Henry Winkler, Emmy-winning actor, director, producer and New York Times best-selling author, will be the keynote speaker at OBU’s annual Green and Gold Gala. The event will take place on March 3, 2020, at the Bricktown Events Center in Oklahoma City. The annual event raises funds for student scholarships at OBU.
Tickets are now on sale at www.okbu.edu/gala. Those interested in attending the event are encouraged to purchase tickets now, as seating is based on sponsorship level and purchase date. Sponsorship and corporate tables are available as well as individual tickets. Cost for the Gala is $150 per ticket, which includes dinner. Of that price, $75 will go toward student scholarships as a tax-deductible gift to OBU.
Winkler has enjoyed over four decades of success in Hollywood and continues to be in demand as an actor, producer and director. Winkler’s portrayal of ‘The Fonz’ for 10 seasons on Happy Days (1974-84) made him one of the most recognized actors in the world. He won two consecutive Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor in a Comedy Series (1976 and 1977), and three Emmy nominations in the same category. He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the leather jacket the character wore has hung in The Smithsonian since 1980. Fonzie’s lunch box was recently added to the exhibit.
He currently co-stars as acting teacher Gene Cousineau on the hot HBO dark comedy “Barry,” alongside Bill Hader. The role garnered him an Emmy Award for the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy in September 2018. The series concluded its second season in March 2019 and will return for a third season in 2020. Winkler also executive produces and stars in NBC’s celebrity adventure show, “Better Late Than Never,” which premiered in 2016. Taking a note from “The Amazing Race,” Winkler, alongside Terry Bradshaw, William Shatner and George Foreman, treks across the world in search of new adventures and life-changing experiences in the critically acclaimed reality series.
Born in New York City on Oct. 30, 1945, he began performing at the age of 14. A graduate of the Yale School of Drama in 1970, he moved back to New York to make his mark on Broadway, but decided to give television a try and headed to Los Angeles in 1973. He quickly found work in commercials and landed several guest spots on sitcoms including his first role on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” but an audition in October of that year changed his life forever.
Producers Garry Marshall and Tom Miller cast Winkler in the role of Arthur Fonzarelli, aka “The Fonz” (Fonzie) in the TV series, “Happy Days.” The ABC series was one of the most popular sitcoms from 1974-84. His portrayal of “The Fonz” made him one of the most recognized actors in the world and an international star, a status he still maintains to this day. Yet, while “Happy Days” and “The Fonz” continue to live in the past thanks to cable television, Winkler lives very much in the present.
In the last few years, he has appeared on a number of series. He starred in the popular Adult Swim series “Children’s Hospital” and had a recurring role on “Royal Pains.” He was also seen on “New Girl,” “Parks and Recreation” and “Arrested Development.” His guest role in the ABC series, “The Practice,” earned him an Emmy Award nomination. He also starred in the CBS sitcom, “Out of Practice.” Among his most notable credits are guest-starring roles on series such as “Numb3rs,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” “Third Watch,” “Crossing Jordan,” “Law and Order: SVU” and the Hallmark Channel holiday movie, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” He also lent his voice to such shows as “All Hail King Julien” on Netflix, “South Park,” “King of the Hill,” “Family Guy,” “The Simpsons” and “Clifford: The Puppy Years,” for which he received an Emmy Award.
Winkler has also made his mark in films as well. His motion picture credits include “Night Shift,” “Here Comes the Boom,” “The Waterboy,” “Click,” “The Lords of Flatbush,” “Heroes,” “Holes” and “Scream.” He also directed several movies including “Memories of Me,” starring Billy Crystal and the late Alan King, and “Cop and a Half,” starring Burt Reynolds.
He has executive produced or produced TV series and specials for 19 years. These include “MacGyver,” “So Weird,” “Mr. Sunshine,” “Sightings,” “A Family Again,” “All Kids Do It” (which won him an Emmy Award), “Ryan’s Four,” “Scandal Sheet” and the ABC documentary, “Who Are the DeBolts and Where Did They Get 19 Kids?” which won the prestigious Humanitas Prize. No stranger to live theatre, he has also appeared on Broadway in Neil Simon’s “The Dinner Party” with the late John Ritter, and in “The Performers.”
