It was on this day, October 30, 1945, American actor, director, producer and author. Henry Francis Winkler was born. Best known for his role as Fonzie on the 1970s American sitcom Happy Days. “The Fonz”, a leather-clad greaser and auto mechanic, started out as a minor character at the show’s beginning, but had achieved top billing by the time the show ended.
As ABC initially feared he would be perceived as a hoodlum The Fonze was seldom seen during the first few episodes. However, the character so popular with viewers, the show’s producers decided to give Fonzie a more prominent role in the series. The show’s ratings began to soar, and Fonzie became a 1970s icon and the epitome of cool. His motorcycle, leather jacket, thumbs-up gesture, and uttering of the phrase “Aayyyy!” became television trademarks. The character became so popular that ABC considered renaming the series “Fonzie’s Happy Days” but eventually decided against it.
Unlike many other stars of the 1970s who rose to fame in a short period of time and developed “big heads,” Henry managed to stay well grounded and avoided falling into this trap. In the mid-1980s, with his “Happy Days” (1974) now behind him, Henry decided to change his focus toward producing and directing. He produced and directed several television shows and movies, most notably “MacGyver” (1985) and “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” (1996).
In addition to his movie and film credits, Henry is a well accomplished author. Between 2003 and 2007, he co-authored 12 children’s novels with Lin Oliver. The series is called “Hank Zipzer, the World’s Greatest Underachiever.”
Off-screen, Henry has been married since 1978 to Stacey Winkler (nee Weitzman) with whom he has three children. In 1990, they co-founded the Children’s Action Network (CAN), which provides free immunization to over 200,000 children. He is also involved with the Annual Cerebral Palsy Telethon, the Epilepsy Foundation of America, the annual Toys for Tots campaign, the National Committee for Arts for the Handicapped, and the Special Olympics.
1896 – Ruth Gordon (Jones) (Academy Award-winning actress: Rosemary’s Baby ; Every Which Way But Loose, Harold and Maude; screenplay writer [w/Garson Kanin]: Adam’s Rib; Emmy Award-winning actress: Taxi: Sugar Mama [Jan 16, 1979]; died Aug 28, 1985)
1906 – Sue Carol (Evelyn Lederer) (actress: The Lone Star Ranger, Walking Back, Captain Swagger; talent agent: discovered Alan Ladd [who became her fourth husband in 1942]; died Feb 4, 1982)
1911 – Ruth Hussey (O’ Rourke) (actress: Stars and Stripes Forever, Northwest Passage, The Philadelphia Story, Madame X, Another Thin Man; died Apr 19, 2005)
1930 – N’stor Almendros (cinematographer: New York Stories, Places in the Heart, Sophie’s Choice, The Blue Lagoon, Kramer vs. Kramer, Love on the Run, The Green Room, Madame Rosa, Cockfighter, Six in Paris; died Mar 4, 1992)
1931 – Richard Gautier (actor: Here We Go Again, Bye Bye Birdie, When Things Were Rotten, Mr. Terrific; panelist: Liar’s Club, Here We Go Again, Get Smart)
1932 – Louis Malle (director: Pretty Baby, Atlantic City, Aurevoir Les Enfants, Goodbye Children, Crackers, The Fire Within; died Nov 23, 1995)
1937 – Claude Lelouch (Academy Award-winning director: A Man and a Woman ; Bolero, Another Man, Another Chance)
1940 – Ed Lauter (actor: Rattled, Mulholland Falls, Trial by Jury, Extreme Justice, Revenge of the Nerds 2: Nerds in Paradise, Youngblood, Death Wish, Lassiter, In the Custody of Strangers, Death Hunt, King Kong, Fat Man and Little Boy, The Longest Yard, Stephen King’s Golden Years, B.J. and the Bear)
1943 – Joanna Shimkus (actress: The Virgin and the Gypsy, Les Aventuriers, Six in Paris)
1945 – Henry Winkler (actor: Happy Days, An American Christmas Carol, The Lords of Flatbush; TV coproducer: MacGyver; director: Cop and a Half, Memories of Me, A Smokey Mountain Christmas)
1951 – Harry Hamlin (actor: L.A. Law, Studs Lonigan, Laguna Heat, Clash of the Titans, Dinner at Eight, Murder So Sweet, Under Investigation, Save Me)
1953 – Charles Martin Smith (actor: The Road Home, Speechless, And the Band Played On, The Untouchables, Starman, Herbie Goes Bananas, The Buddy Holly Story, American Graffiti, Fuzz, Culpepper Cattle Co.; actor, director: Fifty/Fifty; director: Boris and Natasha: The Movie, Trick or Treat)