Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Fonz

While I never consciously look over my shoulder and prefer instead to always move forward in time, it is sometimes pleasant to reflect upon the past and occasionally reminisce about the more memorable chapters in one’s life. For a few minutes earlier today, I had the opportunity to do just that and be able to include Sarah in the experience.

Time flies when you’re having fun is an oft used statement which is in fact very true. It is hard to believe that 29 years ago I was a newly hired entry-level “page” at ABC-TV, learning the ropes that would hopefully allow me the opportunity to climb the corporate ladder at America’s leading broadcasting company. One of the shows that I worked on most Friday nights back then was Happy Days, which was filmed before a live studio audience on Stage 19 at Paramount Studios. Included amongst the talented cast of actors on this popular television show was Henry Winkler, who portrayed Arthur "The Fonz” Fonzarelli.

In addition to being an actor, Henry has gone on to a very successful career as a producer, director, and the author of several children’s books. The theme of many of these books is dyslexia, a learning disorder that Henry himself unknowingly at the time grew up with. As I type this, Henry is currently in the UK promoting the publication of his latest book.

Sarah and I were in Manchester earlier today and had the opportunity to have an all too brief yet still very pleasurable conversation with him. He was pleasantly surprised to encounter a former ABC Page (in England!) who had worked on his show all those years ago. As is his nature, Henry was very warm and gracious to Sarah as we briefly ventured down memory lane, before he had to continue on to the appointment at hand and Sarah and I had to move along ourselves.

Many of the people who I worked with, who started off their own entertainment industry careers as a page at ABC (as did many others at CBS and NBC), will soon be getting together for a reunion which I unfortunately cannot attend. When they gather to compare notes and reminisce, I can predict that most will be in agreement that those truly were happy days, and it was working with people like Henry Winkler that made it so.

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