The enduring Henry Winkler

Henry Winkler speaks, at his door
Henry Winkler speaks, at his door 06:55

If there's anyone you'd want to see during a pandemic, it's actor-writer-producer-director and all-around-nice-guy Henry Winkler … even if it's through a glass door.

How is he doing? "I am like everybody else in this country: I bet we have gone through every exact emotion, all without knowing it, together," he said.

He's quarantining in his home in Los Angeles, a spot that's still peaceful despite construction nearby.

Correspondent Tracy Smith, speaking to Winkler through a glass door, said, "I feel like I'm admiring you through a shop window!"

"My sweater?" he gestured.

Correspondent Tracy Smith speaks to actor Henry Winkler, behind glass.   CBS News

He was comfortable opening his door a little as Smith stepped back. Somehow, Winkler has always seemed comfortable, in whatever situation or role he's taken on.

His latest: acting teacher Gene Cousineau in the hit HBO series, "Barry." In a show that's part comedy, part tragedy, Bill Hader plays a hit man who decides to try acting.  Winkler is his beloved, but self-absorbed, mentor.

Barry: Season 2 | Official Trailer ft. Bill Hader | HBO by HBO on YouTube

Last month, the cast and crew thought they were going to start production on season three.

"We were at the table, reading the first four scripts," Winkler said. "And we were gonna come back the next day and read three and four. And went home. And never went back."

Production shut down on March 18.

Smith asked, "Have you kept in touch with other members of the cast?"

"All the time. We have a group chat and send funny things, 'I am filled with anxiety' things, 'hello' things, 'I'm hugging you' things."

To the "Barry" cast, he's a father figure of sorts. But to so many of us, Winkler will always be the coolest teenager on the block: Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli, The Fonz, from the TV comedy "Happy Days," which premiered in 1974, and made Winkler world-famous.

All these years later, on Halloween, one of Winkler's five grandkids actually dressed up as the Fonz.

"I didn't know he was going to do this," Winkler said. "When I walked in the house, my heart flew out of my body. If my heart could leave my body and just soar, it would've."

But now, he and his grandkids have to keep their distance. They visit with him from the driveway. "Not being able to touch them, to hug them, to squeeze them may be worst of all. May be worst of all."

A socially-distancing sort of interview.  CBS News

Still, he knows he's lucky to be stuck inside with a partner, Stacey, his wife of more than 40 years.

Smith asked, "Have you learned anything new about each other during this lockup together?"

"No," Henry replied. "But I will say, the other day, honestly, I said to Stacey, 'I'm so proud of us. I am so proud because this is tough.' You know, I don't know that two people were meant to be together 24 hours a day. We have gotten a rhythm and we get along so well."

And what have they been doing? "Jigsaw puzzle, walking the dogs, binge-watching, reading Daniel Silva, eating. Ohhh, a lotta good eating!"

He's also been co-writing another in his series of kids books, and giving pep talks to elementary students studying at home.

Winkler said he didn't read a book until he was 31 years old. "I am very dyslexic," he said. "But I mean I am dyslexic to the point of distraction. I had a Zoom meeting early this morning and I couldn't figure out, I didn't see what to do."

"Wow, even now, despite all that you've overcome?" asked Smith.

"You never get better. And every book I've read, I have on the shelf as a triumph."

The Emmy-winning actor was preparing to film the third season of the hit HBO series "Barry," when COVID-19 put production on hold - but he's not exactly sitting still. CBS News

And there's another triumph we should mention: In 2018 Winkler won a primetime Emmy, his first, for his work in "Barry."

"And she's got wings! So, in the morning, you never know where you're going to find her!" he laughed. "But what a thing. I am, for all time, an Emmy-winner."

 And maybe, at this particular time, Henry Winkler is a comfort – a reminder that good things can, and will, endure.

Smith said, "You got Fonz when you were 27. And Cousineau, the part on 'Barry,' when you were 72."

"Unbelievable," he said.

"Beautiful symmetry?"

"Unbelievable. If I did not understand gratitude before that, just that I had a dream that I would not be a flash-in-the-pan. I had a dream that I would just continue, and I did, through the help of some wonderful friends, through tenacity. Amazing!"

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Story produced by Jay Kernis. Editor: Steve Tyler. 

See also from 2017: 

Sunday Profile: Henry Winkler 09:01