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The Fonz is still the coolest.
We’re told that “Happy Days” star Henry Winkler took time to call a childhood neighbor and wish her a happy 101st birthday after he heard the woman’s granddaughter was trying to reach him.
Natalie Lebovits-Zaidenberg, the events sales manager at Tavern on the Green, tells us that her grandmother Florence Keller lived in the same building as Winkler around 1955.
“He was about 10-ish and he had a big crush on her… That’s the story I heard growing up,” Lebovits-Zaidenberg told us.
She added, “My grandmother has Alzheimer’s, but whenever she watches TV and he comes on, she goes, ‘It’s Henry,’ and gets very excited … Sometimes she doesn’t remember us so it’s really special.”
Lebovits-Zaidenberg shared her story about Winkler and her grandmother on the private Facebook group PR Czars — which has a number of high-profile publicists and editors as members — asking if someone could connect them for Keller’s 101st birthday.
We hear someone in Winkler’s family got in touch with the big-hearted actor, 75, and he coordinated a time to chat with Keller and the rest of the family through Lebovits-Zaidenberg.
“He called and he was lovely,” Lebovits-Zaidenberg told us. “He just said he wished her a happy birthday, and said he appreciates that we have followed his career this whole time. They spoke for about five minutes. We were all excited.”
She added, “He’s ‘the Fonz.’ It was just so cool. It was a story I grew up with my whole life that was a great NYC story. But to see it be real was very special.”
Lebovits-Zaidenberg is also grateful for the online group that made it happen. “It was really the power of people coming together. Everyone wanted to help.”
The Fonz’s coolness was repeated by group members. “He’s easily the nicest celebrity I ever worked with,” said one. “I will tell you I’ve interviewed Henry twice and he is one of the nicest people on the planet,” said another.
Keller isn’t the only person who Winkler has unexpectedly surprised with a call. During the height of the pandemic — when people were tuning into Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s briefings — the pol said Winkler called him.
“I mentioned to someone that I was a fan of the Fonz from ‘Happy Days,’ ” Cuomo wrote in his book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” “and the next thing I know, Henry Winkler called.”
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