The “Bronze Fonz” Statue of Fonzie from Happy Days
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin (address: 100 E. Wells St.)
When to visit: Anytime, but daylight hours make for better photos
Time needed: 5-10 minutes
Website: Bronze Fonz Wikipedia (unofficial)
Now this is cool: a life-size bronze statue of the Fonz from Happy Days! The sitcom character played by Henry Winkler (Arthur Fonzarelli, or “The Fonz”) has been memorialized in downtown Milwaukee, because the show was set there.
Henry himself has visited the statue so it has the personal seal of approval!
The “Bronze Fonz” can be found along the Milwaukee Riverwalk on E. Wells Street.
It’s oddly located right next to a cheap Chinese restaurant, so make sure to frame your photos to keep the Chinese place out and to get the river and buildings behind it instead.
The statue is painted and features Fonzie giving the double thumbs-up. It’s well-done, although, when you get close, the eyes and teeth are kinda intense.
History of the Bronze Fonz Statue in Milwaukee
The Bronze Fonz was commissioned by the local tourism board, Visit Milwaukee, in the 2000s.
It makes sense – why not create an homage to one of the city’s most notable pop culture moments? Just as Minneapolis did with Mary Tyler Moore statue, for instance?
In August of 2008, the statue was unveiled on the Milwaukee Riverwalk. Created by artist Gerald P. Sawyer, it’s a life-size statue that allows visitors to pose right next to it as if Fonzie was there in person. Of course, it’s free to visit the statue.
Henry Winkler himself, and much of the Happy Days cast, appeared at the dedication ceremony. Fonz was excited about his bronze likeness, which wears a leather jacket.
Winkler said at the time, “To see it in real life and that it exists it’s just unbelievable. It really is.”
Last February, the statue was removed for maintenance, but it was back in place a month later. Some chemical compounds were added to the surface to keep the color on Fonzie’s jacket and jeans from fading.
How tall is Henry Winkler, by the way? It turns out the Emmy-winning actor (most recently known for his work in the Bill Hader comedy Barry) is only 5’6″ tall. That means you could tower over his statue if you are above average height.
And how old is Fonzie? As of 2023, Winkler is 78 years old, having been born in October 1945.
Lots of statues aren’t built until after someone passes away, so it’s cool that Milwaukee has this pop culture attraction while the man himself can enjoy it along with all of the classic show’s fans.
Will There Be a Laverne & Shirley Statue?
A spin-off of Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley was another show set in Milwaukee. Some have wondered if they might see a Laverne & Shirley statue someday, featuring the show’s stars, Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams.
It turns out that such a statue has been discussed, though no concrete plans currently exist. Marquette instructor David Fantle told a news station that a local business wanted to pursue a Laverne & Shirley tribute a few years ago, but the idea fell through.
Stay tuned to see if anyone else steps up and attempts to create a statue for Laverne & Shirley.