‘Happy Days’ Henry Winkler on Ron Howard’s Emotional Departure: ‘When I Said Goodbye to Richie, I Said Goodbye to Ron’

View from 'Happy Days'
View from ‘Happy Days’ | Fotos International / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

During an ABC hit comedy Happy days’ Running 11-season, star Ron Howard’s disappointment grew with the show growing in line with his desire to direct films, to the point where the future director made the decision to leave in the the seventh season.

His exit, according to co-star Henry Winkler, was heartening for the team, but especially for actor Fonzie.

Howard was unhappy about ‘Happy Days’

The team of 'Happy Days'
The team of ‘Happy Days’ Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Walt Disney Photo Archives / Television via Getty Images

The previous one Andy Griffith Exhibition alum was pleased with it Happy days until Fonzie ‘s character appeared in the middle of the series about two seasons after the show went down.

Apparently overnight, Henry Winkler ‘s image as Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli became almost larger than the show itself. Fonzie appeared on lunchboxes, t-shirts, and posters everywhere.

Howard had joined the series with the understanding that it was written around his character Richie Cunningham. However, Fonzie, his leather jacket, and his “Hey!” Trademark were very popular with fans.

The show’s representatives, of course, wanted to change the name of the show to Happy Fonzie days. Howard informed the high standards of the show that he was not on board with the name change and that he would rather return to film school than continue the show that way.

Eventually, the name of the show remained as it was and Howard stayed.

He finally decided to leave Richie Cunningham

Happy days Ron Howard
Ron Howard | Walt Disney Television through Getty Images Photo Archives

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“I really wanted a passion to direct TV movies for ABC,” Howard told the American Television Archive in 2006 about the growing desire to make films.

“I had directed some TV movies for NBC at the time and I had a really good relationship there,” he said. “My dream of becoming a filmmaker was coming true. I was very ambitious about that. “

Howard was very particular about what he wanted from ABC to keep him on the show. For him, acting gave him more backing.

“I wanted a couple of things: let me direct a TV movie or two, and I also wanted a network pre-purchase,” he explained. “At the time, before cable, one way to fund independent films was if you could sell an idea directly to the network. They would promise and were involved in providing that pre-sale. ABC was unwilling to do any of that. I really wanted those promises if they wanted me to continue with the show. ”

Eventually, Howard left Happy days and began directing television films for NBC.

The farewell was emotional for Henry Winkler

Henry Winkler and Ron Howard on 'Happy Days

Henry Winkler and Ron Howard on ‘Happy Days’ Walt Disney Television / Getty Images

As well as the problems with the growing Fonzie star Happy days in his case for Howard, his relationship with co-star Winkler was unaffected. The two actors saw themselves as brothers and when Howard left the series, it was a moving moment for actor Fonzie, as he told the American Television Archive.

Howard returned to Happy days after leaving in the seventh season. He was a successful director of the box office Night shift at that time and in Season 11 they returned for the two-part sections, “Welcome Home, Richie.”

“One of the best and best moments on the show is when Richie says goodbye forever,” Winkler recalled. “It was part. And when I said goodbye to Richie, he was back now after years of not being on display, and he was directing.

“When I said goodbye to Richie, I said goodbye to Ron. That feeling was deep. ”

Although blessings were said on the show, in real life the two stayed very close. Winkler is, of course, the father of Howard’s daughter, actor Bryce Dallas Howard.

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