cover image Being Henry: The Fonz... and Beyond

Being Henry: The Fonz... and Beyond

Henry Winkler, with James Kaplan. Celadon, $30 (256p) ISBN 978-1-250-88809-9

In this winning memoir, former Happy Days star Winkler (I’ve Never Met an Idiot on the River) discusses his career, long-undiagnosed dyslexia, and lifelong struggles with self-esteem. He begins with his academic failures as a child in 1950s New York City, which caused regular clashes with his father, a stern Jewish refugee who wanted Winkler to take over the family lumber business. Drawn to performance as a means of coping (“I used humor to cover everything I couldn’t do—which was most things”), Winkler pursued theater instead, nursing dreams of a Hollywood career while he attended the Yale School of Drama. Shortly after Winkler decamped to California in the early 1970s, those dreams came true when he booked the role of Arthur Fonzarelli on Happy Days. He was often unable to participate in cold-reads, however, because of his dyslexia (for which he wouldn’t receive a diagnosis until he was 31). Winkler is candid about the ways such experiences stunted him emotionally, and at one point allows his wife, Stacey, to weigh in: “I have to admit there were times when I thought, ‘What the fuck? Now I have another child?’ ” Though Winkler includes plenty of inside-Hollywood fare, the book’s frankness sets it apart from standard-issue actor memoirs. The result is a heartfelt chronicle of learning to love one’s self, shortcomings and all. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM Partners. (Oct.)