"They were very critical and sometimes cruel. Their pet name for me was Dummer Hund (dumb dog)," said Winkler of his parent's treatment.
Henry Winkler has made quite a name for himself not just for his acting skills and flawless comedic timing but also as a successful children's book author and show producer. Winkler who is best known for his role as Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli on the popular sitcom Happy Days made sure that he was not typecast for future roles and went on to win several awards.
The 76-year-old played iconic roles in shows like Arrested Development, Parks and Recreation and even won an Emmy for his role in the HBO dark comedy series Barry, according to CNN. Soon he would go on to become a producer for the hit action series Macgyver. While all of this success may seem all glitter and gold, it surely didn't come easy for the star who struggled with dyslexia all his life.
Actors are expected to read and memorize lines and we can only imagine how challenging it must have been for Winkler to overcome this. Apart from these personal struggles, he leads a quiet and fulfilling life with his long-time wife Stacey Weitzman, and three children. While raising his kids, he made sure not to repeat the mistakes his parents made with him.
The Manhattan-born star struggled a lot in school and as a result was criticized by his family who was unaware of his learning disability. The conflicts that would arise due to this could leave him stressed and anxious. As a child his parents would often punish him unfairly due to his deteriorating grades, straining their relationship further.
"They were very critical and sometimes cruel. Their pet name for me was Dumm Hund (dumb dog)," said Winkler of his parent's treatment. At 31, he realized the reason for his struggles and vowed not to repeat the mistakes his parents made. "As a child, before I went to bed, I thought every night that I would be a different parent from my parents. I don’t think I have ever laid a hand on my children – but as a kid, I had hands, a hairbrush … I remember having breakfast. It was cereal and I put my ear down to the bowl to hear the 'snap, crackle and pop.' My mother exploded and chased me around the table. All I was doing was listening. How bad was that?" he told The Guardian.
During an interview, he spoke about helping his youngest son, Max, who then told him that he loved him "too much" in his childhood. "And I said, 'I would do it all again,' because the alternative is hideous. My parents were very tough. Not just strict. They didn’t care to see an individual outside of who they were and how it translated to their life." Having been through so much growing up, he made sure to raise his kids the way he wanted to be raised himself.
Cover image source: Getty | Photo by Kevin Winter