05 Mar The Bronze Fonz
In August the latest in a series of recent public artworks in the U.S. honoring TV and movie characters was installed in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin: a life-size bronze statue of Arthur Fonzarelli– Fonzie, The Fonz–with his signature two thumbs up. Other statues, most sponsored by TV Land, have included Rocky Balboa at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Ralph Kramden at the Port Authority Bust Terminal in New York City, and Mary Richards tossing her tam skyward in Minneapolis.
The Fonz of course was a main character in the ABC sitcom Happy Days whose black motorcycle jacket was long ago enshrined at the Smithsonian alongside Archie and Edith Bunker’s chairs. Although shot in Los Angeles in the 1970s, Happy Days was set in Milwaukee in the 1950s, as was its spinoff Laverne & Shirley. Henry Winkler, who played Fonzie, and much of the rest of the Happy Days cast “returned” to Milwaukee for the bronze unveiling. A crowd showed up. Speeches were made. Photos were snapped. Now the statue is a point on the city’s tourist itinerary, along with brewery tours and museums and the pretty lakeshore.