January 26, 2008 -- THE Fonz will be returning to Milwaukee later this year - permanently, and in bronze.
A statue of Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli, the leather-jacketed biker from "Happy Days," will be erected in the city where the TV sitcom was set, now that local groups have raised the $85,000 needed to do it, civic leaders said yesterday.
Henry Winkler, who played Fonzie during the show's run from 1974 to 1984, called the "Bronze the Fonz" project "a phenomenal compliment."
"It's not often you have a dream when you're 7 lying in your bed, you get to live your dream out and then someone is going to erect a life-size statue of your creation," Winkler said this week.
Winkler was in Milwaukee yesterday when organizers officially announced the money had been raised. Plans call for dedicating the statue around Labor Day, likely downtown along the Milwaukee River.
Two booster groups, VISIT Milwaukee and Spirit Milwaukee, spearheaded the fundraising.
Among the donors was TV Land, which has sponsored similar statues including Bob Newhart in Chicago and Mary Tyler Moore in Minneapolis.
Other supporters included a bakery that sold thumbs-up cookies and a fan who established a "Bronze the Fonz" group on Facebook.
Ron Howard co-starred in "Happy Days."