Winkler is a highly successful author in addition to his career on the screen. In 2003, he began writing a series of children’s novels with a co-author Lin Oliver, titled, “Hank Zipzer. The World’s Greatest Under-Achiever.” The books are inspired by Winkler’s struggles throughout his education due to his learning challenges and have appeared on several best-seller lists including The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. To date, he and Oliver have written 34 children’s novels, and his books have been published around the world in seven languages. Winkler writes everyday he is not acting or traveling.
In 2011, he published a collection of anecdotes and heartfelt observations, “I Never Met an Idiot on the River,” a collection of the lessons and photos he gathered while fly fishing in Montana. Continuing his love for children’s books, he released the first installment of a new series in January 2012 titled, “Ghost Buddy #1: Zero to Hero.” There are four books in the Ghost Buddy series. In the Fall of 2019, Winkler and his co-author, Lin Oliver, debuted, “Alien Superstar,” the first book in a brand-new middle-grade series.
Winkler is renowned as a public speaker, and audiences always leave his presentations inspired and entertained. Through humorous anecdotes and inspirational life lessons about overcoming adversity to his storied career in television and entertainment, groups of all ages can learn from his speeches. His passion for supporting others is the result of a lifetime struggle with undiagnosed dyslexia. He has worked tirelessly to bring awareness and support to children who learn differently by advocating for changes in the educational system and informing parents and teachers about learning challenges.
Winkler has always believed in helping others, and his work with children knows no boundaries. The list of groups with which he is associated is as long as his resume of acting credits. He has been a featured speaker before audiences of thousands of children across America and Canada at WE Day Celebrations, promoting education and service for students. His work also includes Honorary Chairman of United Friends of the Children, Founding Member of the Children’s Action Network, the first National Honorary Chairman of the Epilepsy Foundation of America, National Chairman of the annual Toys for Tots campaign, the National Committee for Arts for the Handicapped, the Special Olympics, the Los Angeles Music Center’s Very Special Arts Festival for children who are physically challenged, and numerous teenage alcohol and drug abuse programs.
Never asking to be recognized for his personal commitment to helping others, Winkler’s efforts have still not gone unnoticed. He has received a number of accolades from a variety of prestigious organizations including B’nai B’rith, Peace Prize by the United Nations, and Women in Film’s Norma Zarky Humanitarian Award presented to both Henry and his wife, Stacey, for their tireless efforts and devotion to the “improvement of the human condition.” He also received the Chevallier de l’Ordre des Artes et Lettres, the French Government’s highest honor. Winkler was one of 10 individuals honored by AARP with their 2010 Inspire Award.
In 2011, he was awarded the Honorary Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) from the Queen of England in recognition of his services to children with dyslexia and special education needs.
Of all the titles he has received, the ones he relishes most are husband, father and grandfather. Henry and Stacey have three children—Jed, Zoe, and Max—and five grandchildren. The Winklers reside in Los Angeles.
For more information about the Green and Gold Gala or to purchase tickets, visit www.okbu.edu/gala.
For more information about OBU, visit www.okbu.edu.
With its campus located in Shawnee, OBU offers 10 bachelor’s degrees with 88 fields of study and five master’s degree programs. The Christian liberal arts university has an overall enrollment of 1,868, with students from 37 states and 40 other countries. OBU has been rated as one of the top 10 regional colleges in the West by U.S. News and World Report for 28 consecutive years and Oklahoma’s highest rated regional college in the U.S. News rankings for 25 consecutive years. OBU is one of three universities in Oklahoma and the only private Oklahoma university listed on Great Value College’s rankings of 50 Great Affordable Colleges in the Midwest. The Wall Street Journal ranks OBU second in the nation for student engagement among all U.S. colleges and universities. Forbes.com consistently ranks OBU as a top university in Oklahoma and the Princeton Review has named OBU one of the best colleges and universities in the western United States for 15 consecutive years.