Happy Days icon Henry Winkler almost played Grease's Danny but he turned it down

Lottie O'Neill August 9, 2022
Happy Days icon Henry Winkler almost played Grease's Danny but he turned it down


John Travolta, known for his tight jeans and leather jacket in Grease almost never played the iconic part of Danny Zucko – as Henry Winkler was eyed up for the role.

It’s reported that Happy Days legend Henry Winkler, who honed the part of Fonzie, almost became the famous greaser in the musical hit.

It’s hard to imagine Danny and Sandy’s love story, or epic musical number Summer Nights, with someone else other than Travolta.

Henry Winkler turned down Grease role

Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

The Fonzie star had been on TV for a few seasons before Grease came out in cinemas. Winkler had already become recognizable as the iconic greaser in Happy Days.

Despite the experience of Fonzie in Happy Days – who has similar style and setting to the Grease role – Winkler apparently wasn’t up for it.

He told AARP Magazine: “I turned down the lead role in Grease.

“Didn’t want to be typecast. But you’re typecast anyway. And it’s not now that I’m, like, ‘Oh, I should’ve done the role.’ It’s that I turned it down intellectually instead of instinctually.

“Listen to your gut — it knows everything. Your head knows only some things.

“So I went home and had an orange juice. Travolta went home and bought a plane.”

Henry couldn’t ‘sing’

But the star, who continued acting in great movies and TV shows like Parks and Rec, added more detail on The Rachel Ray Show after.

He explained although he had some dance moves, he didn’t have the ability to sing.

Henry also added that he felt John Travolta should have taken the part anyway. So no hard feelings, then?

He told Rachel that he thinks Travolta is a “lovely, lovely, man”. Henry also denied rumours of there ever being a rift between himself and the Grease star.

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Lottie is the Head of Audience for Entertainment and Gaming, working with the teams on HITC, Reality Titbit, The Focus and Freshered. She is passionate about news being accessible to everyone, and focuses on bringing audiences quality content that they enjoy. She loves the art of storytelling, whether that be news, movies or heavy hardback fiction.