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November 22, 2023

Being Henry: The Fonz . . . and Beyond by Henry Winkler ~ A Review

by Susan Roberts

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.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of memoir Being Henry The Fonz and Beyond by Henry Winkler
October 2023; Celadon Books; 978-1250888099
audio, ebook, print (256 pages); memoir

I tend to stay away from memoirs of famous Hollywood people but I made an exception for this book - after all - he was The Fonz.  Reading the book I learned that he was much more than the character he played on television.  I finished this book with much admiration for this man who worked so hard to achieve his dreams but remained grounded and a genuinely nice person who is still thrilled with his successes in life.

Henry had a difficult childhood.  His parents were German and had emigrated to the US right before WWII.  His father ran a company that bought and sold wood and was determined that Henry would take over the company.  Henry had other plans -- he wanted to be an actor.  He graduated from Yale School of Drama and was planning for a career on the stage.  Acting jobs on the stage were difficult to obtain and Henry made money by doing commercials.  His agent suggested that he move to Hollywood and after a short period of time, he had a small part on a popular TV show.  During his second week in Hollywood, he auditioned for the part of the Fonz on the pilot of Happy Days.  The role of the Fonz was initially a small part but so many people loved his character, he became the central person in the series.  According to Winkler, "The Fonz" was "my alter ego. He was everybody I wasn't...He was in charge. He was confident. He was everybody that I ever wanted to have some part of in my body."  After Happy Days ended, Henry had been typecast and had difficulty getting jobs.  He began working as a producer until 1991 when he returned to acting.  He worked in several movies but knew that he wanted more.  In 1993, he was offered a job on Arrested Development, and in 2018, he won a role in Barry where he went on to receive several Emmys.  

This memoir is a look at the life of Henry Winkler from being a poor student in school due to undiagnosed dyslexia - his family just thought he was dumb - to being an Emmy Award-winning actor. What impressed me most with Henry Winkler is his profound sense of gratitude for all that he has done in his life.  He is so thankful to everyone who has been with him along his life's journeys.  He is also thankful for his wife of over 35 years and his children.

NOTE:  If you enjoy audiobooks, Henry Winkler narrated it and from what I've heard from several people, he did a fantastic job. Check out Donna's review of the audiobook.

Buy Being Henry at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.   

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