The Original Fonz

….remember the TV show Happy Days?

Back in the 70s and 80s one of my favourite TV sitcoms was Happy Days with the Cunningham family. The show revolved around the teenage son, Richie (Ron Howard) and his friends. He had a father named Howard and his stay at home mom was Marion and he had a younger sister named Joanie. Richie’s friends often called Marion Cunningham ‘Mrs. C.’ when they greeted her. When I started teaching in 1976 my students often called me Mrs. C..

One of Richie’s best friends, especially later in the series was Arthur Fonzarelli,  better known as the Fonz or Fonzie. The part was played by Henry Winkler. I mention this because my father’s name is Heinz Winkler but when he first emigrated to Canada in 1954 his colleagues at work couldn’t pronounce his first name so they called him Henry instead. Consequently it wasn’t unusual for us to get phone calls asking for Henry Winkler.

When the show Happy Days became popular in the mid 70s my sisters and I were still living at home ( for me it was mostly in the summers when I wasn’t at university). Back then the telephone book was still widely used to find phone numbers and my father was listed as H. Winkler. Can you see where this story is going?

My father was close to 50 when the show aired for the first time and I don’t remember him being a big fan. My sisters, however, were very familiar with it and they loved to tease our father about his connection to the Fonz (in name only). They often picked up phone calls that were clearly from young girls looking to speak to the Henry Winkler from the TV show. They would play along and call my dad to the phone and tell him that someone wanted to talk to him. There were always lots of giggles at our end when this would happen.

The Fonz and my Dad did, however, have some similarities. Fonzie considered himself a lady’s man and in his younger days so did my father. Fonzie rode a motorcycle and back in Germany my father did as well. Last weekend I was looking through one of the old family photo albums and I came across this photo taken in 1952. The Original Fonz….whose cooler?



14 thoughts on “The Original Fonz

  1. Hihih, ohh I love seeing this today! This show didn’t air on Yugoslav television so I had never heard of it before moving to Italy. Here people sometimes hum the song to me. Why? Because the younger daughter of my amore gave a certain name to our bestia. Care to guess? Yep, she named him Fonzie! 😀 Obviously the show was HUGE in Italy and Fonzie was loved by everybody. It’s been great telling his name to strangers and getting smiles in return, sometimes with the tune which I still haven’t learnt. This a great story and I can just hear the giggles when your father was summoned to the phone. 🙂 Here’s to all Fonzies and Mr. Winklers in this world!

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      • We fly into Venice, stay for 2 nights, take a train to Florence (8 nights) then to Assisi (3 nights), where the wedding is being held and finally onto Rome for the last 3 days. From Florence we hope to take some day trips to other locations. Any suggestions for some ‘must see’ places?


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