Actor and author Henry Winkler appears during a portrait session in New York on Feb 5 to promote his latest book in the "Here's Hank" series, "Everybody Is Somebody." Photo: Invision/AP
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Henry Winkler enjoying a run of very cool coincidences

8 Comments
By BROOKE LEFFERTS

Things are coming full circle for Henry Winkler in many ways.

The actor, best known for playing "The Fonz" on the 1970s hit sitcom "Happy Days," is also a prolific author of children's books and recently paid a visit to promote his latest book at his old elementary school in New York City.

"I thought this was amazing. The way the world comes together," he told the Associated Press.

His latest book is the 29th in a series, called "Here's Hank: Everybody is Somebody," about a kid named Hank who goes to Public School 87 in New York City, the same school the author attended. It's based on Winkler's experiences as a child who struggles to read and keep up at school.

Winkler never dreamed he'd be an author. He had trouble reading as a child and academics were difficult for him. It wasn't until he was an adult and his stepson was diagnosed with dyslexia that his own challenges had a name.

In an effort to help children like him, he got together with comedy writer Lin Oliver and wrote the first book in their best-selling series. The message of the books is that no matter how hard school is, it has nothing to do with intelligence. It struck a nerve with both kids and parents.

"Even at 73, I can tap into the pain of the 8-, 9-, 10-year-old in me that never achieved. I was told that I would never achieve. I failed at everything except for going home. I was really good when the bell rung," Winkler said.

The books are designed with easy-to-read font and simple stories. Winkler says they've been a "breakthrough" for some kids. "What a compliment. We've met kids who said 'How did you know me so well?' Or they would nudge their parent to go 'This is me. This is the way I feel,' so parents learn about their child and that child didn't feel alone," he said.

After nearly 50 years in the entertainment business, Winkler is having a moment. In addition to the book series, he just finished work on season two of the quirky HBO comedy, "Barry," for which he just won his first Emmy Award.

"It was really terrific. People say that they have their Emmy as a doorstop or in the bathroom. Mine is on the dining room table. You can't miss it. You know what? I'm having a chain made right as we speak so I can wear it as a necklace," he said with a laugh.

In another full circle moment, he recently wrapped a scene in "Barry" and realized he was on Stage 19 at the Paramount lot. "That is the very sound stage where for nine years we shot 'Happy Days,'" he said.

Winkler recently finished shooting in France on a new Wes Anderson film starring Timothee Chalamet. In yet another remarkable turn of events, when he met Chalamet, the young actor told him that not only did he also go to P.S. 87 but he once heard Winkler read a "Hank" book in that same school library when he was 8 years old.

"You know my mantra for the longest time has always been 'If you will it, it is not a dream,'" Winkler said, "and literally a few years ago I changed my mantra to 'I will try' because if you don't, you don't know what wonderfulness is inside you, what you can actually do."

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

8 Comments
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There are some people who are hard not to like. Just remembering him in Happy Days makes me happy.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Winkler's book is about dyslexia. His undetected dyslexia made him struggle in read-throughs on Happy Days. He would make mistakes all the time, then would make up jokes about it as an excuse. At least now kids know it's an issue of wiring in the brain.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

"Even at 73, I can tap into the pain of the 8-, 9-, 10-year-old in me that never achieved. I was told that I would never achieve. I failed at everything except for going home. I was really good when the bell rung," Winkler said.

Proved those naysayers wrong and then some, didn't you? Hard to believe The Fonz is 73 but he has come a long way.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Heyyyyy! Gotta love ‘The Fonz!’

5 ( +5 / -0 )

"To leave the world a little better....that is to have succeeded". - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Fonz brought smiles to many people's faces.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I’m dyslexic and can fully relate. Couldn’t, cant remember the simplest things. I’ve struggled for years reading simple thing; I read words that aren’t there. Until I realized I was dyslexic I couldn’t understand MY problems. Later it all became clear. I’m OK with it now.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

albaleoToday 07:11 am JSTThere are some people who are hard not to like. Just remembering him in Happy Days makes me happy.

Ayyyyyyyyyyy! Mr. Cool - Arthur Fonzarelli gave us Happy Days when I was a kid and now he keeps on doing it, as a champion to fight dyslexia. The Fonz is a hero in more ways than one. I remember seeing the pics of his wedding on People magazine. I was 11.

Henry 'Fonz' Winkler, you are an icon and will always be a shining star and a hero for us! Shalom, chauverim.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I met Henry in person while he was waiting for his son to get his first drivers’ license. He was so personable. I complimented him on a wacky role he had performed as a dad in a RomCom - and his joy was genuine.

May the books continue to help kids. I hope to see him on the big and little screen for many more years to come.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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