dyslexia, he pursued his dreams and achieved academic and professional success. 

His experiences have not only shaped his career but also inspired many who face similar struggles.

Winkler’s legacy extends beyond his acting career, as he continues to be a source of inspiration and support for those with learning disabilities.

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Henry Winkler Acting Career

Henry Winkler’s career began modestly with his first paid television job as a game show extra in New York, for which he earned $10. 

Supporting himself in New York City, Winkler worked in television commercials while performing free theater at the Manhattan Theater Club, demonstrating his dedication to honing his craft.

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Between 1968 and 1972, he appeared in numerous productions with the Yale Repertory Theater, showcasing his versatility in plays such as “Coriolanus,” “Macbeth,” “Gimpel the Fool,” and “Two by Brecht and Weill: The Little Mahagonny and the Seven Sins.”

Winkler’s big break came in 1973 when he landed the role of Butchey Weinstein in “The Lords of Flatbush,” alongside Perry King and Sylvester Stallone. 

Despite the film’s delayed release until 1974, that year proved pivotal for Winkler as he also appeared on popular TV shows like “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” and “Rhoda.”

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However, his most iconic role came when producer Tom Miller cast him as Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli, or “Fonzie,” on the sitcom “Happy Days.” 

henry winkler career
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Premiering in January 1974, the show catapulted Winkler to fame, and he remained with it until it ended in 1984. 

During his time on “Happy Days,” Winkler also starred in films like “Heroes” (1977), “The One and Only” (1978), and “An American Christmas Carol” (1979), expanding his repertoire.

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After taking a break from acting in the 1980s, Winkler made a gradual return in the 1990s. 

He starred in the controversial made-for-TV film “Absolute Strangers” (1991) and co-starred with Katharine Hepburn in “One Christmas” (1994). 

That same year, he returned to television with the Fox comedy series “Monty,” though it was short-lived, being canceled after six episodes. 

His career experienced a resurgence when Adam Sandler invited him to appear in “The Waterboy” (1998), marking the beginning of a fruitful collaboration.

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Winkler went on to appear in several other Sandler films, including “Little Nicky” (2000), “Click” (2006), and “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” (2008).

Winkler’s television career flourished as he guest-starred in numerous shows such as “Numb3rs,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” “South Park,” “The Practice,” “The Drew Carey Show,” “The Simpsons,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Third Watch,” “Arrested Development,” “Family Guy,” “King of the Hill,” “Royal Pains,” “Childrens Hospital,” “Parks and Recreation,” and “Barry,” among others.

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His diverse roles demonstrated his ability to adapt to various genres and formats, earning him critical acclaim and a broad fan base.

In addition to acting, Winkler achieved significant success as a producer and director. 

He narrated and produced the documentary “Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids?” (1977), which won an Academy Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary, a Directors Guild of America Award, and a Humanitas Award.

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A television version of the documentary also won an Emmy Award. After “Happy Days” ended, Winkler focused on producing and directing. 

He co-founded Winkler-Rich Productions with John Rich and, when Rich was not involved, operated under Fair Dinkum Productions. 

He produced popular TV shows like “MacGyver,” “So Weird,” “Mr. Sunshine,” and “Sightings,” as well as game shows such as “Wintuition” and “Hollywood Squares,” and directed films like “Memories of Me” (1988) and “Cop and a Half” (1993).

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Continuing his production career, Winkler signed on as executive producer for the Disney Channel original series “So Weird” in 1999. 

More recently, he served as the executive producer of the NBC series “Better Late Than Never” from 2016 to 2018, a travel-reality show that featured Winkler alongside William Shatner, George Foreman, and Terry Bradshaw. 

This diverse array of roles and projects underscores Winkler’s lasting impact on the entertainment industry as both an actor and a producer.

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Henry Winkler Movies

henry winkler movies list
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  • The Lords of Flatbush (1974)
  • Heroes (1977)
  • The One and Only (1978)t
  • An American Christmas Carol (1979)
  • Night Shift (1982)
  • The Man Who Loved Women (1983)
  • Romantic Comedy (1983)
  • First Time (1983)
  • Cop and a Half (1993)
  • Scream (1996)
  • The Waterboy (1998)
  • P.U.N.K.S. (1999)
  • Down to You (2000)
  • Little Nicky (2000)
  • Holes (2003)
  • I Could Never Be Your Woman (2007)
  • You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008)
  • Group Sex (2010)
  • Heroes for Sale (2011) – Short (Producer)
  • Here Comes the Boom (2012)
  • Sandy Wexler (2017)
  • The French Dispatch (2021)
  • Family Squares (2022)
  • Black Adam (2022)
  • Scream VI (2023)
  • Sly (2023)

Henry Winkler’s Wife and Children

In May 1978, Henry Winkler married Stacey Weitzman (née Furstman), marking the beginning of a long and supportive partnership. 

Stacey, who had previously been married to entertainment lawyer Howard Weitzman, brought a son, Jed Weitzman, into the marriage, making Henry a stepfather. 

The couple’s blended family soon grew with the birth of their two children: Zoe Emily in 1980 and Max Daniel in 1983.

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Zoe Emily Winkler has pursued a career in education and philanthropy, reflecting the values instilled by her parents. 

Max Daniel Winkler has followed in his father’s footsteps, entering the entertainment industry as a writer and director. 

Despite their demanding careers, Henry and Stacey have always prioritized their family, maintaining a close-knit and supportive household.

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Stacey’s previous marriage to Howard Weitzman, a prominent figure in the entertainment industry, added another layer of complexity to their family dynamics. 

However, Henry embraced his role as a stepfather to Jed, further showcasing his commitment to family.

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Over the years, Henry and Stacey have faced various challenges together, including Stacey’s battle with cancer, which she successfully overcame with Henry’s unwavering support. 

Their enduring relationship is a testament to their mutual respect and deep bond, highlighting the importance of family and resilience in their lives.

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Henry Winkler Now

henry winkler age
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Henry Winkler, at 78 years old, continues to be a prominent figure in the entertainment industry. 

Renowned for his iconic role as Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli on the beloved television series “Happy Days,” Winkler has carved out a distinguished career as an actor, comedian, author, producer, and director. 

His portrayal of Fonzie made him a household name and cemented his place in television history, earning him widespread recognition and numerous awards.

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In addition to his television success, Winkler has also excelled as a character actor in both stage and screen roles, showcasing his versatility and depth as a performer. 

His recent involvement in the 2023 movie “Sly” further demonstrates his enduring appeal and ability to captivate audiences. 

This role adds to his extensive filmography, which spans several decades and includes a variety of genres and characters, highlighting his adaptability and talent.

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Beyond acting, Winkler has made significant contributions behind the camera as a director and producer. 

His work in these capacities has been instrumental in the success of various television shows and films, further solidifying his reputation in the industry. 

Additionally, Winkler has authored several books, including children’s literature, which have been well-received and reflect his multifaceted creative abilities.

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With a net worth of $40 million, Winkler’s financial success is a testament to his hard work and enduring popularity. 

His achievements in multiple areas of the entertainment industry have not only brought him personal success but have also left a lasting impact on audiences and aspiring actors alike. 

Henry Winkler’s legacy as a versatile and beloved figure in entertainment continues to grow, underscoring his remarkable career and contributions to the arts.

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