Arthur Fonzie Fonzarelli from Happy Days is iconic thanks to his comedy slogans and leather jacket, however, ABC didn’t want him to wear a leather jacket. They had a very specific reason that the character should dress differently. However, legendary TV producer Gary Marshall managed to find a loophole in their claims.
Why leather jackets were originally too much for ‘Happy Days’
First of all, a little background. When people think of 1950s men’s fashion, they often think of leather jackets. Part of the reason is 1950s icons like James Dean and Marlon Brando. Another reason is that 1950s fictional characters like oilers Fat and Fonzie from Happy Days adopted the look.
According to an interview given by Winkler Weekly entertainment, ABC didn’t like the idea of Fonzie in Leather. Why? [T]hey thought i would be associated with the crime, recalls Winkler. It’s fascinating to think of a character on a sitcom as healthy as Happy Days might scandalize ABC but that was another time.
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Why ABC allowed Fonzie to wear a leather jacket
So why did ABC finally allow Fonzie to wear a leather jacket? The leather jacket came when [exec producer] Garry Marshall has made a deal with ABC. [The network] says: Yeah, okay, you can only use it in leather when it’s with his motorcycle.
This dictum had a huge impact on the representation of the Fonzies. Garry returned and told the writers: Never write a scene without his motorcycle again. So I always stood next to my bike inside, outside, in my apartment, in Arnolds. No matter where, I was always with my motorcycle. And that’s how I got out of the golf jacket and the leather.
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How the world reacted to Fonzie’s look
Winkler recalled how ABC’s attitude towards Fonzie has changed dramatically. He went from there to a few years later [ABC] offer mine [spin-off] show, which I thought was the kiss of death. It was flattering, but he lived and breathed in this environment with these fabulous people. You take it out of this, and what have you got? You have nothing.
According to TV guide, Winkler played Fonzie in a cartoon spin-off called The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang. The spin-off featured members of the Happy Days cast reprising their roles. Also, Fonzie wore his jacket on this show.
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Fonzie would later be commemorated with a statue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It’s quite interesting because there are very few statues of TV characters. The statue, sometimes referred to as The Bronze Fonz, depicts Fonzie in his leather jacket, showing just how iconic the look has become. Additionally, Fonzie is pictured wearing a leather jacket in The Father, the Son and the Saint Fonz, an episode of Family guy where Peter Griffin founded a religion based on Happy Days. The world loved this jacket – even though ABC didn’t at first.
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