Saturday 21 October 2023

Book ~ "Being Henry: The Fonz ... and Beyond" (2023) Henry Winkler

From Goodreads ~ From Emmy-award winning actor, author, comedian, producer, and director Henry Winkler, a deeply thoughtful memoir of the lifelong effects of stardom and the struggle to become whole.

Henry Winkler, launched into prominence by his role as “The Fonz” in the beloved "Happy Days", has transcended the role that made him who he is. Brilliant, funny and widely-regarded as the nicest man in Hollywood (though he would be the first to tell you that it’s simply not the case, he’s really just grateful to be here), Henry shares in this achingly vulnerable memoir the disheartening truth of his childhood, the difficulties of a life with severe dyslexia, the pressures of a role that takes on a life of its own and the path forward once your wildest dream seems behind you.

Since the glorious era of "Happy Days" fame, Henry has endeared himself to a new generation with roles in such adored shows as "Arrested Development", "Parks and Recreation" and "Barry", where he’s revealed himself as an actor with immense depth and pathos, a departure from the period of his life when he was so distinctly typecast as The Fonz, he could hardly find work.

Filled with profound heart, charm, and self-deprecating humor, "Being Henry" is a memoir about so much more than a life in Hollywood and the curse of stardom. It is a meaningful testament to the power of sharing truth and kindness and of finding fulfillment within yourself.

I like reading bios/autobios and I thought Henry Winkler would have an interesting story to tell ... and he does.

Hard to believe that Winkler is in his late seventies! He was born to German parents who didn't show him any love or affection, something that has affected how he feels about himself and how he deals with others his whole life. He didn't do well in school and his parents called him stupid ... he discovered years later that he has dyslexia. When he wanted to be an actor rather than follow in his father's footsteps, he got no support from his parents until he was famous.

Winkler followed his dream and became an actor, finding success early on as Fonzie on Happy Days. Initially it was a show about Richie but the audience was drawn to Fonzie character and the show shifted its focus. While Winkler enjoyed the attention and money, he felt bad for the others in the cast because they weren't treated as well as he was. Once the show was over, he didn't want to be typecast as Fonzie and there were periods when he didn't work, which concerned him emotionally and financially. 

I liked this book and Winkler sounds like a nice fella. I liked the writing style (it was humorous at times) and I found his story interesting. I didn't realize how much he's done over the years ... I most recently saw him in Barry. Unlike in the past, he now embraces that he was Fonzie when it helps others (children with learning disabilities, for example).  As a head's up, there is swearing.

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