Henry Winkler on reinventing himself after iconic role as Fonzie

Winkler discusses his journey from overcoming dyslexia on the set of "Happy Days" in the 70s, to getting behind the camera, authoring books and onto his latest project "Barry."
7:10 | 02/07/19

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Transcript for Henry Winkler on reinventing himself after iconic role as Fonzie
We're going into zabar's? Go towards the lox. Bagels and lox with a television legend, the fonz from "Happy days." No big deal. This is so luscious. MMM. Like butter. I wish you could be here to taste what we're tasting. Oh, it's so good. You can take the boy out of new York, but you can't take new York out of the boy, right ? That is so true. My grandparents told me stories about your mother. Mrs. Winkler. Where today he's greeted like royalty. You have fans from every generation. That's amazing. Right? And they say hello. Some children only know me as an author. The water boy, "Happy days. Ayyy. Ayyy you. From every corner of the globe. I saw you on okinawa, Japan when you came with happy days. Oh, my gosh. Loves you also very much. Lithuania loves you! Isn't it nice that you make people smile? I'm telling you, it is unbelievable. It is one of the great gifts. Chances are there is a Henry Winkler character you know and love. Ayyy He first burst on to our screens as the smooth talking jukebox smacking tough guy, Arthur fonzarelli. Better known as. Because I'm on the fonz, ayyy! Now at 7 years old, Winkler is still one of the most beloved stars in Hollywood. We are breathing rarefied air. And after six nominations. Henry Winkler. He got his first primetime Emmy last fall for the HBO comedy "Barry." I can't stop yet. My wife Stacey, kids, kids, Jed, Zoe, and max, you can go to bed now. Daddy won! It was so great to say "Kids, you can go to bed now". That was adorable. And they are now 35, 37 and 47. But to really understand the man, you hav to go back in time, the '70s. Henry Winkler was the brightest star on the biggest show on television. For near lay decade, "Happy days" was must-watch TV. At its peak, 22 million homes tuned in every week. Underneath the suave Italian tough guy character was a 27-year-old nice jewish boy from New York, worshipped by swarming teenagers. 25,000 people showed up when the four of us, Ron Howard, don most, Anson Williams, and me, showed up in Dallas. And our car was on the other side of the 25,000 people, and I said all right, let me tell you something. You're going to part like the red sea, and they're not going to touch us. We're going to get to that car. And we just walked through. It was the only time I used the fonz. The fonz just appeared in front of me. The fonz could do anything. So when Ralph and potsie accepted a challenge to jump over a shark, no problem. I learned to water ski on lake. Those are clearly you water skiing. Oh, they me. I did everything but the jump. If you watch that episode, I land on the beach and step out of the skis, and there I am, and I'm smiling. Half that smile is the fonz going hey, look at that, I did it. And the other half is Henry going oh my god, you did it! But while the Yale drama grad was playing the epitome of cool, you Henry Winkler were not that much like the fonz. No. I don't ride a motorcycle. I have never ridden a motorcycle. I finally realized that cool is also just being authentic. That is powerful. But when I changed my voice, I was like it unlocked me. I became like I could do anything, you know? My mind just was like on fire. At the same time, Henry was dealing with a life-long struggle with dyslex he didn't even know what it was until his own son was diagnosed. The dyslexia was so cripping for you, you had trouble even at table reads during "Happy days". Most embarrassing. I couldn't read it. And I didn't know why. So I constantly had to make up excuses or do something with humor to cover my shame. He channeled his pain into a best-selling children's book series. His latest, everybody is somebody is about a boy named hank who, like Henry, has dyslexia. His mom pushes the door open. Can you believe that I got my picture hanging on the bulletin board of ps 87? You're special, hank. Never forget that. She gave me a kiss on the forehead and left the room. And the last thought that I had before I drifted off to sleep is hank zipser, some day you're going to be somebody. You're eyes are misting. Why? Because that feeling never leaves you. When you're told often enough and young enough that you're not good enough, that you're not going to make anything of yourself, you believe it. When you meet a child who says how did you know me so well, because ey've read the book, you think this is the proudest moment of my entire life outside of my family. And I want every child to know that they have greatness inside them. Winkler knows about perseverance. After "Happy days," he says he was type cast and couldn't get acting jobs for years. So he went behind the camera, producing and directing shows like "Macgyver." To the left. And in the '90s, an onscreen resurgence, stealing scenes in smash hits like "The water boy." He pretends to fake. I don't know where I am. And creating memorable TV characters like Dr. Saperstein on "Parks and rec". It's like a little fleck of cream cheese on the green. And Barry zuckerkon on "Arrested development". I'm the only actor who has jumped a shark twice. But away from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, Henry is still in touch with that starry-eyed boy from New York. How many boyhood memories come through? That was my building, 210. That's where you laid in bed and dreamed of being somebody? That's exactly where I was There is not a person we haven't passed who is not starstruck by you. You don't need fame and fortunate to be somebody. No, you don't. I followed my dream. I wanted to be an actor, and here I am, and it worked. But no, you -- being who you are is to bsomebody. What a wonderful life. Yeah. You know what? That is so true. For "Nightline." I'm juju Chang in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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