Henry Winkler: A Guilty Pleasure for Multiple
Actor, role model and author with a tremendous
By Martha Brockenbrough Special to MSN TV
If you're a TV viewer of a certain age, there's a good chance you either
wanted to be the Fonz or have him summon you with a snap of his super-sexy
fingertips. Whether astride his thundering motorcycle or resuscitating broken
electronics with his magic fist, Henry Winkler's leather-jacketed
Fonzie was the very definition of cool, even if he was wasting himself on Pinky
The Yale-trained Winkler created the role out of nothing. The Fonz was
originally a secondary character, but people loved him so much he became the
heart of the show. Then came that infamous 1977 episode, "Hollywood, Part
Three," in which he jumped over a shark while waterskiing in his trademark
jacket. The plot development, a ratings stunt, was so cheesy that it's come to
stand for that heartbreaking moment in time when a show does something
irredeemably dumb. Eventually, a nation got over its collective crush on the
Fonz, and he hung up his leather jacket for good (in the Smithsonian, but
Fonzie fans, it's time to rekindle that old flame.
Perhaps the sparks flew for you again when you saw him play the incompetent,
perverted Barry Zuckerkorn on "Arrested Development."
(How much did you love it when Zuckerkorn jumped over a shark? Aaaaay!)
And maybe you started to smolder when you heard that the show is indeed going
to become a movie.
And now, here's a reason why you should let your Fonzie-fandom turn back into
a full-fledged conflagration: The Queen of England just awarded him an Order of
the British Empire for "services to children with special educational needs and
dyslexia in the U.K."
Wait. What? The Fonz? Two steps away from being a British knight? For
services to children?
It's true. The cool guy we loved to love has made a career for himself
writing books for kids, books that help them get through a school system that
might otherwise destroy their hearts and souls.
Though he's probably best known for his long career as an actor, he's being
discovered by a new generation of kids for the best-selling Hank Zipzer
children's book series he co-wrote with his longtime friend Lin Oliver. In the
United States, more than 3 million copies of the 17-book series have sold.
The series is deeply influenced by Winkler's childhood. The son of German
immigrants who came to America a couple of years before World War II started,
Winkler was dyslexic, a learning disability that went undiscovered until he was
31 and his son was found to have the same problem.
As graduation day approaches, tension begins to build between Frankie and Axl when he ignores her requests for answers about the graduation party she's planning for his special day. "The Middle" airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.