Being Henry by Henry Winkler
The first thing that jumped out at me while reading the blurb for this memoir was that Henry Winkler is “… widely-regarded as the nicest man in Hollywood.” And throughout the entirety of this 240-page memoir, I kept thinking, “I can completely see why he’s earned that reputation.” (The blurb also says, “Though he would be the first to tell you that it’s simply not the case, he’s really just grateful to be here,” — which is also EXACTLY the sort of thing the nicest man in Hollywood WOULD say!)
Being Henry is an intimate and inspiring look into Henry Winkler’s life and career. In it, he shares his personal struggles (from dyslexia, to never feeling like he “fit in with the cool kids”) as well as his career struggles being typecast as the Fonz and having difficulty finding other work. It’s a heartfelt, honest, and really refreshing celebrity memoir.
While the book looks at his whole life, a large chunk of it is focused on Henry’s work in Happy Days — and fans of the Fonz will not be disappointed! It was interesting to see how this role shaped the rest of Henry’s career (both positive and negative) and to hear his inner thoughts and reflections on that. And while it does seem like he’s well deserving of his “nicest man in Hollywood” title, he’s also not afraid to call out others who didn’t treat those around them with respect.
As with a lot of memoirs, the stories within did jump around a little but this “train of thought” style of narrative only seemed to bring Henry’s voice to life on the page all the more. You could really see his passion for laughter and his love of comedy come across throughout his story. His sense of humor often brought a smile to my face, and I couldn’t help but share anecdotes aloud with my own family as I read.
Henry’s road wasn’t always easy. It took him a long time to explore and work through his inner self-doubt and the wounds of his childhood. I think it was really beautiful how he chose to share not only the lessons he’s learned along the way but also show a true vulnerability with us as readers. (We also got to hear little snippets from his wife of 40+ years. I think this shows a great deal of humbleness and love to include someone else’s voice in your personal memoir, and I adored that!)
This book was a delight to read, and it was a delight to get to know more about Henry. I only rate memoirs five stars, because they’re so personal, but this is definitely one that I recommend for fans of Henry’s work.
Those who enjoy celebrity memoirs (or grew up watching the Fonz!)
This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Advance e-copy of the book provided courtesy of the publisher, Celadon. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the book:
(From the publisher) From Emmy-award winning actor, author, comedian, producer, and director Henry Winkler, a deeply thoughtful memoir of the lifelong effects of stardom and the struggle to become whole.
Henry Winkler, launched into prominence by his role as “The Fonz” in the beloved Happy Days, has transcended the role that made him who he is. Brilliant, funny, and widely-regarded as the nicest man in Hollywood (though he would be the first to tell you that it’s simply not the case, he’s really just grateful to be here), Henry shares in this achingly vulnerable memoir the disheartening truth of his childhood, the difficulties of a life with severe dyslexia, the pressures of a role that takes on a life of its own, and the path forward once your wildest dream seems behind you.
Since the glorious era of Happy Days fame, Henry has endeared himself to a new generation with roles in such adored shows as Arrested Development, Parks and Recreation, and Barry, where he’s revealed himself as an actor with immense depth and pathos, a departure from the period of his life when he was so distinctly typecast as The Fonz, he could hardly find work.
Filled with profound heart, charm, and self-deprecating humor, Being Henry is a memoir about so much more than a life in Hollywood and the curse of stardom. It is a meaningful testament to the power of sharing truth and kindness and of finding fulfillment within yourself.