'Happy Days' star Henry Winkler responds to Scott Baio's criticism of cast's Democrat fundraiser

The cast of Happy Days reunited for a virtual fundraiser for the Democrat Party of Wisconsin in October. Most of the actors came together to support the Democrat ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. One cast member, however, was not in favor of that decision and made his objections known at the time.

At the time, it was no surprise that well-known anti-Trump Hollywood liberals like Ron Howard and Henry Winkler signed on to participate. Howard frequently posted his opinions on social media like so many others in the entertainment industry calling the November presidential election the most important one in his lifetime. Scott Baio is a loyal Trump supporter, though, and he declined to take part in the fundraiser. He criticized the decision of the actors to use the show in a political way.

The hook of the fundraiser was that Happy Days, a sitcom set in Milwaukee in the 1950s, is an all-American classic. Wisconsin Democrats were eager to make the connection with Milwaukee in their fundraising efforts. Baio rightly criticized the liberal actors for dragging the memory of the show into politics to raise money for Democrats. Henry Winkler and Scott Baio made their names as actors on that show. Both actors are still referred to as their characters’ names even to this day. Fonzie and Chachi are cultural touchstones for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. According to Winkler, the bond between the older Winkler and the younger Baio was real and nothing has changed that.

It’s been over three decades since Winkler took on the role of Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli, the doting older cousin of Charles “Chachi” Arcola (Baio) in the beloved ABC show about the Cunningham family, which ran from 1974 to 1984.

The two sitcom stars had the opportunity to reunite with the rest of the cast at a Democratic fundraiser held in Wisconsin in October. Many, including Winkler, participated in the event, but Baio, a vocal President Trump supporter, was noticeably absent.

At the time, Baio dubbed the event “a little bizarre,” given that its purpose was to “promote” then-Democratic nominees Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, the actor told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo. Winkler caught up with Fox News this week, when he made it clear that the bond struck between Fonz and Chachi wasn’t just manufactured for the small screen.

“Scott is my family,” Winkler, 75, told Fox News in a written statement. “But he has his political life and I have mine.”

Baio said his opinion that the show should remain non-political had nothing to do with his relationships with the other cast members. It’s just business, it’s not personal.

“Invoking the show’s name to support a candidate for office was just wrong, in my opinion. That doesn’t change how much I love Donny, Henry [Winkler] and the rest of the crew from ‘Happy Days.’ I just wish they had thought this all the way through,” Baio continued.

Donnie Most was less generous than Winkler, though Winkler’s comment was brief. Most said that he’s as entitled to express his political opinion as Baio is. He conflates his personal political opinion with the reputation of the show, though. Baio’s objection was to preserve the show from this kind of political fall-out.

“I knew that he would not be a part of this because of the differences in political views. So it was not a question of whether he would be a part of it or not. That was a given,” Most, 67, told Fox News. “But you know, Scott and I, we played golf together. It’s been a while now, about a couple of years, but we’ve stayed in touch somewhat. But in the last year, I haven’t seen him.”

Most went on to say that it was a “little disappointing” to hear Baio’s harsh words about the fundraiser.

“I felt it was way out of line,” Most admitted. “I really did. Because we are entitled to our opinions. And we were all as a group uniting to do something, just like he proposes his views. He was part of the show and people are aware of him because of that show. And he’s using that as a way to present his views. We’re entitled to do the same. And we were all united in the way we felt.”

No one liked Ralph Malph anyway.

Despite Most’s grumblings, it’s a nice kumbaya story at Christmas. Live and let live. The castmates’ little family sounds a lot like most real families today. Most families consist of members with contrasting political views. Family is more important than politics. Prioritize accordingly.

David Strom 6:41 PM on September 26, 2022
David Strom 4:41 PM on September 26, 2022