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Henry Franklin Winkler was born on October 30, 1945 in Manhattan, New York City, New York. His parents, Ilse Anna Marie Winkler (Hadra) and Harry Irving Winkler, emigrated from Berlin, Germany to the United States in 1939. Henry and his sister, Beatrice, grew up in a Conservative Judaism household and attended the Congregation Habonim. During his school years, Henry was very anxious and had low self-esteem because of his undiagnosed dyslexia. Many students during this time period went undiagnosed unfortunately. Henry’s low grades caused some challenges between Henry and his parents. However, he found something he was good at and enjoyed immensely… acting.
Henry’s first role was in eighth grade as Billy Budd in the play Billy Budd. Ever since then, he found happiness whilst performing onstage which led him to study drama at Emerson College and earn a Bachelor’s degree in theatre and psychology. While at Emerson College, Henry performed in many plays like the Fantasticks as The Indian and Peer Gynt as Peer Gynt. He also was a member of the Alpha Pi Theta fraternity and voted Sweetheart of Kappa Gamma Chi. After graduating from Emerson College in 1967, Henry received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Yale School of Drama in 1970 and later, in 1978, obtained an honorary PhD in Hebrew Literature from Emerson College.
In 1971, Henry moved to New York where he did numerous commercials and snagged his first major film role as Butchey Weinstein alongside Sylvester Stallone in Lords of Flatbush (1974). His next major role was in America’s most beloved TV show Happy Days. Henry played the ultra cool greaser Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli who was rarely featured in the first few episodes because ABC thought viewers would not appreciate a “hoodlum” character. Fortunately, the viewers loved Fonzie so he became a more featured character. Fonzie was an icon in the 70s who oozed coolness with his motorcycle and leather jacket - which executives only let him wear in scenes with his motorcycle. Unfortunately, like all good things, Happy Days came to an end in 1984.
After Happy Days, Henry decided to pursue directing and producing. He directed a variety of shows like Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Cop and ½, and Memories of Me. He produced Tim Conway’s Funny America, MacGyver, Sightings, Monty, Dead Man’s Gun, So Weird, and the Happy Days: 30th Anniversary Reunion. In 2003, Henry worked with Lin Oliver to co-write the Hank Zipzer book series about a 4th grade dyslexic boy. The main character was based off of Henry’s own experiences with undiagnosed dyslexia.
Henry started appearing in tv shows and movies again in the 1990s. Some of his well-known TV roles include Sy Mittleman in Children’s Hospital (2010-2015), Dr. Saperstein in Parks and Recreation (2013-2015), Eddie Lawson in Royal Pains (2010-2014), and Barry Zuckerkorn in Arrested Development (2003-2013). He also appeared in movie comedies such as Coach Klein in The Waterboy (1998), Ted Newman in Click (2006), and most recently, Marty Streb in Here Comes the Boom (2012).
Henry currently lives with his wife, Stacey, and has three children. Henry and Stacey do wonderful work with children’s charities in addition to other philanthropic organizations. When he isn’t working, Henry loves to relax and unwind fly fishing in Montana.