"The Fonz" to UNCP
teen idol of millions has a flaw.
Henry Winkler, known
in TV land as "the Fonz" for 11 years on the hit show "Happy
Days," revealed that he has dyslexia.
The actor, director
and producer spoke to a very enthusiastic crowd of 800 October 12 at
the Givens Performing Arts Center as part of UNC
Pembroke's Distinguished Speaker Series.
did not prove fatal, as he went on to Yale University and to become
one of America's most recognizable actors. The jacket he wore in "Happy
Days" is in the Smithsonian museum.
"I am standing
here tonight being mostly who I want to be," he said, encouraging
others to make their dreams become real. "If you will it, it is
not a dream."
Winkler, 57, delivered
an inspirational message that was mixed with his trademark deadpan humor.
He also gave an inside look at Hollywood and his career.
The son of successful
immigrant parents, Winkler was labeled "lazy, stupid and an underachiever"
as a child. He did not realize until his stepson was diagnosed with
dyslexia, that he suffered from the same learning disability, he said.
"On the SAT,
I ranked in the bottom three percentile, but I am finally not ashamed
of that," Winkler said. "I wasn't stupid, I wasn't lazy, I
was dyslexic, only no one knew what that was when I was growing up."
habit of negative feelings about yourself is so pervasive and tormenting,"
Winker said. "If you let it take over you, you stop walking toward
"I was the
king of negativity," he continued. "Don't put a period at
the end of a negative thought. It can grow into a paragraph or a thesis
Despite the handicap
and his relatively small stature, Winkler succeeded at Yale and reached
his goal of becoming a successful actor. His breakthrough came in "The
Lords of Flatbush," starring opposite a young Sylvester Stallone.
"I did the
show ("Happy Days") for 11 years and had a great time,"
Winkler said. "One day I said, 'Hey Ritchie, you can get a library
card, and they're free.'"
Library cards issued
after that one liner went up 500 percent in the U.S., Winkler said.
you put out is the energy you get back," he said. "It's just
as easy to be positive as it is to be negative."
To a group of middle
school youngsters in the crowd, he advised, "There are no shortcuts.
You can't do things half-baked. Put your time in now."
a question about a tattoo of Roy Orbison that surfaced in the recent
movie, "The Waterboy," Winkler laughed and said, "If
you thought my butt was fabulous in the movie, then yes I do."
Winkler gave his
trademark Fonzie thumbs up during a question and answer period following
his talk and thrilled the audience with a "whooooa" and a
The actor said he
would do a reunion show of "Happy Days" if Ron Howard agrees.
He is currently producing the game show "Hollywood Squares,"
writing a series of children's books and launching a new "MacGyver"
Following the show,
the actor posed for photographs and did an interview with the university's
Speaker Series continues with James Earl Jones on February 18, actress,
singer and dancer Rita Moreno on March 11 and Oklahoma basketball coach
Kelvin Sampson on April 28.
to University Newswire