As befits a guy who’s become America’s favorite doting grandpa in the decades since his smoldering “Italian” good looks and riding leathers caused ABC to fret about Arthur Fonzarelli’s wayward influence, Henry Winkler told Seth Meyers all about his super-cool grandson. On Monday’s Late Night, Winkler, who voices a decidedly uncool middle manager monster on the Pixar sequel series Monsters At Work as well as showing up in the flesh in Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, stressed that he’s no longer the coolest Winkler, instead bestowing the honor on grandson, Ace. “Did you say his name was Ace?,” asked Meyers delightedly, noting that that’s the one nickname even cooler than “The Fonz.” The ever-beaming Winkler agreed heartily, before going on to extol the home run-hitting prowess of the seemingly Fonzie-imbued lad.
Winkler also said, with a grandfatherly pride warm enough to melt the stoniest of hearts, that Ace (for that is his name) went out for Halloween dressed as Winkler’s most famous character, slicked back hair, fake leather jacket and all. “My heart fell out of my body,” confessed Winkler regarding the sight of his now 47-year-old role being passed down to his progeny. As to whether the Fonz will turn little Ace into the juvenile delinquent that the ABC brass feared when they made Winkler wear a puce golf jacket unless he was actively in the presence of his Happy Days motorcycle, well, the Emmy winning national treasure and children’s book author didn’t seem all that worried. (He did bust out his impression of the late Garry Marshall kvetching to ABC that Fonzie could get hurt without his protective leather biker gear, which saw the Fonz’s bike gradually and inexplicably wheeled inside every Happy Days indoor set for a while.)
The Arrested Development and Barry star offered Meyers some grandfatherly COVID advice as well, although the host could probably have gleaned Winkler’s responsible vaccination stance by the Dr. Anthony Fauci needlepoint pillow perched reverently behind him over Zoom. Noting that he’d grown up in the time of polio—which effectively no longer exists since Fox News and Facebook weren’t around to spread virulently irresponsible misinformation at the time—Winkler initially showed up wearing a face mask, pointing out that Californians are under a resurrected indoor mask mandate. You know, since, in this benighted time, (safely vaccinated) right-wing conspiracists scaremongering their viewers not to get vaccinated do, unfortunately, exist. Meyers was polite enough not to reference Winkler’s recent online run-in with former co-star and TV nephew Scott Baio over the latter’s ongoing mockery of basic, civic-minded COVID precautions, but if the erstwhile Chachi and accused sexual harasser was listening, here’s hoping the noted conservative and anti-vaxxer ding-dong feels suitably chastened. Look, Scottie, Henry’s not angry, he’s just disappointed.