John Lennon visited the set of Happy Days in 1974. This was at the height of his “Lost Weekend,” which was really just an 18 month-bender following his separation from Yoko Ono. But John took a rest from all his partying to take his son Julian to see The Fonz and Richie Cunningham on one of the most famous TV sets at the time. However, the cast of Happy Days imagined the ex-Beatle to be a bit different.
Henry Winkler says John Lennon was shy until this song was mentioned
During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Winkler explained what it was like having John and Julian visit the set of Happy Days. Initially, Winkler thought John was timid. However, once Winkler started talking about a particular song, John became very talkative.
“He was so shy,” Winkler told Kimmel, “and I didn’t know how to get into a conversation with John Lennon. And then I just started talking about his-the Imagine-the album that he made solo, and there’s a cut on it called ‘Mother,’ which is like a primal scream. I started talking to him about that, and he opened like a flower. It was amazing.”
Saying “Mother” as a primal scream is a good way of describing it. The song is heartbreaking. It opens up Imagine and ends with John screaming, “Mama don’t go, Daddy come home!” Many fans assumed that John directed the song at his parents, who abandoned him as a child, but John said it’s really about every parent. So it’s no surprise that John would get passionate talking about “Mother” with Winkler.
Winkler later met Julian again and Paul McCartney
Winkler explained to Kimmel that 10 years later, Julian had a hit. When Julian performed on Solid Gold, he came to visit Winkler.
“On Paramount lot, they did Solid Gold, and I had my offices there, we were doing MacGyver, and I got a knock on the door, and he said, ‘I don’t know if you remember me.’ I said, ‘I think I will,’” Winkler said.
Winkler continued to say that the only Beatle he didn’t get to meet was George Harrison. He met Paul McCartney on Lexington Avenue in New York City. “We’re walking down the street, Stacey and I, my wife and I, and Paul is-and we stop, and he goes, ‘The Fonz,’” Winkler gushed. “And then it was so great because we had this conversation, a woman came out of a flower shop, gave us two roses, and then said, ‘Could I stand here?’ He said, ‘We’re talking.’”
“Then he gave me his phone number,” Winkler continued excitedly. “He said, ‘We should get together.’” Kimmel asked if Winkler called Paul. Winkler said he did, but Paul never answered.
Ron Howard says that it was like a religious experience for Henry Winkler to meet John Lennon
When John visited the Happy Days set, Ron Howard, who played Richie Cunningham on the show, was also star-struck but not compared to Winkler. Howard said it was like a religious experience for Winkler to meet John.
Speaking to NME about the experience, Howard said, “Yes – his son really wanted to see our set and meet Henry [Winkler, The Fonz]. Henry was desperate to meet John Lennon, too. I had nothing but admiration for John Lennon but I was nothing quite as fervent – for Henry it was a practically religious experience. I just said hello – it was all over in 10 or 15 minutes.”
For whatever reason John showed up to the show’s set, he left a lasting impression of the cast of Happy Days. But who knew The Fonze could get so star-struck?
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