You may not believe that until a few minutes ago I actually hadn’t ever watched an episode of Happy Days. It’s true. I don’t know if it ever aired in South Africa. According to a few websites, it did, but I don’t remember it. Maybe my parents thought it wasn’t a great idea for me to watch it as a five year old? But it doesn’t matter. I knew I’d like it. Because in the States Happy Days ran neck and neck at the top of the ratings with Three’s Company, forever. Three’s Company even mentions Happy Days in one of its episodes. And because Henry Winkler and John Ritter were the best of friends. I thought I’d better make sure I liked it though, before I blogged about it, so I went and watched some of it.
Guess what I’m going to be spending my time catching up with!!!
Henry Winkler stars as the rebellious leather clad, motor bike riding Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli, or Fonzie. In 1999 TV Guide ranked him number 4 on its 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time list, and he was one of only two characters to appear in all 255 episodes of Happy Days – it ran from January 1974 – September 1984 over 11 seasons.
It opens with the theme tune of Bill Haley’s Rock around the Clock!
Although filmed in the 70s and 80s, the show is a throwback to the 50s and later the 60s, and it’s the period setting and the music that help make it as special as it is. I can just imagine that that is one of the reasons it was as wildly popular as it was back then – it would have appealed to youngsters of the day as well as to their parents who would have remembered being young in the 50s.
At the start of the series, Fonzie is a high school dropout, prompting establishment characters in the show to see him as a rebel and bad influence. Fonzie is shown once attempting to go back to school with Richie, but he later decides it just isn’t for him and drops out again. However, a few seasons later, Fonzie is secretly attending night school and ultimately earns his high school diploma. Throughout it all, Fonzie worked as an auto mechanic. He later became an auto mechanic instructor at the school and finally a full-fledged teacher.
Fonzie has a very high moral code. He always treats others with respect and sticks up for those that can’t defend themselves. On the other hand, he often expects others to follow his example. After Chachi accidentally burns down Arnold’s, for example, Fonzie very angrily yells at him for what he’s done, even though other characters (including owner Al) understand it was just an accident.
Fonzie was consistently portrayed as being very successful with women. Very few women turned down his advances or made him nervous. While displaying somewhat womanizer behavior, Fonzie always treated whomever he happened to be dating with utmost respect. His success with women made him a frequent source of advice for Richie, Potsie, Ralph and Chachi. In Season 10, Fonzie maintained a long-term relationship with a single mother, but they would break up by the following year. Though he never married, he adopted a young orphan boy named Danny Corrigan Jr, in the final season, completing his transformation from rebel to family man.
Henry Winkler’s career has been long and varied. After Happy Days he went into producing and founded Winkler Rich productions, producing amongst others shows like MacGyver. He has won many Golden Globe and Emmy awards and is still active in the entertainment world today having appeared in both Mad and Parks and Recreation in 2013.