Henry Winkler

  1. John Wayne, Rooster Cogburn, 1974.      The idea was fair – a sequel  to True Grit.  But if Wayne proved too ill, what would be the point of someone else in his titular Oscar-winning rôle? Marlon Brando topped producer Hal Wallis’ eye-patch list of Eastwood, Richard Burton, Gene Hackman, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, George C Scott and some of Duke’s old co-stars: Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Rock Hudson, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck. Pus four of Katharine Kate’s previous co-stars – Charles Bronson, Burt Lancaster, Peter O’Toole, Anthony Quinn – and as she continued trying to pick guys she’d never worked with before… Warren Beatty, Henry Fonda, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O’Neal, Paul Scofield and Henry Winkler – the Fonze instead of  the Duke?!!).  (McQueen turned down Hepburn’s  Grace Quigley in 1983).   Kate wrote that embracing Duke “was like leaning against a great tree.”

  2. Louise Fletcher, The Exorcist II: The Heretic,  1976.

  3. Harrison Ford, Heroes, 1977.     Who would you rather cheer for: Han Solo or  Da Fonz?
  4. John Travolta, Grease, 1977.     No typecasting please! Enough with combs and hair as The Fonz on Happy Days, 1974-1984, not forgetting a 50s’ leather clad hood three years previously in The Lords of Flatbush. Enter: Travolta, to complete a rare box-office double-whammy after Saturday Night Fever. Although damn little of the 1972 stage musical remained in the movie, Travolta knew the source having been an understudy during the Broadway run. Not for Danny, but Doody. (Richard Gere, however, was Danny in the 1973 London West End production).
  5. Michael Keaton, Night Shift, 1981.     John Belushi passed (too Animal House?)and then ODed during the shoot ofactor-turned-director Ron Howard’s first major Hollywood (ie non-Roger Corman) movie.  Ron tested 40 of almost 200 actors for Bill Blazejowski, running a hooker call-out service from the city morgue!   Eight of them (Mickey Rourke, Kurt Russell included) read scenes with Howard’s Happy Daysco-star, Henry Winkler, already given the choice of “Blaze” or his boss, Chuck Lumley. Keaton, however, stole the movie and won the movie career Winkler could only dream of.
  6. Treat Williams, The Pursuit of DB Cooper, 1981.    Whatever Winkler lacked as a big-screen performer, he made up for as a producer with his Fair Dinkum combine: MacGyver, Young Sherlock Holmes, The Sure Thing, Hollywood Squares,, and the familiy reunion specials of Dallas, Dynasty, Happy Days, Knots Landing.
  7. Michael Richards, Unstrung Heroes, 1995.  Who ya gonna call? The old TV  hit of the 70s – Da Fonz on Happy Days – or the hyperkinectic scene-grabbing  Kramer from the current, 90s’ smash, Seinfeld.  For director Diane Keaton, it was no contest. Winklerarrived in character andf full costume, for his test. But  as my favourite US  critic Roger Ebert said, crazy uncle Danny Lidz tended “to enter rooms through the window, murmuring darkly about being followed.” How Kramer is that?  Keaton knew this story. It was about family and misfits. It was personal to her. Roger Ebert said: ‘There are moments so touching that the heart almost stops.” And she picked a fine  cast. –  “All the actors broke my heart” – Maury Chaykin,  Andie MacDowell, John Turturro,  Nathan West  and Richards, without whom there would be no film.  Disney only agred to stump up the budget because Richards was cast. So it’s thanks to the Mouse House that  that I ws able to meet him for a fun interview during the ‘95 Cannes. Keaton directed two more films  (not so good) and now knows “how it is  nearly  impossible it is  to make a good film.”
  8. Eric Roberts, Doctor Who (The Movie), TV, 1996. 



 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  8