About a year ago, I blogged about my chance meeting with Henry Winkler at Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993. The short version is that I was waiting for the parade to roll by, when my college roommate and I noticed a circle of people huddling around someone walking down the street. We elbowed our way in to see that it was Henry Winkler.
When I got in front of him, I could think of nothing better to say, "Mr. Winkler, sir, may I shake your hand?"
He replied, warmly, "It's good to see you."
That story has become legend among my friends and coworkers. And today I had my shot at redemption.
Because of our involvement in the Bronze the Fonz project -- we designed the Web site -- I was lucky enough to be invited to the V.I.P. reception at The Pfister. I dragged along my reluctant and extremely pregnant wife, and we arrived just as the "Happy Days" motorcade rolled up.
Visit Milwaukee's Dave Fantle, who has led this entire effort and served as Winkler's handler today, stopped to say hello. Next thing we knew, we were riding up the elevator with the Fonz.
Of course, Winkler was far more interested in my wife's belly than me, and he promptly gave it a rub and said it'll be a Virgo. "Now we know the baby will be cool," said Velia, not even offended that this stranger gave her a squeeze.
I told Winkler that we designed the statue's promo site, and he gave my arm a friendly rub but didn't really say much. People all over the place were fawning over him, and for a change, I didn't feel like sticking my foot in my mouth by blabbering incessantly.
When we got to the seventh floor, our mutual friend Gino Salamone was there, waiting. He snapped a photo of the three of us, and I took my shot:
"It's good to see you," I said to Winkler in almost the same tone as he uttered those words 15 years ago.
Of course, I spaced out on the opportunity to tell Winkler how much I liked him on "Arrested Development." The best I could do was to thank him for coming to Milwaukee, and that we all appreciated seeing him.
Good, but not great, Tarnoff.
That out of the way and ready to take things up a notch, my business partner Jeff and I quickly made a bee line to Erin Moran. The caption for that photo practically wrote itself on the spot: Chatches love Joanie.
Inside the room, I watched many of Milwaukee's movers and shakers get giddy with excitement. However, most forgot their cameras.
That meant person after person asked me to snap their photos. Wauwatosa's Mayor Jill Didier asked. State Fair's Randy Prasse asked. East Town's Kate Borders asked. The County Parks' Sue Black asked -- three times.
And I was more than happy to oblige.
It's not like "Happy Days" was my favorite show or anything -- though I think I had a Fonzie action figure. But in a way, to see the whole cast (minus Ron Howard, Al Molinaro and Scott Baio) felt really special. All of the cast was extremely friendly and accommodating, though it must've felt like shell-shock to be swarmed by this many people -- 25 years after the show went off the air.
Garry Marshall and Winkler said a few words (see below: Winkler was really craving the tiny Reuben sandwiches, apparently) before the "kids," as Marshall called the cast, sat down to sign lithographs.
Debate over public art aside, this has to be one of the funnier days I've experienced in Milwaukee in a long time.
Yeah, I also heard that some little thing called the Marquette Interchange opened for business today.
But that's not what Milwaukee was talking about today. See for yourself in this gallery of photos from the event.
1 comment about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published May 21, 2013
Preparing to hang three photos I took in 1997, I noticed something amazing about the second photo that I had never noticed before: the building in the center of the frame is CityCenter. The viewfinder is looking right at our new office suite. When I shot that photo, I had no idea what that building was. It just looked cool.
Published May 17, 2013
I watched the series finale of "The Office" last night, but before I did, I had to blow through the previous five episodes gathering dust on my DVR. In the end, it was worth the night of marathon television, but when I think about the entire final season of "30 Rock," also unwatched on my DVR, I wonder when I'll get around to it.
Published May 15, 2013
Hidden in plain sight is a clothing store you have to see to believe. Frieschskys, 788 N. Jefferson St., isn't actually that special to look at. But when you step out of the elevator on the seventh floor of the nondescript office building, it doesn't take long to realize that something special does await you.
Published May 13, 2013
Plenty is written about baseball's jerks. I've even met some of them. But rarely do people talk about how nice some players are. They may not have been the best players, but if personality counts (which it doesn't), they'd be in the Hall of Fame.
Published May 9, 2013
Shelby Croft was following the playbook for most television reporters. She jumped from market to market, position to position, ultimately serving as a main anchor in Salt Lake. But Croft knew there was something more in life than market size. She moved to Milwaukee to get closer to home. She got married, had a daughter ... then got divorced. A single mom with a high-profile job, Croft's story is an interesting one.
Published May 3, 2013
Last night at about 3 a.m., I woke up to go to the bathroom. I used my phone to light my way, so as soon as my eyes adjusted, I noticed that my mom had sent me a death notice. My friend and neurosurgeon, Dr. Spencer Block - the guy who did my back surgery in 2011 - had died yesterday at age 51.
Published May 3, 2013
The Brewers should've won the game Wednesday, but John Axford blew a two-run lead in the eighth inning. Sitting close to the field, it was the first time I'd seen and heard the vitriol from fans around me. They booed him. A lot.
Published April 29, 2013
It's pretty thrilling to get on stage in front of a live band, facing a cheering audience, putting your personal spin on beloved cover tunes. The idea that you could win $1,000, studio recording time and a gig at Red Rock Saloon is practically gravy, right? The Red Rockstar II competition runs for four weeks in May, kicking off this Wednesday.
Published April 24, 2013
If I was a less verbose writer, I could sum up the 2013 Jaguar XJ in one word: perfection. But that wouldn't make for much of a review, and after a month with the XJ that Fields Jaguar in Waukesha loaned me, I have so much more to say. I'll start with this: if you're the kind of person who can afford to spend $73,000 on a car, and you require something with four seats, this is the car you should buy. Run, don't walk, to Fields Jaguar and buy it. Now.
Published April 24, 2013
This spring, the American Cancer Society is kicking off a massive project to sign up, track and study 300,000 adults for decades, in hopes of curing various types of cancer. It's not the first time the society has undertaken this. Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3) follows CPS-1 and CPS-2, and the results of the first two programs served to advance cancer knowledge and treatment by leaps and bounds. The Milwaukee goal for CPS-3 is 2,000 people.