In this installment of “22 Minutes,” 1010 WINS anchor Brigitte Quinn sits down with actor, director, and author Henry Winkler.
Winkler discussed his “Hank Zipzer” book series, his New York City upbringing, his life as a father, and his legendary role as “The Fonz” on “Happy Days.”
The critically acclaimed book series follows the everyday adventures of a boy with learning challenges from fourth to sixth grade. Winkler and his partner Lin Oliver also created the series “Here’s Hank” based off the same character, but as a second-grader.
HW: Now we figure that every child has a challenge. Too tall, too short, doesn’t like their body, acne, is not good at sports. Whatever it is, every child has some sort of challenge and they find themselves here in Hank.
BQ: And teachers love these books too…
HW: We’re very grateful. Parents say, you know I was walking by my child’s bedroom. I heard them laughing, open the door, and they’re laughing reading a book. So we’re very proud of that.
BQ: How do you and Oliver work together, how do you collaborate?
HW: We are the ideas couple, we really are. We have written every novel in her office. She sits at the computer and I talk, she types. She’s got an idea, she types, I wait. Then we argue over every word. We have done that now for the 32 novels we have written together.
BQ: And that series, “Hank Zipzer”, that was turned into a series for the BBC?
HW: We couldn’t sell it in America. They said “We love Hank, he is SO funny. Could you make him a little less dyslexic?” and we went, “No, that’s the point.” But BBC bought it, and this last season I’m very proud to say we were number 2 or number 3 in all children shows on the BBC.
Winkler also discussed his experiences growing up with learning challenges and the people that made a different along the way.
HW: Mr. Rock [teacher] said to me, “Winkler, if you ever do get out of here. You’re gonna be okay.” But he was the one and I held on to that one sentence that he said. It was in my heart, it kept me going until like… yesterday.
BQ: Your parents were very tough on you because you had trouble learning, which was undiagnosed until you were 30?
HW: Yes, I made a decision that I was going to be a different parent. I made a decision that my children could say anything that was on their mind.
BQ: You wound up at Emerson, and then at Yale? And for a guy that struggled in school, how to you get into Yale?
HW: I don’t know how I got into Yale. I had to do a Shakespearean monologue. And because reading was and is so difficult for me, I memorize it as fast as I can, as much as I can. I panicked a little bit and I ad-libbed Shakespeare. And they still took me.
Check out the full interview in the video above.
About Henry Winkler:
Henry Winkler is an actor, producer, and director, and speaks publicly all over the globe. In addition, he has a star on Hollywood Boulevard, was presented with the Order of the British Empire by the Queen of England, and the jacket he wore as the Fonz hangs in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC. However, if you asked him what he was proudest of, he would say, “Writing the Hank Zipzer books with my partner, Lin Oliver.”
About Brigitte Quinn:
Brigitte anchors mornings at 1010 WINS radio and has worked in broadcasting for more than thirty years. She was a TV anchor at the Fox News Channel, MSNBC and NBC. She holds an MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College and a BS from Cornell University. Her first novel, “Anchored” was published in 2015.
Follow Brigitte Quinn @BrigitteQuinn11