March 07, 1994 12:00 PM

“I’d probably have a bit of trouble getting into those jeans now,” says Henry Winkler, 48 and a tad paunchy. But, aaaay, the star of Fox’s Monty can still slip easily into the swaggering persona of Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli, the Brylcreemed biker who jump-started ABC’s Happy Days in 1974 and helped keep it purring for 10 seasons. Set in a fuzzy-warm ’50s Milwaukee, the retro-sitcom ostensibly starred Ron Howard as nerdy high schooler Richie Cunningham, but the Fonz got most of the fan mail. In 1980, Howard, itchy to launch his career as a director, left the show. Winkler took center stage, and Fonzie went upscale, first as co-owner of Arnold’s Drive-in and then as dean of boys at a vocational high school. How uncool! But his fans haven’t held it against him. To this day, says Winkler, “There isn’t one place I go that I’m not recognized.”

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