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Henry Winkler Once Dressed As Fonzie To Meet Terminally Ill Child, His ‘Happy Days’ Costar Reveals

Linda Purl, who starred alongside Henry Winkler as Fonzie's girlfriend on "Happy Days," is recalling a touching story from behind the scenes.

Henry Winkler became a household name playing Fonzie on the iconic sitcom “Happy Days,” which ran from 1974-1984. Linda Purl, who played Fonzie’s girlfriend on the beloved television show, recently spoke out to recall something that Winkler did off-screen during his run on “Happy Days” that shows what kind of person he really is. 

‘His Wish Was To Meet The Fonz’

Purl told Fox News that Winkler dressed up as Fonzie to make the dream of a terminally ill child come true through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. 

“This one little boy was 11 years old – terminally ill,” Purl said. “His wish was to meet the Fonz.”

Purl explained the cast would typically get out of costume as soon as they were done filming, but on the day that the boy was coming to set, Winkler stayed both in costume and in character. 

“This little boy was coming, and he was going to have dinner [with us],” she recalled. “And Henry comes in, but not as Henry but as the Fonz.”

Purl was initially confused Winkler doing this, and she thought to herself, “Well, that’s silly. What’s the deal? Just be yourself.”

However, it quickly became clear why Winkler felt it was so important to stay in character.

“What I failed to realize until I saw it in action was that Henry knew that this young boy was not coming to meet Henry,” she said. “He wanted to meet the Fonz. And Henry was very clear on the difference between the two.”

“So, we all had dinner with this darling boy and his father,” she continued. “And in this case, Henry had sprung for the rest of the family to be flown out at his own expense. He didn’t even tell us this, but we learned this later.”

Related: Henry Winkler Is Loving Life Fishing In Idaho

‘Henry Stayed Strong’

When Winkler learned that the boy and his father were only set to stay in town for one night, he quietly arranged for them to stay an extra few days on his dime. He also went above and beyond to make sure that the child and his father had “a spectacular time” while they were in Hollywood. 

All these years later, the dinner the “Happy Days” cast had with the boy is one night that Purl has never forgotten. 

“As we’re sitting there… the Fonz was able to say things to this little boy that Henry wouldn’t have been able to say – sort of Fonzi-isms,” she said. “You know, life wisdom of ‘Hang in there, dude. You’re going to be [OK].’”

“I had to turn away [because] the tears were flowing, most of us did,” she admitted. “But Henry stayed strong, and he stayed on his mission and his task for that hour or so with this little boy to give him this treasured time of joy. That’s Henry.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Winkler’s Known For Being Kind

Winkler has long been known for being kind to others. While interviewing him in 2020, the actress and talk show host Drew Barrymore recalled observing him being a nice person to others when she was a child star in the 1980s. 

“I wish I was there to give you a hug because when I met you when I was young, you actually changed my life forever because The Fonze—the most important man on the planet—was nice,” Barrymore remembered. “I was like, ‘Then everybody has to be nice because The Fonze is nice.’”

“I would clock the way you treated people and there was something about your kindness that made me know that that was the marching order of life,” she continued. 

Related: Why Henry Winkler Tossed The ‘Horrid’ ‘Happy Days’ Script That Brought Us Robin Williams

Winkler Responds

Winkler was touched to hear this from Barrymore during this interview.

“That is one of the most wonderful compliments I’ve ever gotten,” he said in response to her. “I never think of being nice, I think of being grateful. I think that I am so happy that I get to do what I dreamt of doing and it has grown over the years.”

Check out this interview in the video below.

The Fonz has been such a beloved character to millions of people ever since he first appeared on “Happy Days,” so it’s nice to see that Winkler appears to be a truly good person in real life. If only we had more celebrities like him in the world! 

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