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Henry Winkler Calls ‘Happy Days’ Table Reads Miserable Before Dyslexia Diagnosis

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Henry Winkler’s upcoming memoir, Being Henry: The Fonz…and Beyond, tells all about his life and career, including his struggle with dyslexia while working on ABC’s Happy Days. He played the famous character, Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli throughout the 11-season comedy series, during which he was diagnosed with dyslexia at 31.

Learning that he was dyslexic made Henry “so f–king angry” because “all the misery I’d gone through had been for nothing,” referring to his difficult childhood due to his abilities. “It wasn’t a way I decided to be! And then I went from feeling this massive anger to fighting through it,” he stated.

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Henry Winkler’s health condition became a problem for ‘Happy Days’ cast

HAPPY DAYS, Henry Winkler, 1974-84. ph: Gene Trindl / TV Guide / ©ABC / courtesy Everett Collection

He also recalled struggling with his lines on the set of Happy Days and feeling “embarrassed and inadequate” despite being at the height of his success.

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“I would leave a word out, a line out. I was constantly failing to give the right cue line, which would then screw up the joke for the person doing the scene with me,” he recounted. “I would be staring at a word, like ‘invincible,’ and have no idea on earth how to pronounce it or even sound it out.”

HAPPY DAYS, from left, Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, 1974-84 (1976 photo). ph: Mindas / TV Guide / ©ABC / courtesy Everett Collection

His co-stars were supportive

The actor appreciated his colleagues for being supportive and patient with him while filming Happy Days. “Meanwhile, the other actors would be waiting, staring at me: It was humiliating and shameful. Everybody in the cast was warm and supportive, but I constantly felt I was letting them down,” he explained.

HAPPY DAYS, Henry Winkler, 1974-84. ph: Gene Trindl / TV Guide / ©ABC / courtesy Everett Collection

His condition also put a strain on some workers, as the writers had to turn in scripts earlier than usual. “I had to ask for my scripts really early, so I could read them over and over again— which put extra pressure on the writers, who were already under the gun every week, having to get 24 scripts ready in rapid succession,” he added.

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