Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli (also Fonzie, The Fonz, Fonzta!, or Fonz) is a fictional character played by Henry Winkler in the American sitcom Happy Days (1974–1984). He was originally a secondary character, but eventually became the lead. By the mid 1970s, he dwarfed the other characters in popularity.
Fonzie (The Fonz) is a leather jacket Italian-American, and later, part-owner of Arnold's restaurant, who lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the 1950s. In the very early episodes, Fonzie rode custom Harley-Davidson models. In the later episodes he rides a Triumph motorcycle. Overall, the Fonz rode a variety of models including Harley Panhead, Harley Knucklehead, Harley Sportster, Triumph 500cc TR5 Trophy (seen in the opening credits), Trophy 650cc and a BSA. He is known for his catchphrases: "Whoa", and "Aaay!"/"Eyyy!" while snapping his fingers, and forming a thrust-forward double thumbs up. He is also known to be able to fix Arnold's jukebox (or cause it to play his favorite song) by hitting it with the side of his fist. This trait occasionally applied to other objects; for instance, in a flashback episode detailing how he became friends with Richie, Fonz hits the wall of a building, causing all the lights to go out.
As a child, he and his mother were abandoned by his father. The only advice Fonz remembered his father giving was, "Don't wear socks in the rain." When he disappeared, he left a locked box for his son, but not a key; Arthur did everything to open the box, finally running over it with his tricycle. The contents? "The key, and that's it!" In the sixth season episode "Christmas Time", a sailor delivers a Christmas present ostensibly from his father, who wishes to make amends. Fonzie is resentful, but at the end of the episode reads his father's letter explaining why he left and opens it. He also learns that the sailor was his father, who admits in the letter that he doubted he would have the courage to reveal the truth to his son. In a later episode, Fonz unexpectedly meets a woman he believes is his mother in a diner. She convinces him she is not, but in the end, she looks at a picture of Fonz as a small child and sighs.
Though he takes pride in his Italian-American heritage, at one point in the series, his "Grandma Nussbaum" moves in with him, suggesting that he is actually of mixed ethnic heritage, possibly German-American or Jewish-German-American on his mother's side. (Evidence of this is mixed. When the other characters first learn her last name, they do doubletakes, and Grandma replies that she had been married a few times, but shortly after, when asked what she thinks of the apartment over the Cunningham's garage, refers to it as a "schlep" --- a Yiddish term. Winkler himself comes from German-Jewish parents who emigrated before World War II.) In the episode in which Fonzie is baptized, he makes a point in noting his appreciation for the Jews --- possibly maternal relatives --- who attended the ceremony. Grandma Nussbaum appears to have been a primary caregiver to Fonzie through the age of six. When he (instead) moves into the Cunningham's garage apartment --- a plot development that helped precipitate his domination of the program --- he turns his old apartment over to his grandmother. She is rarely referred to after that but she is featured in at least one later episode.
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Official Site: American Broadcasting Company
Links: The Fonz Wiki Happy Days Fonzie fan listing