There are many conventions out there where fans can mix and mingle with stars from their favorite films and television show, but none quite like the grandaddy of all autograph shows: The Hollywood Show. This thrice-annual gathering attracts a talent, who gleefully meet their fans. Everyone from Don Knotts to Charlton Heston to Carrie Fisher to William Shatner, Stan Lee and Ernest Borgnine has shown up.
At the most recent Hollywood show, a virtual treasure trove of Tinseltown’s elite gathered to sign autographs and pose for photos with fans from all over the world. Singer Samantha Fox flew in from England, and Sam J. Jones of “Flash Gordon” was spotted.
The Washington Times sat down with Henry Winkler, Fonzie himself, to discuss “Happy Days” and his later work on “Arrested Development” and his children’s books. And from “Cheers,” George Wendt joined in the discussion to reflect on the fans, the fame and what makes this event so special.
Question: Have you done many of these conventions where you meet fans?
Henry Winkler: I have all over the country and all over the world. It is an honor for me to meet the fans, a blessing. Everyone if so warm, and the children know my from the children’s books. Their oldest siblings or young parents know me from “Here Comes the Groom” or “Waterboy.” There is a whole other generation that knows me from “Arrested Development” “Scream” and, of course, “Happy Days.”
George Wendt: I’ve done a few, yeah. I’m still relatively new at it. This one has been great. A lot of the conventions aren’t full of “Cheers” fans. They are more themed for fans of monsters and zombies.
Q: I imagine some folks are fans of your role in the horror flick “House”, yes?
GW: Yes. That film has quite a fan base.
Q: What is the strangest thing you have ever been asked to sign.
HW: The strangest thing has to be parts of their anatomy. But mostly female.
GW: I’m sure there has been something ridiculous, but nothing springs to mind. You have the usual things like breasts and such.
Q: George, did playing Norm on “Cheers” make you one of the most beloved characters in TV history?
GW: That’s not for me to say. It’s nice of you — or others — to say.
Q: Is that role your proudest career moment?
GW: Of course, yeah. Yeah.
Q: Were the new Jenny Craig commercials fun to do?
GW: Yeah. It was great to see John [Ratzenberger] and Kirstie [Alley.]
Q:In your whole career, what are you most proud of?
HW (holding up a copy of his latest “Hank Zipzer” book): This. I never knew that this would happen in my life. It is one of the greatest things. It is like a gift from God.
Q: Where did the idea of writing children’s books and the inspiration for the character some from?
HW: Somebody said, “Hey, there is a lull in your career. Why don’t you write books about your [dyslexia]?
We are currently writing our 34th novel. We have been on The New York Times Best Sellers list. It is amazing. I have toured all over the world. The Queen of England gave me the honor of the Order of the British Empire for working with children.
The next Hollywood Show is July 8-10 at the Westin LAX in Los Angeles. For more information visit HollywoodShow.com.