Home Personality Henry Winkler Net Worth: From Dyslexia Struggles in School to a Four-Time SAG Award Nominee, How Much Does “The Fonz” Actually Make?

Henry Winkler Net Worth: From Dyslexia Struggles in School to a Four-Time SAG Award Nominee, How Much Does “The Fonz” Actually Make?

by Louise W. Rice

Henry Winkler is one of the most famous names in Hollywood. His portrayal of Fonzie in Happy Days will become the most iconic role in TV history. Yet, Winkler’s rise to fame had its struggles. Even after gaining worldwide media attention, The Fonz still found navigating a career in Hollywood difficult.

Not only is Winkler dyslexic, getting a late diagnosis but he’s also been typecast as Fonzie, leading to him losing out on numerous opportunities. Fortunately, he was able to turn things around due to his passion for acting and his fans’ support.

This article reviewed everything you need to know about Henry Winkler’s net worth, upbringing, career, and personal life. So, let’s dive in!

Henry Winkler Biography

Henry Winkler

Image source: Google

Henry Franklin Winkler was born to German-Jewish parents on October 30, 1945. The actor was born and raised in New York, which became his family’s home after they fled Nazi-occupied Germany.

Winkler’s family established their wood-trading business quickly in America, allowing them to properly raise Henry.

The Fonz was passionate about acting and art from a very young age, which frustrated his father. The German immigrant wanted his son to inherit the hard-earned family business. However, acting consumed Winkler.


Winkler was outgoing, with his classmates labeling him as the class clown. This doesn’t mean he didn’t struggle, though. Instead, Henry Winkler frequently recalls his battles with anxiety over schoolwork and family pressure.

It’s hard to imagine someone as charismatic as Fonzie struggling with anxiety and poor self-image. Yet, his parents were extremely tough with the young actor regarding his grades. He couldn’t even become involved in the school theater as he was almost always grounded.

Due to his poor performance in school, getting into college was tricky. Fortunately, after applying to 28 different schools, Winkler got accepted into Emerson College, where he studied theater and child psychology.

This double major is quite unconventional. Winkler considered child psychology a backup plan if he didn’t succeed as an actor. After all, his parents raised him to be practical!

Winkler graduated from Emerson College in 1967. Then, he auditioned for the Yale School of Drama to pursue his dreams of becoming an actor.

Battle With Dyslexia

Henry Winkler

Image source: Google

Henry Winkler’s school troubles weren’t due to any failings on his part. Winkler actually had undiagnosed dyslexia. He struggled greatly during auditions and couldn’t remember his lines numerous times.

Yet, The Fonz’s talent prevailed. While he couldn’t do well academically, he could always improvise his lines and wow casting directors.

For decades, Winkler masked his learning and memorizing issues with different coping mechanisms. It wasn’t until his stepson was diagnosed with a learning disability that he started learning about his condition and eventually got diagnosed with dyslexia.

Winkler’s journey with dyslexia turned into a career venture. During his career hiatus, he created the children’s book series Hank Zipzer: The World’s Greatest Underachiever.

The series was inspired by Winker’s own struggle with dyslexia. It also featured dyslexia, a font for people with learning disabilities.

Henry Winkler Career

Henry Winkler Career

Henry Winkler launched his splendid career after graduating from the Yale Drama School. Then, he was one of only 11 graduates to join the Yale Repertory Theater Company. He appeared in numerous plays from 1971 to 1972.

After leaving the company, Winkler tried his luck in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, the Fonz was fired from the play before it went to production.

Down on his luck, Winkler moved back to New York and started performing for free after having had a weekly salary of about $170 with the Yale Theater Company. This is equivalent to over $800 today.

In 1973, Winkler’s agent advised him to move to California. The New York native was incredibly reluctant at first. However, due to the lack of opportunities, he decided to try his luck in Hollywood for no more than a month.

Most actors spend years in California before even landing a supporting role. Not Winkler, though!

Happy Days Career

The Fonz

Henry Winkler auditioned for tens of roles during his stay in Hollywood. In his second week, he got to read for the part of Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli, a then-minor role on the TV show Happy Days.

Winkler wasn’t the first choice. He got to do a second audition in The Fonz’s costume. Cold reading was incredibly hard for Winkler, who struggled with dyslexia.

That said, Winkler knew how to improvise to overcome his issue. He read only six lines from the script, threw it in the air, and left the room. He got offered the role on his birthday.

While most actors would rejoice at getting cast and do whatever the director asked them to, Winkler had a vision. He completely recreated the character of Fonzie.

This transition was so perfect that the showrunners focused more on Fonzie. The Fonz was the show’s lead by season three, and the rest was history!

Current Career

Current Career

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You might think playing one of the most popular TV characters would lead to colossal stardom and opportunities. Sadly, this wasn’t the case.

After Happy Days’s immense success, every casting director wanted The Fonz. Yet, it doesn’t seem like they cared for Winkler.

Winkler hated the idea of getting typecast. So, he started his own production company, directing and producing numerous TV shows and movies.

Next, Winkler had minor guest roles and appearances. However, directors were apprehensive, believing having the Fonz in their movies would be too distracting.

Winkler got another opportunity in 2003 when he got cast for a supporting role in Arrested Development. In true Winkler fashion, he went in to do one episode but became one of the prominent cast members!

Henry Winkler Family

Henry Winkler Family

Image source: Google

Henry Winkler has experienced exceptional levels of fame. Yet, he has maintained the privacy of his personal relationships.

He met his wife, Stacey, in 1976 while shopping. Just two years later, the couple tied the knot. They were blessed with two children; Max and Zoe.

Henry Winkler’s Net Worth

Henry Winkler has an estimated net worth of about $40 million. The American superstar spends most of his fortune on real estate. Most notably, he and his wife, Stacey, purchased an astounding $3.4 million home in 1993, which they still reside in.

Winkler is one of the most generous people in Hollywood. During the COVID-19 crisis, many creatives and workers in show business were out of work. Winkler offered aid to SAG-AFTRA members and their families.

Final Thoughts

Henry Winkler has an exciting career. There were many bumps on the road for The Fonz, starting with his dyslexia, rejection from numerous roles, and losing out on roles due to his immense fame.

However, Winkler never gave up. When times got rough, he continued to pursue his passion. He started his own production company and wrote a children’s book series.

Nowadays, younger generations might recognize Henry Winkler from his work on Arrested Development and Parks and Recreation, proving his talents inspire different generations.

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