Henry Winkler is speaking out on the death of his longtime friend and mentor, Garry Marshall. Winkler, who played the iconic character Fonzie on Marshall’s long-running hit sitcom Happy Days, took to Twitter to pay tribute to the legendary creator/producer behind Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, and The Odd Couple. Marshall died Tuesday at age 81.
In his post, Henry Winkler thanked the late Happy Days creator for giving him his professional life. Henry also described the late movie and TV director as “larger than life.”
GARRY MARSHALL Rest In Peace .. Thank you for my professional life. Thank you for your loyalty , friendship and generosity .— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) July 20, 2016
Larger than life, funnier than most , wise and the definition of friend https://t.co/k8qxEe4rIZ— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) July 20, 2016
Henry Winkler was not the only Happy Days alum to pay their respects on Twitter. Movie producer Ron Howard, who played Richie Cunningham on the ABC comedy, described Garry as “a world class boss and mentor.”
“He leaves a huge void for all who were lucky to be in his orbit,” Howard wrote.
RIP #GarryMarshall whose humor & humanity inspired. He was a world class boss & mentor whose creativity and leadership meant a ton to me.— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) July 20, 2016
I miss Garry already. He leaves a huge void for all who were lucky to be in his orbit. A great friend https://t.co/gGuDMSWmOS— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) July 20, 2016
Scott Baio, who played Chachi Arcola, the cousin of Henry Winkler’s character, on both Happy Days and the spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi, described Marshall as “a second father” to him.
“He discovered me and gave me a wonderful life,” Baio wrote. “The entertainment industry has lost a comedic genius and good man.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Henry Winkler’s co-stars Anson Williams (Potsie) and Don Most (Ralph Malph) also issued statements on the death of the legendary TV creator.
“Garry Marshall gave me the opportunity of many lifetimes and, more importantly, genuine love and friendship; a love that transcended far beyond show business. Garry’s selfless nurturing of talent will be passed on to future generations along with all that he has created,” Williams said. “Garry, you are forever with us and I love you.”
Garry Marshall (1934-2016) in the late 1970s w/ the leads of "Happy Days," "Laverne & Shirley," and "Mork & Mindy" pic.twitter.com/reUiJpXaDt— Will McKinley (@willmckinley) July 20, 2016
Don Most described his late boss as “a uniquely creative force.”
“It was a great pleasure and treat to see him work, and work with him. And on top of this, he was a warm and generous man, who always fostered a feeling of family with our cast. We lost a giant today,” Most said.
Henry Winkler shot to fame in the early 1970s after Marshall cast him as Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli in Happy Days. Winkler told The Guardian that Marshall worked his magic to help the Fonz become a TV icon.
“The network, ABC, thought I’d be associated with crime if I wore a leather jacket,” Winkler told The Guardian. “At first, they had me put on a flimsy-collared golf jacket. It was unbelievably hard to be cool in puce. Garry Marshall, the show’s creator, struck a deal with ABC letting me wear leather. The first one I had got stolen from the costume department, so they made me five more and kept them in a vault.”
Henry also described the Happy Days cast as a “family” created by the legendary sitcom creator, and he said the cast and crew had a strong bond both on and off camera.
“The family Garry created made 255 episodes,” Winkler said. “We even had our own baseball team: we’d play against other shows, other networks. But the most important thing, besides lunch, was making a funny show from beginning to end,” Henry said.
As for one of Henry Winkler’s most famous scenes—when Fonzie jumped over a shark while on his motorcycle—his late boss once joked about the “jump the shark” catchphrase that is still used today to describe the point time when a TV show goes downhill.
“We figured, well, Fonzie’s gotta jump over something. What do we got?” Marshall once told The Guardian. “We can’t have him jump over cars, so … how about a shark? Sharks were big then! It was after Jaws, c’mon! And that phrase really took on a life of its own; it gets used in a political context, about ideas and products, and in every field, it’s applicable – all from Fonzie! I mean, it was not our best episode, I’ll be honest, but still. We jumped the shark – leave him alone!”
In addition to Henry Winkler and the Happy Days cast, other television stars paid tribute to the late Hollywood icon, including Who’s the Boss star Tony Danza and Full House star John Stamos.
Garry Marshall hired me at 15 years old. He gave my wife her start at 18, as a makeup artist. He changed our lives. And MANY others. #love— Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) July 20, 2016
The world has lost a great man, a comedy icon and a wonderful friend.— bob saget (@bobsaget) July 20, 2016
Rest in peace Garry Marshall.
We lost one of the all time greatest tonight. My dear friend, Garry Marshall, has passed away. My deepest thoughts to Barbara & the family.— Tony Danza (@TonyDanza) July 20, 2016
I was blessed to have worked with Garry Marshall. Not only was he a wonderful director, but also, he was a gentle, loving, kind man. #RIP— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) July 20, 2016
So sad to hear the news about Garry Marshall. He was a kind and generous man who gave everything to his family and his work. A real loss...— Fred Savage (@thefredsavage) July 20, 2016
Garry Marshall gave me one of the best experiences I ever had in my career. Thanks pal. RIP— jason alexander (@IJasonAlexander) July 20, 2016
Take a look at the video below to see Marshall talking about how he hired Henry Winkler.
[Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for TV Land]