Henry Winkler Credits Adam Sandler for Saving His Career

WATERBOY, Henry Winkler, Adam Sandler, 1998, football team (image upgraded to 17.6 x 11.9 in)
Everett Collection

Henry Winkler was stuck. He had played Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli for eleven seasons on Happy Days and when the show ended, he was being typecast in the same kind of role. His career came to a screeching halt after being famous for so many years. In his memoir, Being Henry: The Fonz…and Beyond, Winkler opens up about how he credits comedian Adam Sandler for saving his career. Sandler hired Winkler to play Coach Klein in 1998’s The Waterboy.

Winkler shared, “The Waterboy was a very important reemergence for me. You know, when I finished [playing] the Fonze, I could not get hired really as an actor. And this was a very important [role].”

THE WATERBOY, from left: Henry Winkler, Adam Sandler, 1998

Buena Vista/Everett Collection

The Waterboy was the turnaround that he needed and he began to work more steadily again, even working with Sandler several more times in Click and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. Winkler then got a part in the sitcom Arrested Development and more recently received his first Emmy Award for his role as acting coach Gene Cousineau on HBO’s Barry.

THE WATERBOY, Henry Winkler, Adam Sandler, 1998

Buena Vista/Everett Collection

On Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Winkler opened up about how much fun he had while filming The Waterboy, about 25 years ago. He spoke about getting up in the middle of the night for a last-minute fishing trip during filming and admitted to Sandler, “I learned also to smoke a cigar because of you.” Winkler also shared, “When you do a movie with Adam. he wants you to be the most comfortable you can be.”

CLICK, Adam Sandler, Henry Winkler, 2006

Sony Pictures/Everett Collection

Purchase Being Henry: The Fonz…and Beyond to learn more stories about Winkler’s life and career.

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March 2021

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