CLEVELAND (WJW) — It’s a cool motorcycle in its own right — a classic 1947 Harley Davidson Knucklehead.
When the owner George Roeder got it, the engine was sound and the frame was perfect, but it needed to be brought all the way back to the original.
“I had to put a different tank on it. I had to pull the top end off it and go through that. I had to repaint it and have some chrome work done,” Roeder said.
You have probably seen this bike before and just not known it. It appeared in a bunch of movies — and one of the greatest TV shows of all time.
The show Happy Days ran for 10 years, and a big part of its success was the character “The Fonz.”
The Fonz was that tough but cool guy in your neighborhood. He was a larger-than-life character, played by the very down-to-earth and outstanding actor Henry Winkler.
He has a new book out about his life, his struggles with dyslexia, being the Fonz and why people even 39 years after the last episode aired still love Happy Days and its characters.
The Fonz and his motorcycle were a big part of the show, and this reunion between the two on FOX 8 News in the Morning revealed a little-known truth:
“Okay here’s the truth. Honesty is the best policy. I have never ridden a motorcycle,” Winkler told the FOX 8 News in the Morning crew.
There were a lot of different bikes used during the show’s long run, but Roeder’s 1947 Knucklehead was the very first one, and the last one that Winkler tried to ride.
“So they put me on the motorcycle. We’re inside, and I have to ride 5 feet and a very slow roll into five feet,” Winkler said. “And I don’t know what happened, but I let go of the brake — the thing with the boom and the bim. We were going so fast the director of photography jumped out of the way. I put the bike down, I slid under the sound truck and they came running.
“They wanted to make sure that the bike was fine because it was rented.”
But that crash didn’t stop who the Fonz would become. Because for Henry Winkler, the Fonz wasn’t just a guy in a leather jacket on a motorcycle.
“The idea of entertainment is to illuminate life. You go, ‘I understand that; Oh, that helps me; Oh, that makes me feel better. That’s out job. It’s not to be a star,” Winkler said.
And Henry Winkler isn’t just the Fonz. He’s played many different roles over an acting career that’s spanned more than 50 years.
He’s also a producer, director and author of children’s books — and a guy who loves a good sandwich.
He tweets about his favorites, especially if it’s made out of Thanksgiving leftovers, so we surprised him with the Melt restaurant’s Bomb Turkey sandwich.
And yes, he liked the sandwich.
He also took time to make peace with the motorcycle that scared the heck out of him all those years ago.
Henry Winkler will always be the Fonz.
But instead of the cool, young guy in your neighborhood, at 78 he’s the nice old guy down the block — who’s always got a good story and a good laugh to share.