Life of Dad is excited to announce the start of a new program: My Life of Dad. Men who have excelled in their career, philanthropic, and family roles will be featured, and we couldn’t be happier to present our first interview…Henry Winkler.
Born in New York City, Winkler struggled with academics throughout his childhood, dealing with what would later be identified as dyslexia. Graduating from Emerson College, and later receiving a Masters from Yale’s School of Drama, Winkler’s acting career began with booking over thirty commercials.
In 1974, Winkler landed the role of Arthur ‘Fonzie’ Fonzarelli on ABC’s “Happy Days,” as he became the worldwide epitome of cool. In the 1980’s, Winkler began producing many television shows, while at the same time appearing in films such as “The Waterboy” and “Scream.” Currently, you can see Winkler starring in USA’s “Royal Pains,” and Cartoon Network’s “Children’s Hospital.”
In the 2000’s, Winkler and his writing partner, Lin Oliver became New York Times best-selling authors with their children’s book series, “Hank Zipzer – The World’s Greatest Underachiever.” The series is loosely based on Winkler’s childhood, growing up with dyslexia.
Winkler and his wife Stacey have three kids, and have spent much time working with children’s causes on a volunteer basis. In September, Winkler was appointed as a honorary OBE by the Queen of England, for his educational work on dyslexia in the U.K.
Below is the interview with Life of Dad Champion, Henry Winkler:
That my children have become wonderful citizens in the world.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER?
The fact that I have one. I still have to pinch myself.
And being honored by the Queen of England isn’t bad either.
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO SUCCESSFULLY BALANCE CAREER AND FAMILY?
Two words – “will” and “tenacity”
And the third word, which I think is the most important word for any parent: “listening.”
WHAT WERE THE CHALLENGES OF RAISING CHILDREN IN THE PUBLIC EYE?
One of the challenges was to make sure that the children were kept out of the public eye. Another challenge was to make sure that our home life was as normal and consistent as possible. And a third major challenge was to make sure that the children were not spoiled.
I think boundaries are unbelievably important to help a child to feel secure.
Chores is another concept that was important to me. Our children were great negotiators. I did their chores.
WHEN YOUR KIDS WERE YOUNG, AND IT WAS CRAZY AT HOME, HOW DID YOU RELIEVE STRESS?
Walk out of the room.
Take a swim.
Leave the house.
Explain very clearly to the children that I was in a bad mood and they could either leave me alone OR suffer the gorilla that was about to jump out of my body.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR FIRST TIME DADS?
Children do not break so easily.
At all costs, whether you are late or not, you can take that extra moment to listen to what they have to say.
A heard child is a powerful child.
OVER THE YEARS, WHAT MEAL HAVE YOU COOKED THE MOST FOR YOUR KIDS?
Breakfast. I must say…I’m extraordinary with scrambled eggs.
WHAT CHARITY OR PHILANTHROPIC CAUSE IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU?
My wife Stacey and I have always worked with children on a volunteer basis.
I am moved by children who learn differently.
YOUR ‘HANK ZIPZER’ CHILDREN’S BOOKS HAVE BECOME NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERS. HOW MUCH DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU?
I did not read until I was in my 30’s.
I love and appreciate my entire career.
I am proudest of the fact that I am part of a team that has written those 17 novels.
WHAT IS ONE GOAL THAT YOU STILL STRIVE TO ACHIEVE?
That I continue to grow as an actor until I literally cannot do it anymore.
ONE HUNDRED YEARS FROM NOW, WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO REMEMBER YOU BY?
My children’s children.