'Happy Days' star Henry Winkler looks back on 50-year career, reveals how Fonz's iconic catchphrase came to be

Actor Henry Winkler visits 'The IMDb Show' on May 31, 2018 in Studio City, California. This episode of 'The IMDb Show' airs on June 7, 2018. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb) Henry Winkler, US actor, wearing a brown leather jacket and white

Henry Winkler has been a household name ever since 1974 when he landed his breakout role as Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzarelli in "Happy Days."

Five decades later, Winkler is looking back on his career with a fondness that has earned him his spot as one of Hollywood's most beloved actors.

In a new interview with Access Hollywood inside his home, he kicked things off by picking up the Emmy Award he won for his role as acting teacher Gene Cousineau on the hit HBO series "Barry" off a coffee table.

"Here is my nighttime Emmy," he explained, referencing the fact that he waited over 40 years to receive the award despite a long history in television.


Actor Henry Winkler visits 'The IMDb Show' on May 31, 2018 in Studio City, California. This episode of 'The IMDb Show' airs on June 7, 2018. (Credit: Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)


Interviewer Kit Hoover asked him if he keeps the award there all the time, and he jokingly responded, "No, usually if I'm not wearing baby wipes around my neck I'm wearing the Emmy."

The "baby wipe" mention was a reference to his young grandchildren who frequent his home.

Next, Winkler took Hoover to his "script room," a room in his house where he keeps bookshelves full of scripts from projects he's worked on over the years.

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When he pointed out the shelves with the "Happy Days" scripts, she asked him if he could really turn on a jukebox just by hitting it or snapping at it, his signature move as "The Fonz."

"Yes, I can," he said, "but you can't tell anybody else."

He then clarified, "If there was a man named Fred in back of the set, and he plugs it in at the same time I hit it, it goes off."

He also has a photo in his script room from behind the scenes of "Happy Days" featuring the cast with John Lennon and his son Julian, who was nine years old at the time. He called this "one of the great moments" from the show.

Finally, the two sat down for a conversation about his career, which began with Winkler laughing incredulously, saying, "Fifty years … it is too big to think about."

"I am happy that I am living my dream. I'm happy that I am still here and doing it."

It turns out it didn't take him very long to make that dream come true 50 years ago. After he moved to Hollywood in 1973, it took him only five days to land a role on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," and two weeks after that he secured his spot on "Happy Days."

Offering up one last tidbit about the cherished sitcom, he revealed the origin of The Fonz's catchphrase.

"I did not create the ‘Hey,’ I think they gave that to me," he admitted, referring to the signature way The Fonz pronounced the greeting. "But I did add the ‘Whoa,' which I got from my favorite sport at the time, horseback riding."

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