On TODAY, 2/05/2019, Henry Winkler chatted with Kathie Lee and Hoda about how he struggled with reading when he was growing up. He says his son was tested for dyslexia, and everything the doctors said about his son was also true for him.
Henry Winkler, the actor best known as “The Fonz” on the 1970s sitcom “Happy Days,” is also an author of children’s books. Winkler wanted to help children just like him. The latest, “Here’s Hank: Everybody is Somebody”, is about a kid named Hank who goes the same New York school Winkler attended and is based on his experiences growing up and struggling with what he learned as an adult was dyslexia.
To help children like him, he got together with comedy writer Lin Oliver and wrote the first book in what’s become a best-selling series.
“Even at 73, I can tap into the pain of the 8-, 9-, 10-year-old in me that never achieved,” Winkler says. “I was told that I would never achieve. I failed at everything — except for going home.”
“It never dawned on me that I would have my name on a book,” the “Barry” star explained. “I thought I was stupid … You take that mantle with you when it’s said often enough and when you’re young enough. There is an emotional component, I think, that comes along with learning challenges, where I had no sense of self.”
He learned about his dyslexia at age 31 when he took his stepson to get evaluated. Until that point, Winkler said his family blamed his lack of academic achievements on laziness. He also felt pressure when it came to auditions, as he didn’t feel comfortable reading off scripts. As a workaround, he would memorize lines and improve the rest.
Today, he’s written 29 different books with the help of co-author Lin Oliver.
“We set out to write comedies that happen to be about a kid who had a challenge, but they were funny first,” he shared. “If we didn’t make each other laugh, Lin and I, it wouldn’t go in the book.”
The books take on the different forms of dyslexia. “Some people, it works on their ability to read and do math, to actually write a sentence,” Winkler added. “Some people write backward. When you’re reading, you miss words, they drop off the page or the words start swimming.”
Henry Franklin Winkler, OBE, is an American actor, comedian, director, producer, and author. He played the role of greaser Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli, the breakout character of the 1970s American sitcom Happy Days. He also starred as Sy Mittleman on Adult Swim’s Children’s Hospital, and as Eddie R. Lawson on USA Networks’s Royal Pains. Winkler also had notable guest-starring roles on Arrested Development as Barry Zuckerkorn and Dr. Saperstein on Parks and Recreation. In 2018, he began appearing as Gene Cousineau on the HBO comedy Barry.
Dyslexia, also known as a reading disorder, is characterized by trouble with reading despite normal intelligence. Different people are affected to varying degrees. Problems may include difficulties in spelling words, reading quickly, writing words, “sounding out” words in the head, pronouncing words when reading aloud and understanding what one reads. Often these difficulties are first noticed at school. When someone who previously could read loses their ability, it is known as alexia. The difficulties are involuntary and people with this disorder have a normal desire to learn. More than 3 million cases of dyslexia are diagnosed in the US every year.
Ref. MSN, TODAY, Wikipedia, pagesix.com
Photo courtesy of Bing via fox43.com