HughE Dillon One-Shot: Marlee Matlin and Henry Winkler

The two actors visited Cherry Hill for annual book festival

Henry Winkler, best known as “The Fonz” on Happy Days, and Marlee Matlin, who won an Oscar for Children of a Lesser God, captivated more than 600 people who filled the Katz JCC—Lahn Social Hall in Cherry Hill on Sunday night. The two spoke as part of the 22nd Annual Bank of America Festival of Arts, Books and Culture Week, which runs through November 20th. Instead of offering tales of fame, Winkler and Matlin discussed their first meeting, their lifelong friendship and the challenges they’ve overcome to succeed in Hollywood. Marlee has been deaf since early childhood, and Henry is dyslexic, which he didn’t discover till he was 31. The two met when Marlee was just 12 years old, and Henry and his wife came to see a performance at her school, the Center on Deafness, in Illinois. They were really moved by her performance and became pen pals. Eventually Marlee moved to L.A. to pursue her career. The day after Marlee won an Oscar at age 21, movie columnist Rex Reed called it a sympathy win. Hurt, she retreated from acting and moved in with the Winklers for two years, slowly building her career. These days I’d say with her body of work, she has succeeded, and Rex Reed can eat his words. Henry Winkler is hysterical and tells a good story. He’s been writing a series of children’s books since 2003 about a fourth-grade boy, Hank Zipzer, who is dyslexic.