My grandmother who knew a thing or three always wanted me to marry Henry Winkler. Actually, that's not the way she put it because I was, after all, 10, and she was, after all, just being farsighted. "Such a nice boy, Henry Winkler," is the way my grandmother would put it. And later, eight years later, "I hear from his aunt (neighbors/doorman/nearby grocer) that he's also very talented."
How could my grandmother know she was talking about the once and future Fonz( How could she imagine that he'd become the hip-wiggling, finger-snapping leather-jacketed lust object of "Happy Days?" How could I know that Henry Winkler who I think once kissed me in front of a beagle would be the passion of a million prepubescents just like I was when I think he kissedme!?
The anser is, she didn't and I couldn't. But the fact is earlier this season I experienced a horrible and unseemly urge to supplant Pinky Tuscadero as the world's hottest female bikerider.
If you do not happen to be a "Happy Days" fan. I'm here to tell you that Pinky Tuscadero emerged on the show for three episodes (repeated - to aggravate my sense of loss - in a 90-minute special Tuesday night) and captivated the Fonz and the viewing audience with her love of bikes, as well as other overwhelming qualities. She was play by Roz Kelly who may be getting her own show as a result; but as ABC about Roz Kelly and Winckler, and they will tell you, after much prodding, that in real life (if that's what you can call an actor's life) they're nor so crazy about each other. "She is like she is," is the graphic description from a network person, "and he is completely different."
And yet . . . Andy yet . . . Every time I open the National Enquirer (yes) and read a new tidbit on Henry Winkler, I alwasy feel that of all the marriage proposals I never got, I miss his the most.
These many years after my grandmother's plugs I have no difficulty remembering what my response was to all this praise of Henry Winkler's niceness and talent. I was cognizant of two things at that time, one of which was that he was considerably shorter than I was, which no amount of talent could compensate for; the other was that the revered Mrs. Goldberg (as we'll call her) had also praised him to my face, and that the burden of this adulation was becoming intolerable.
Mrs. Goldberg was Henry's and my mutual piano teacher who happened to live - like Henry and I - in the same building on the upper West Side of Manhattan. Henry's lessons came right before mine, and I suspect my rendition of "To A Wild Rose" was quite a letdown for Mrs. Goldberg, coming as it did after Henry's.
"Actually," Mrs. Goldberg would tell me, "actually, Henry doesn't practice 'To A Wild Rose.' He can pick it out by ear. Henry likes to make up his own music. Oh you should hear it - jazz, rock 'n' roll. Henry doesn't practice, but he's very original and talented."
Then Mrs. Goldberg would tune into my 'To A Wild Rose" with glazed ears, and tell me about her mother-in-law who died after a fishbone got stuck in her throat. The Goldbergs ate only boned fish after that.
You can imagine how craz I was about Henry.
I'm recounting all this because hard as I've looked through the national Enquirer, the women's magazines, the gossip columns where the Fronz appears regularly, I have never seen ss much as a mention of Henry's way with Mrs. Goldberg and my grandmother.After we were both 12, I moved out on him and the building, and Henry had to go it alone. To Yale Drama School. To engage in his pet hobby, which is allegedly pottery-making. Those were the years - you mustn't forget - before Henry joined the series that was to be Amy Carter's (yes . . . Amy Cater) favorite show.
Those were the years when one didn't hear much from or about henry Winkler. Even my grandmother more or less gave up on him ("He's probably already married."). It wasn't until 1973 that I stumbled upon him again - no Fonz, he in 1973. Henry Winkler was starring in a new Broadway show called "Forty-two Seconds from Broadway." I, on the other hand, was debuting as a theater critic.
It was a thrilling moment. Henry Winkler a State and me his maker! Reading the program notes before the show began, I could already count the fortune I would make from articles on my beau-manque. ("Henry Was an Original Piano Player!" "Why I Never Married Henry Winkler!")
Clive Barnes and Brendan Gill, two critics I hoped desperately to impress, were sitting on either side of me. Proudly, I pointed to the program notes, and breathed sotto voce, "I used to take pano lessons with Henry Winkler."
But the critics could take only minimal note of this, because that's when the curtain rose.
When the curtain descended at intermission, Brendan Gill, grim-faced rose to take his leave. "I only hope," he said delicately, "that Henry was better at the piano than he is as an actor."
"He was said to be a very original piano-player," I mumbled to Clive Barnes.
"For two cents," hissed Barnes, "I'd go too."
On my way home from the theater, I became aware of some nagging, distatnt and not altogether agreeable memory of Henry Winkler. Finally it surfaced, I remember (or thought I did, anyway) that when Henry and I were joined by mutual pano lessons, Henry had caught ringworm from Mrs. Goldberg's beagle, and given it to me I pondered the story, "HENRY WINKLER GAVE ME RINGWORM," and promptly included it in an article I wrote at the time.
Well, Henry Winkler had a fit. I know this because three summers ago, Henery Winkler, already the Fonz, already the venticle-piercer of a million girl-children, chanced upon my sister. "I never gave your sister ringworm," Henry told my sister in great heat. "I never had any ringworm to give her!"
My sister didn't quite know what to say to that.
"Henry Winkler never gave you ringworm," my mother reproved me later. "You caught it all by yourself."
From Mrs. Goldberg's beagle"
"Possibly," said my mother."The point is you weren't very nice to Henry. He has every gith to be angry with you, since he did not give ringworm.I hear he's very famous now." This said with even greater reproof.
"I think he kissed me once at mrs. Goldberg's," I explained, "after we fed the beagle a biscuit. And I thought maybe that's how I got it."
"He still looks shorter than you." my mother said meaningfully.
And so that's how I missed out on marrying Henry Winkler - probably for good. I suspect I should really have remembered whether or not Henry Winkler did, in fact, kiss me after feeding the beagle a biscuit at Mrs. Goldbergs. But when you grow up with a superstar, you get jaded early.