Henry Winkler is often called the Nicest Man in Hollywood, but now he’s also known as an Honorary Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE). He was awarded the honor from the Queen (via British Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald, pictured with Winkler) this week in recognition of his services to children with dyslexia and special educational needs. According to the British Embassy in Washington, he’s spent much of the last two years touring the U.K. to educate about dyslexia and other learning difficulties. Winkler, who was diagnosed with dyslexia as an adult, is also the author of 17 children’s books centered on Hank Zipzer, a boy with dyslexia who overcomes his struggles at school and with bullies.
There are two things I love about the press release: One, that Happy Days the show is never actually mentioned, although Sheinwald sneaks in a reference (“Henry Winkler is living proof that difficulties can be overcome and that for those suffering disability and self-doubt, happy days can nevertheless lie ahead”). And two, the sense of formality that insures you will also not see the words “the Fonz” or “Fonzie” (“Mr. Winkler’s portrayal of Arthur Fonzarelli garnered him two Golden Globes and three Primetime Emmy nominations”). What I love about this in general is that it’s just another wonderful, unexpected line on Winkler’s résumé. It’s kinda like the first time you read that he was an executive producer on MacGyver or heard that he saw the short film that Better Off Dead… writer/director Savage Steve Holland had made about having suicidal thoughts after his high school girlfriend dumped him for the captain of the ski team and gave him an office so he could write it as a feature. It’s easy to just think of Winkler as “The Fonz” instead of as a man who’s also done multiple Adam Sandler movies, Arrested Development, and Childrens Hospital among other things (like wear orange shirts on Royal Pains). Every now and then we like to stop and remember.