Bronze Fonz facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsBronze Fonz
|Artist||Gerald P. Sawyer|
|Dimensions||170 cm (65 in)|
The Bronze Fonz is a public artwork by American artist Gerald P. Sawyer, located on the Milwaukee Riverwalk in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Bronze Fonz depicts Henry Winkler as "The Fonz," a character in the 1970s television series Happy Days, which was set in Milwaukee.
The sculpture, made of bronze, depicts actor Henry Winkler as he appeared in his role as Arthur Fonzarelli (also known as "Fonzie" or "The Fonz"). Fonzarelli was an iconic character in the 1970s television show Happy Days, a sitcom about a family in 1950s–1960s Milwaukee. He stands in his usual attire, a leather jacket and jeans, and gives a two-handed thumbs up gesture, as he often did in Happy Days.
The statue is located on the Milwaukee Riverwalk, just south of Wells Street. It is accompanied by an inscription that lists donors who contributed to the Bronze Fonz project.
The Bronze Fonz was commissioned by Visit Milwaukee, a non-profit group with the purpose of promoting tourism and bringing new businesses to Milwaukee. Visit Milwaukee raised $85,000 to commission the statue. Over the decade prior to the statue's creation, other similar television character based bronze statues, commissioned by the cable television channel, TV Land, had been built in other cities and towns to portray such figures as Mary Tyler Moore (as Mary Richards from The Mary Tyler Moore Show) in Minneapolis and Jackie Gleason (as Ralph Kramden from The Honeymooners) outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan. However, TV Land scrapped its plans to build a Fonz statue after a change in their marketing strategy in 2007.
The sculpture was unveiled on August 18, 2008. Most of the Happy Days cast, including Winkler, Marion Ross, Tom Bosley, Erin Moran, Don Most, and Anson Williams, attended the dedication ceremony. Winkler referred to the statue as "unbelievable."
Mike Brenner, then a local gallery owner and executive director of Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN), objected to the statue, which was originally planned to be located at the intersection of Wisconsin and Water Streets, a prominent downtown site. He threatened to close his gallery and resign his position in MARN if "that stupid Fonzie sculpture" was erected there. Brenner received death threats for speaking out against the Bronze Fonz, and reposted several on his web site. The CEO of the Milwaukee Art Museum, David Gordon, along with Milwaukee Journal Sentinel arts critic Mary-Louise Schumacher and other Milwaukee arts dignitaries, also opposed the statue, which ultimately was erected instead at the Riverwalk site. Brenner nevertheless closed his gallery in May 2008, and opened a Milwaukee microbrewery.
Bronze Fonz Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.