Arthur Fonzarelli – also known as The Fonz or Fonzie – was set to play a small supporting role on ABC. Happy days, which ran from 1974 to 1984. As a friend of the not-so-rich Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard), Fonzie was just about to offer some humorous relief.
But audiences fell in love with Henry Winkler’s effortless cool character so much that the Fonz became a mainstay of the show. In fact, Winkler has appeared on all 255 episodes of the family sitcom.
In her 2018 commemoration, My days: happy and otherwise, Marion Ross – played by Richie ‘s mother, Marion Cunningham, on all 11 seasons Happy days – looks back at her relationship with Winkler and how his memorable character developed. There was one rather strange reason why the Fonz was rarely seen without his motorcycle in the first season and part of the second.
Garry Marshall was not Winkler in Fonzie ‘s role
In her memoir, Ross reminded fans that the Fonzie character was initially intended to be “petty” in the show’s lighter scheme. And his leather jacket was ubiquitous, she wrote, “unstable” at first.
Winkler was instrumental in changing the role of The Fonz in many ways. According to Ross, Happy days creator Garry Marshall had a very different image of the side character of his mind before Winkler walked through the door.
“He was thought to be a sort of blond matinee idol from the 1950s,” Ross wrote of Marshall’s view of The Fonz.
But after Winkler made more of a name for himself with his career there Lords of Flatbush Along with Perry King and Sylvester Stallone, he received a laboratory. It was then that he began to establish Fonzie as a slow greaser who was very good with the ladies.
Winkler must have left a good impression in that first meeting. His lab, Ross, made Marshall change his mind “about who and what Fonzie would be.”
Fonzie was allowed to wear a leather jacket after the second season
Marshall agreed to the motorcycle compromise. According to Ross, he made sure Winkler was “never in sight without his motorcycle” for most of the first and second seasons.
Ross explained that this is why so many Fonzie scenes were based on a motorcycle, with Winkler’s character even regularly driving his bike directly into Arnold. (Fun fact: Winkler himself could not drive a motorcycle at all.)
Eventually, Winkler established his character as a cool, defensive and defensive hero rather than a full-fledged bad boy. The producers released the hook in the second half of the second season of Happy days.
Like “eyy,” slick-back hair, and almost supernatural control of the juke box, a leather jacket was now just part of Fonzie – and she stayed that way.