Arthur Fonzarelli, better known as "'Fonzie'" or "'The Fonz'", was played by Henry Winkler for the full 11-year run of the show Happy Days. He is a greaser who is frequently seen on or near his beloved motorcycle, wearing a leather jacket and typifying the essence of cool, in contrast to his circle of friends.
Fonzie was originally a secondary character, but quickly became the breakout star of the series. By season 3, Henry Winkler was second only to Ron Howard in star billing. After Ron left the show, Winkler became the star.
Throughout the series, Fonzie is the personification of "cool" to everyone else, and though he maintains his tough reputation, he is also a loyal friend and in his heart longs for family, but this facet of his personality is something he allows only his closest friends to see.
Fonzie makes no secret of what he likes and dislikes, often showing his approval with his calling-card "thumbs up" gesture, usually in tandem with his signature expression, "Ay-y-y-y!" Over time, the gesture came to mean more than just a sign of approval; on a few occasions he used it to show his gratitude, his own way of saying "thanks" (one very poignant example of this was in Richie Almost Dies, during which he quietly gives his "thanks" to God for bringing Richie back).
At the beginning of the series, Fonzie is a high school dropout, prompting establishment characters in the show to see him as a bad influence. After an unsuccessful attempt to drop back in again, Fonzie later decided to attend night school and ultimately earned his high school diploma. Through it all, Fonzie worked as an auto mechanic. He later became an auto mechanic instructor at Jefferson High School and finally a full-fledged teacher.
Fonzie's checkered past earned him a great deal of respect from friend and foe alike. He has a very strong moral code, treating others with respect and sticking up for those who can't defend themselves, particularly Richie, Ralph, and Potsie whenever they were confronted by various bullies and troublemakers. Even opponents physically larger than Fonzie are shown to back down from him when he confronts them, and those who choose to go up against him never prevail.
Throughout the series, while Fonzie served as defender and protector of his friends, he often expected them to follow his example. Case in point, after Chachi accidentally burns down Arnold's, Fonzie disciplines him severely for his carelessness in tossing his apron onto the kitchen grill forgetting to shut off before leaving, even though everyone else, including Al, understands it was just an accident.
Despite his well-earned status, there were still some who chose to antagonize him, including Officer Kirk, an overzealous policeman who sometimes (though never successfully) tried to frame Fonzie or run him out of town.
Fonzie also had his whimsical traits as well, including a devotion to the Lone Ranger; in the season 9 episode Hi-Yo Fonzie, Away! the gang, for his birthday, arrange for Fonzie to meet the Masked Man in person (played by John Hart, who actually played the Lone Ranger in 1953). At the end of their brief meeting (during which Fonzie is nearly speechless), the Lone Ranger even gives Fonzie one of his silver bullets.
Friendship with Richie Edit
Fonzie is shown to have respect for people courageous enough to stand up to what's right no matter what the cost. When Richie first met Fonzie while he was a member of a gang called the Falcons, Fonzie initially resented him and threatened to beat him up, but when Richie refused to back down, Fonzie told him "you got guts".
Fonzie regards Richie's two closest friends, Ralph Malph and Potsie Weber, as nerds, largely because of their collective willingness to do virtually anything to fit in. Contrary to Ralph and Potsie, Richie doesn't readily compromise his own principles, and on occasion even stands up to Fonzie himself. Consequently, Fonzie grows to admire Richie and over time becomes fond of him, eventually calling him his best friend.
The Cunninghams Edit
Beginning in Season 3, despite Howard's reservations (though they needed the extra money), Fonzie moved into the attic apartment above the garage at Richie's house, and though things got off to a rocky start, all of the Cunninghams became like Fonzie's family.
- He became much closer to Joanie, affectionately calling her "Shortcake", and eventually became like another brother to her after Richie left.
- Marion, became Fonzie's surrogate mother, and is the only one permitted to call him by his real name, Arthur. She is also the only woman who can make Fonzie blush when she kisses him on the cheek.
- Though he still does not approve of his lifestyle, Howard gradually becomes closer to Fonzie and treats him with more and more respect as well.
The Women Edit
Another significant part of Fonzie's reputation was his enormous success with women. Very few women turned down his advances or made him nervous. While displaying something of a Casanova-like behavior, he always treated with utmost respect whomever he was with. His success with women made him a frequent source of advice for most of the other males in his circle of friends (Richie, Potsie, Ralph, and Chachi).
In Season 10, Fonzie began a long-term relationship with a single mother (Linda Purl), but it didn't last. During the series, Fonzie never married, although in Season 2 he almost did, but Howard found out that Fonzie's fiancee worked as a stripper and was keeping it a secret from him.
The Leather Jacket Edit
Another of Fonzie's trademarks was his black leather jacket, which he was almost always seen wearing.
During the earliest episodes of the series, ABC executives were reticent about Winkler wearing leather because they didn't want him looking too much like a hoodlum, so to circumvent their fears, creator/executive producer Garry Marshall decided to keep Fonzie close to his motorcycle for every scene so he could keep wearing the leather jacket as safety equipment; in scenes where it wasn't possible to have the bike nearby, Fonzie would wear an off-white cloth windbreaker. As the series progressed, ABC relented, and permitted Fonzie to wear the leather jacket everywhere.
(One of Fonzie's leather jackets is now on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.)
Fonzie's family Edit
Little is known about Fonzie's family. He mentions that when he was four years old his father had abandoned him, leaving him a strong box but no key. When Fonzie finally broke the box open (running over it with his tricycle) the only thing inside was the key.
Fonzie has a nephew named Raymond (or "Spike", as his friends call him) who appeared in Not With My Sister, You Don't, in which he went on a date with Joanie. He has a cousin named Chachi (played by Scott Baio) who dated and later married Joanie. In a later episode Fonzie's half brother, named Arthur (Artie), comes to see the Fonz to tell him their father died, and had left Fonzie a broken pocket watch. Near the end of the series, Fonzie adopted a young orphan boy named Danny Corrigan, Jr., completing his transformation from rebel to family man.
Business dealings Edit
In Season 7, after Chachi accidentally burned the original Arnold's to the ground, Fonzie reluctantly agreed to become part owner of the rebuilt Arnold's. Fonzie eventually sold his interest back to Al, who became partners with the drive-in restaurant's original owner, Arnold Takahashi (Pat Morita, Seasons 1-3, and 10 & 11) in Season 10 before selling his interest in it to Arnold in Season 11.
Fonzie, a highly skilled mechanic, wound up purchasing and becoming the owner of Bronko's Garage, the auto repair garage where he worked. He also became shop teacher in Jefferson High School season in Seasons 8-10 of the series and a Guidance Counselor and Dean of Boys of George S. Patton Vocational High School in the series' final season.
- "Sit on it."
- "Cool it!"
- "Let's see Tarzan do that."
- "Sorry girls, it was a slip of the fingers."
- "Why? Cause I'm the Fonz!"
- In casting the role of Fonzie, Garry Marshall originally wanted ex-Monkees drummer Micky Dolenz, who had just played the role of a biker in a 1972 episode of Adam-12, but the six-foot tall Dolenz was significantly taller than the rest of the cast, and Marshall decided that Fonzie needed to be on the same eye level as the others. A search for a shorter actor as an alternative resulted in 5-foot-6 Henry Winkler landing the role.
- In My Fair Fonzie, he reveals to Richie that he hates 'peanut butter and jelly'.
- Fonzie has a verbal tic around the word "wrong", sometimes he can say it, but other times, he just makes noises.
- He does not want anything bad to happen to his hair.
- He is also the only one who can hit the jukebox at Arnold's and make it work.