Born on this day in New York City, actor, director, and producer Henry Winkler (1945-) defined black-leather cool as Arthur "the Fonz" Fonzarelli on ABC’s Happy Days (1974–1984).
"I love my life," he once said. "I'm living my dream."
With a Masters of Fine Arts degree from the Yale University School of Drama, Winkler made his film debut in 1973's The Lords of Flatbush (w/Sylvester Stallone). "It was the most fabulous life I could imagine," he said about the experience.
Less than a month after arriving in Los Angeles, Winkler scored the "minor" role of 50s tough guy Fonzie and transformed the character into TV superstardom. The world became caught up in the Fonzie frenzy; Winkler received 50,000 fan letters a week.
"Everything that I wanted to be he was," Winkler explained. "I got to be cool."
"Your mind knows only some things," Winkler said. "Your inner voice, your instinct, knows everything. If you listen to what you know instinctively, it will always lead you down the right path."
In 1990, the passionate actor co-founded the Children's Action Network, CAN, to increase awareness about children’s issues, which includes finding homes for 114,000 U.S. children waiting for an adoptive family and improving outcomes for 500,000 children in foster care.
"I wanted to actually do something with the incredible attention that was paid to me," he said. "The future of our world rests in very little hands."
In September 2011, Winkler received an honorary Order of the British Empire for helping dyslexic children in the UK.
He said, "An individual doesn't have to help the entire world in order to make a lasting difference. All it takes is devoting ourselves to the welfare of one individual child."
Congratulations: you are terrific!