Meet and Greet: Henry Winkler #TheFonz

I do not think I can adequately put into words how Henry Winkler is woven into the very fabric of my childhood.  He was my Tuesday night.  See, every Tuesday night we had this lineup:

Every Tuesday.  My Parents and I never missed it.  Even when The Fonz jumped the shark (both figuratively and literally), we continued to watch.

That episode, when Fonz jumped the shark, brought about the phrase “Jumping The Shark” when referencing the episode when fans know their favorite show has outlived its entertainment value.  For more on that, here is the wiki with greater detail: Jump The Shark.

In 2015 I met Henry Winkler at the Cincy Comic Expo. I wrote a blog about it: Get Her To The Geek.  I paid the extra money to have my photo taken with him but was unable to sit in on his panel.  My Son also paid the extra money because he was a fan of Henry’s time on Arrested Development. Alex shot out a line from the show and Henry responded with his line. And for the next few minutes they ran the lines back and forth, Alex smiling from ear to ear.  I love those kinds of interactions with people we meet at conventions.  Those connections make it worth the few extra bucks to get the photo.

When I heard he would be at the WV Book Festival on October 28, 2017, I did not hesitate – I marked it on my calendar and made the plans to be there. I am so very glad that I took the time to go.

In all the hustle bustle of my daily life, I neglected to do a quick search of Henry to see what he was promoting.  Had to be book driven, due to the venue.  I would just grab a copy when I got there, I was sure I would love it.  I remembered he was writing kids’ books during the Cincy Comic Expo, I would till love a copy of that.  I was lucky the month before to find a Henry Winkler Hollywood Trading Card from 1991 at a convention a few weeks earlier and I picked it up knowing I would be at this panel.  When I made my way to the table to look at his books, I realized that the theme of dyslexia must be personal for him, maybe his child?  I never realized it was him.  All those roles he played and with a reading disorder.  My respect for him increased.

My Notes From The Panel:

  • He wanted to act from the time he was seven.
  • Read first novel at the age of 31.  According to academics, he is in the bottom 3 percentile for his education.  Dyslexia.
  • “I was great at ‘lunch’.”
  • In the 11th grade he performed in a musical and his world changed.
  • “You have greatness inside of you. It’s your job to figure it out. Dig it out from inside of you and give it to the world.”
  • “You are not defined by your grades or your schooling.”
  • A child’s success in this world is 80% nature and 20% nurture.
  • You must see the chid for who they are and not teach them just what we think they should know.
  • He has written 34 kids’ novels.
  • His birthday is Oct 30th.
  • ABC would only let him wear leather if there was a bike that could be seen.  That is why he always had the bike with him, even had to push it into Arnold’s.
  • He likes chocolate bunt cake with no icing.
  • His fave book is The Alienist.

He was utterly amazing with the children who lined up to ask him questions.  He was kind and caring and connected with them just like he connected with me and my family some years before.  To know that he had a somewhat rough childhood with harsh parents and a reading disability and yet made it as far as he has is nothing less than inspirational.  I am glad he is woven into the fabric of my childhood.

I got him to sign a book for Nugget and I had him sign the Henry Winkler Hollywood collector’s card.  He shook my hand and I could tell he was a bit exhausted even though he had a line behind me that seemed to go on forever.  Thanks Fonz, I appreciate it!

Some pictures from the panel:

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