The Arty Semite

Henry Winkler on Playing a Porn Star and The Fonz

By Curt Schleier

Henry Winkler is on the phone. Finally. We missed our connection a couple of days earlier and by missed connection I mean he forgot to call. He had two performances of his new Broadway play, “The Performers,” that day — as though that should take priority — and The Forward got lost in the shuffle. Go figure.

Carol Rosseg

When next I heard from the Fonz (yeah, right, make believe you don’t know who that is), he left a contrite voicemail message that he was at the zoo with his grandson. But finally, from a cab on a way to a restaurant, there he was.

“The Performers” takes place on the night of the Adult Film Awards — the Oscars of the porn industry — and Winkler plays Chuck Wood, an aging Jewish star with a large schmekel up for an award. It’s a comeback role for Wood, unlike Winkler, who never went away. He’s been omnipresent as a writer, director, producer and of course actor, most famously of late for his recurring role on the hit TV series “Royal Pains.” While riding through midtown, Winkler spoke to The Arty Semite about the play, winning the Order of the British Empire and the synagogue his parents helped found.

Curt Schleier: Was making Chuck Wood Jewish your idea or was that in the original play?

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