THE FONZ swapped his motorbike for a fishing boat in Solihull last week as American actor Henry Winkler took an afternoon off his dyslexia awareness tour for a spot of fly fishing.
Winkler, best known for his role as leather-clad greaser ‘Fonzie’ or ‘the Fonz’ in 1970s hit show Happy Days, has been touring the UK with My Way! campaign, which aims to dispel the stigma surrounding learning difficulties.
Last Friday (June 15), he was surprised with an afternoon at Packington Trout Fisheries, in Meriden, to indulge his other passion; fly fishing. “It was a surprise,” he said. “Fishing makes me really happy. It’s an escape.”
He certainly needed one as the star’s hectic schedule saw him visiting Coventry’s Sidney Stringer Academy the following day to talk about children with learning difficulties, an issue close to his heart.
The actor struggled at school due to his dyslexia which was only diagnosed in his 30s. “They just told me I was stupid,” he said.
But Winkler, who received an OBE last year for his dyslexia work, said he’d seen schools’ attitudes come on in leaps and bounds.
“One in five children has a learning difficulty, that’s a big part of the population to let drift. So to watch these children flourish, and to see teachers who understand the children and how they learn is superb. It makes me so happy, I can’t begin to tell you.”
He also hoped the campaign would inspire children with learning difficulties to follow their dreams.
“They can look at what I do as an actor, what I do as a writer. I have achieved even though I was told I wouldn’t.”
The 66-year-old actor, director and producer has also appeared in films Scream, Waterboy and Click and TV show Arrested Development but said it was his 17 Hank Zipzer children’s books, featuring a dyslexic young boy, that he is most proud of.
“Acting is my dream and I got to live my dream,” he said. “(But) I’m most proud of my writing, because I never imagined I could do it.”
Yet, despite all his success, the celebrity said a part of him would always be the kid that couldn’t add up at school.
“Being an actor doesn’t maker you a better human being.
“No matter what I’ve accomplished, I haven’t grown, I’m still short. I still can’t do math...”