The Fonz visits Akiva school

By Jessica Elgot, June 24, 2010

A visit by Henry "The Fonz" Winkler made for happy days for pupils at Akiva School in Finchley.

The actor and writer popped in on Tuesday to speak to children about his story books. But Mr Winkler left his trademark leathers and motorcycle from the 1970s TV show Happy Days at home, and came dressed in a purple shirt and driving a BMW. In fact, he told the pupils he was unable to ride a motorcycle when playing Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzarelli, and his bike had been pulled along on a trolley.

Mr Winkler, 64, is campaigning with children's newspaper First News to raise awareness of learning challenges like dyslexia.

He told the children: "I am an actor, a producer and I have written 17 children's books. And I am in the bottom three per cent of America academically. And so I have a message for you. How hard it is for you to learn has nothing to do with how brilliant you really are."

Mr Winkler read excerpts from his books, co-written with Lin Oliver, about Hank Zipzer, whom Mr Winkler calls "The world's greatest underachiever."

He told the JC: "The books are really about my life. I want to make sure children with dyslexia know they are still smart, because once they don't believe that then you've lost that child."

Mr Winkler spoke of his delight at coming to Akiva, saying: "The children are so warm-hearted, intelligent and enthusiastic."

Akiva headteacher Susy Stone said: "Henry is an inspiration and a fantastic example."

Last updated: 12:49pm, June 24 2010