Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Podcast Tuesday: "Prelude to the Afternoon of the Fonz"

Leslie Browne and Henry Winkler on Happy Days.

Think ballet is strictly for sissies? Well, think again, bucko! The toughest guy in Milwaukee, auto mechanic and daredevil Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler), is about to show you that ballet is actually very cool. That's right. In the Season 5 Happy Days episode "Do You Want to Dance?" from May 1978, our favorite Midwestern greaser dates a ballet dancer named Colleen (real life ballerina Leslie Browne) and even helps her demonstrate some elegant moves to her students. Between makeout sessions, Colleen shows Fonzie that there's more to culture than Bill Haley records and motorcycle magazines. But there's a problem, you see. Colleen has dreams that may take her far away from Milwaukee. Will Fonzie stand in the way of those dreams?

Roger Ebert said that he was very rarely moved by love but that he was often moved by sacrifice. That's what "Do You Want to Dance?" is really all about. Fonzie wants to keep Colleen near him, but he knows deep down that she belongs in New York if she's going to reach her full potential as a dancer. I guess she couldn't do that in Milwaukee. I know this wasn't intentional, but a hidden theme of "Do You Want to Dance?" is that Milwaukee is a cultural wasteland where dreams go to die.

Anyway, my cohost and I discuss this episode (and a bunch of other stuff) in detail in the latest installment of These Days Are Ours: A Happy Days Podcast. You can find our latest show right here. Enjoy!