Happy Days alum and Barry Emmy winner Henry Winkler was among those who took some glee in mocking President Donald Trump’s apparent trouble drinking a glass of water while speaking at West Point last weekend — a kerfuffle that the embattled politician addressed by showcasing that he can, in fact, handle a pour of H20 with one hand during his widely publicized but sparsely attended campaign rally in Tulsa on Saturday.
Winkler, who at 74 is the same age as Trump, came fashionably late to the pile-on when he posted a 13-second clip of himself (looking rather quarantined with long white hair and a beard) sipping a glass of water with a single hand to Twitter on Sunday. It was captioned simply, “One hand.”
pretty brilliant, my friend. Reminds me of when you totally improvised the Iconic Fonz move of deciding your hair was perfect and then just shruggling to yourself in the mirror! I’ll never forget that. Awesome & elegant….Saying so much, with so little! https://t.co/EpN6xQdBnJ
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) June 22, 2020
“Pretty brilliant, my friend,” Howard wrote Monday. “Reminds me of when you totally improvised the Iconic Fonz move of deciding your hair was perfect and then just shruggling [sic] to yourself in the mirror! I’ll never forget that. Awesome & elegant….Saying so much, with so little!”
Howard, of course, played teenage lead Richie Cunningham in the 1950s-set TV classic Happy Days that ran from 1974 to 1984 and featured Winkler as the definitively cool, bravado-full Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli.
The gesture Howard describes became a signature move from The Fonz after he debuted it in the very first episode of Happy Days — so early into the show’s decade-plus run that Fonzie had not yet even adopted his trademark black leather motorcycle jacket. Network executives initially insisted the character wear a puce golf jacket because the black leather look would make his “greaser” appear too edgy for a wholesome family sitcom. (Originally, Fonz could only wear the black jacket when shown next to his motorcycle.)
Winkler, whose career has found a resurgence lately with his acclaimed and award-winning role as a narcissistic but sympathetic acting teacher on HBO’s Barry, explained the origins of the move in a 2015 interview with The Guardian.
“Everyone who’s ever played a Fonz-like cool character has always done the same things: combed their hair, stuck cigarette packets up the sleeve of their T-shirt. I swore I wouldn’t do any of that. Then, in the pilot, I had to look in a mirror. I told the director: ‘I can’t comb my hair, I made a deal with myself.’ He replied: ‘It’s written. You have to.’ So I walked up, held up my comb, then went: ‘Heeeey… that’s perfect, I don’t need to comb.’ That moment defined the Fonz.”
The Fonz would return to that move several times over the next 11 years (and Winkler spoofed it years later on Arrested Development), much to the delight of the show’s viewers and live in-studio audience.
Unsurprisingly, his Trump-skewering water video drew both and hot and cold reactions on Twitter.
Winkler’s Parks and Recreation costar Ben Schwartz gave his TV dad a virtual standing ovation, while others giddily weighed in.
How are you DOING that???? 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
— Randy Rainbow (@RandyRainbow) June 22, 2020
Coming to Trump’s defense was author Joel Comm, among others.
Dude. Lots of people love you for your work. Don’t spoil it so near to the end.
— Joel Comm (@joelcomm) June 22, 2020
I can’t believe people are still talking about how Trump drinks his water. The people who are always offended are finally out of ideas.
— Mindy Robinson 🇺🇸 (@iheartmindy) June 22, 2020
Will a clip mocking Trump’s trouble navigating that West Point ramp be next? That’s what Modern Family producer Danny Zuker asked.
“Have to work up to that Danny,” Winkler replied.
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