Each year, in cooperation with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Americans for the Arts recognizes elected officials and legendary artists who have exhibited outstanding leadership in the advancement of the arts at the national, state, and local levels. The recipient of the 2004 Legendary Artist Award was Henry Winkler.
Henry Winkler is instantly recognizable from his role as “The Fonz” on the long-running 1970s TV series Happy Days, and the black leather jacket he wore on the show has hung in the Smithsonian since 1980. In addition to his successful acting career, he is an award-winning producer and director of family and children’s programming, including television specials dealing with adoption, child abuse, teenage drunk driving, and young people coping with divorce. He is deeply committed to children’s welfare and uses his visibility to work with numerous children’s groups. Mr. Winkler is a founder of the Children’s Action Network, an organization composed of entertainment industry leaders dedicated to raising the profile of children’s issues through the media. He recently wrote a four-book series for kids entitled Hank Zipzer: The Mostly True Confessions of the World’s Best Underachiever, inspired by his struggle with dyslexia throughout his education.