could pay on time, you’d be the most talented person I ever met,” he laughs. “I don’t know that he cared about the craft at all. But in the second season he seems to have had an epiphany, like cellophane comes off his brain, and he now wants these children to get something out of the classes.”
Since his rollercoaster career trajectory has taught him many lessons.
“When The Fonz was done in 1984 (after 10 years), I never had a plan B. So, for about eight or nine years I couldn’t get hired because I was seen as The Fonz. In fact, for years I was still getting 55,000 [fan] letters a week.”
He turned his talents to working behind the camera as director and producer on TV shows including new Wes Anderson fi lm
“You know I can’t tell you anything about it,” he shrugs, before fumbling around in his pocket for his phone.
“Look,” he offers the mobile, by way of distraction. “This is the greatest thing. My heart flew out of my body when I saw this photo of my grandson dressed up as Fonzie.”
Trying valiantly to swallow his emotion, clearly welling up at the sight, he adds, “Not only does he have great taste, but he loves his grandfather!”
Besides his obvious pride in his family, Winkler says his crowning achievement in life was being awarded an OBE by the Queen for his services to children with dyslexia and special educational needs.
Married for 41 years to Stacy Weitzman, the father of two has co-written 34 children’s novels with his wife.
“They are in seven or nine languages and they were just converted into braille. They’re about me as a little boy, who struggled with everything. His glass is half full, but he just spills it everywhere.” He pauses: “You see, I was very insecure growing up because I had dyslexia. I had a learning challenge, so I wasn’t good in math, I wasn’t good in reading. I can’t spell, even today, although I was great at lunch,” he chuckles.
“If you have a learning challenge, there is an emotional component where you have no self-image. I believed that I was really as stupid as everyone told me I was.”
An international treasure, Winkler remains enamoured with
for making him a star; but grateful to for the chance to show the world what he’s really got.
“I had a vision of who I wanted to be an as actor, but I just couldn’t get there. As an actor
I felt stunted. But now, through at age 73, I’m able to taste some of what
I’d envisioned at 27,” he says.
“Now I have lived my dream and I’ve lived it bigger than I ever imagined.”