Henry Winkler Opens Up: Ghosted by Paul McCartney and Navigating the 'Baloney' of John Travolta's 'Grease' Feud

Henry Winkler Opens Up: Ghosted by Paul McCartney and Navigating the 'Baloney' of John Travolta's 'Grease' Feud

"Henry Winkler's Unfiltered Joy: From 'Happy Days' to 'Barry' and Beyond"

In the realm of Hollywood, Henry Winkler shatters the image of being "the nicest guy" – a label he vehemently rejects. At 78, the iconic star of "Happy Days" and HBO's "Barry" radiates a contagious joy and gratitude for life, making it clear that he's not just nice; he's grateful and jubilant to be on this planet.

In a candid conversation at his Los Angeles home, Winkler, ever the coolest guy, welcomed USA TODAY, eager to share anecdotes from his memoir, "Being Henry: The Fonz…And Beyond," recently released by Celadon Books. The memoir delves into Winkler's Hollywood journey, a surreal adventure that kicked off with the life-altering role of The Fonz on "Happy Days" landing just a month after the blissfully naive 28-year-old actor arrived in Los Angeles.

Winkler, an Emmy-winner for his role in "Barry," reflects on the unexpected twists of his career, still marveling at the peak experiences that span decades. From the instant success of "Happy Days" in 1974, where he became the face on every '70s kid's lunchbox, to navigating the challenges of fame during his first movie theater date with his now-wife Stacey, Winkler's memoir captures the highs and lows of a Hollywood career.

One memorable episode detailed in "Being Henry" takes us back to a fan event in Dallas, where Winkler, determined not to be typecast, broke his silence as The Fonz to disperse a frenzied crowd. With a shout in Fonz voice, he orchestrated a path through the fans, making a memorable exit alongside co-stars like Ron Howard.

The memoir also serves as a treasure trove of star-studded encounters, with Winkler's infectious enthusiasm evident in every page. From praising a young Robert De Niro on "The Godfather Part II" set to De Niro recalling the compliment decades later, Winkler's journey is filled with giddy Hollywood moments.

In "Being Henry," Henry Winkler's unfiltered joy, gratitude, and love for his craft illuminate a Hollywood story that goes beyond the characters he portrayed, showcasing the genuine and jubilant spirit of an actor who has truly embraced every moment of his remarkable career.

"Henry Winkler's Star-Studded Tales: Awkward Encounters, Missed Calls from McCartney, and 'Barry' Triumphs"

Even Hollywood legends like Henry Winkler have their share of less-than-ideal star encounters. While some unfold with a touch of embarrassment, like a failed attempt to reintroduce himself to Mick Jagger during an amorous dinner date, others reach the level of perfectly excruciating. Take, for instance, Winkler's encounter with Paul McCartney on a New York City street. McCartney, in a friendly gesture, passed on his phone number, inviting Winkler to "hang out." Excitement turned to disappointment as Winkler left "seven or maybe 17" unreturned messages, leading him to humorously speculate, "He must have thought 'The Fonz. Very cool. But a stalker. And crazy.'"

Winkler's journey through Hollywood also includes pivotal career decisions, such as turning down the role of Danny Zuko in "Grease" to avoid being typecast as Fonzie. The part went to John Travolta, who, according to Winkler, amassed enough wealth to "literally buy a 747." Despite rumors of tension, Winkler dismisses reports of strain with Travolta as "baloney," emphasizing his admiration for Travolta's performance in "Grease" and revealing a recent note from the actor expressing love for Winkler's work in "Barry." According to Winkler, Travolta is a "wonderful human being."

In his behind-the-scenes memoir moments, Winkler shares the humor and challenges of auditioning for "Barry," where he aimed for nonchalance while desperately vying for the role of bombastic drama teacher Gene Cousineau. The stress reached its peak when he got lost on the way to a crucial audition, yet Winkler triumphed, securing the career-resurgent part that earned him an Emmy.

Amidst the tales of missed calls from music legends and navigating Hollywood dynamics, Winkler's resilience and humor shine through. His memoir, "Being Henry: The Fonz…And Beyond," not only delves into the star-studded episodes of his life but also reflects the authenticity and wit that have made Henry Winkler a beloved figure in the entertainment world.

"Henry Winkler's Emmy Triumph: From Starblind Moments to Zoom Calls"

In a heartwarming twist of fate, 2018 marked a pinnacle in Henry Winkler's illustrious career as he joyously embraced Bill Hader at the Emmy Awards, clinching his first win for best supporting actor after multiple nominations spanning his remarkable journey. The Emmy stage, however, presented its own set of unexpected challenges, as Winkler found himself starblind in the presence of "The Crown" stars Matt Smith and Claire Foy, who were serving as presenters.

Recounting the amusing encounter, Winkler shares how, having just finished watching the second season of "The Crown" with his wife, he began praising Smith and Foy for their stellar performances on the show. The actors, understandably perplexed, looked at him as if he had lost his bearings. In the whirlwind of the moment, Winkler momentarily forgot the purpose of his Emmy stage presence, leaving him with a mere 37 seconds to deliver his acceptance speech.

Despite the unexpected detour, Winkler managed to articulate beautiful words of gratitude. Reflecting on the unforgettable night, he shares, "What an amazing night." Typically displaying his Emmy on the living room table for all to see, Winkler made a unique choice by relocating it to his office. The reason? It became a cherished prop for his Zoom calls, a testament to the adaptability of an actor who continues to find joy and humor in the most unexpected moments of his career.

In this delightful chapter of Winkler's journey, the Emmy triumph not only stands as a long-awaited recognition of his talent but also adds another layer to the endearing charisma that has made Henry Winkler a beloved figure in the entertainment industry.

In conclusion, Henry Winkler's journey in the entertainment industry is a tapestry woven with moments of triumph, humility, and unexpected hilarity. From his joyous Emmy win in 2018, marking a pinnacle in his career, to the starblind encounter with "The Crown" actors on the Emmy stage, Winkler's narrative is a testament to the unpredictability and charm that define his Hollywood story.

The mishap with Matt Smith and Claire Foy serves as a lighthearted reminder of the genuine and unscripted nature of Winkler's interactions, a quality that endears him to fans and peers alike. His ability to seamlessly transition from heartfelt acceptance speeches to adapting his Emmy as a prop for Zoom calls showcases a delightful blend of gratitude, humor, and the ever-present joy he finds in his craft.

As Winkler continues to share his anecdotes in his memoir, "Being Henry: The Fonz…And Beyond," one can't help but appreciate the authenticity that permeates his storytelling. Whether reliving the highs of Emmy triumphs or navigating the complexities of Hollywood encounters, Winkler's enduring spirit and love for his craft shine through, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of those who have followed his remarkable journey.

In the grand tapestry of Hollywood tales, Henry Winkler stands as a cherished thread, weaving a narrative that resonates with the universal themes of resilience, passion, and the sheer joy of embracing the unexpected in a career that has spanned decades.


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