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Daily Mirror
Katie Wilson

Henry Winkler says he was a 'damn fool' for turning down Danny Zuko role in Grease

Henry Winkler had admitted he was a ‘damn fool’ for turning down the part of Danny Zuko in Grease.

The actor, who shot to fame playing Arthur ‘The Fonz’ Fonzarelli in Happy Days, was offered the role in the 1978 movie, which went on to become iconic.

Instead the part went to John Travolta shortly after he’d starred in Saturday Night Fever and helped propelled him to super stardom.

Now 77, Henry admits turning down the role of Danny is something he has always regretted.

And he wonders how his career might have been different had he just said yes to the part.

Henry shot to fame playing The Fonz in the 1970s (Getty Images)
As he looks now he is 77 (Getty Images for Vulture)

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Speaking to CNN, the actor said: “It was so bad, that not only could I not find work, but I was sitting at my desk and I thought to myself, am I ever going to find anything with as much impact as The Fonz.

“How will I know? Will anybody ever ask me? I’m not getting any offers.”

Revealing he was offered Danny Zuko before getting his big break on Happy Days, he says now he was a “damn fool” not to do it.

He continued: “I only realised years afterwards. I thought, I’ve played The Fonz, I don’t want to do it again. It’s already happened. I’m already typecast.

“I should have just shut up and had a really good time making that movie.

“I go home, I say no, and I have a Diet Coke. John Travolta goes home, who has done the movie, and buys a plane.”

John Travolta landed the part of Danny Zuko instead (CBS via Getty Images)

Even though he wasn’t Danny Zuko, Happy Days – which aired for 10 years from 1974 to 1984 - still made Henry a global star.

Biker The Fonz, or Fonzie, was one of the most popular characters on the show and cemented Henry’s status as a sex symbol of the time.

He was one of only two characters to appear in all 255 episodes of the show – but producers were originally going to cast a tall, blonde actor for the role.

Although he claims he is typecast, Henry went on to star in movies Scream and was a long-time collaboration with Adam Sandler appearing in The Waterboy and Little Nicky, among others.

More recently he was appeared in Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch and Black Adam, starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, which was released last month.

Henry guest starring in Arrested Development (USA Today)

Henry won two Golden Globes for his role as The Fonz. He also scooped an Emmy for his portrayal of Gene Cousineau in dark comedy series Barry.

More starring roles include his guest appearances as Barry Zuckerkorn in Arrested Development and Dr. Saperstein on Parks and Recreation.

The actor, who has directed and produced in addition to acting, also has a reputation as being ‘one of the nicest, most genuine men in all of Hollywood’.

Offscreen Henry has been married to wife Stacey since 1978 and they share son Max and daughter Emily.

He also has a stepson, Jed Weitzman, from Stacey’s previous marriage to US entertainment lawyer Howard Weitzman.

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