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Henry Winkler Killed Her Career During Happy Days Role

Rhonda Shear leads a multi-million dollar business in which she designs lingerie. But even though she has found success in the intimates industry. She wonders what her life would have looked like if she could have been a sitcom actress.

Join Facts Verse as we hear what Rhonda Shear recently told a major news outlet about her time on the set of Happy Days . And how her acting career took a significant hit after being fired.

Rhonda Shear Tells Her Story

The 63-years old entrepreneur and former television personality recently published a memoir entitled Up All Night: From Hollywood Bombshell To Lingerie Mogul, which discusses her time in Hollywood working as a comedienne.

The New Orleans, Lousiana-native’s first audition was when she was 23. Shear was trying to land a role on the 1950s-themed sitcom Happy Days, which ran from 1974 to 1984.

She landed her big break when she cast to play Henry Winkler, aka The Fonz’s girlfriend, in 1979. Shear given the role after impressing the producers and casting directors with her wit and looks. But she claims that Winkler eventually cost her sitcom career.

Winkler denies these claims, however, and maintains that he wasn’t involved in the decision to fire her.

Shear Insists It Was All Winkler

Shear told Fox News that during her time on the set, the whole cast got to know her. She says that she even went on a few dates with Don Most at one point.

Happy Days filmed on Fridays, and there would be a dress rehearsal every Thursday. This meant that Shear and company had the whole week to rehearse before delivering their lines in front of a live audience.

Shear told Fox that she felt overjoyed when offered the chance to appear in a commercial for a fried chicken franchise during the same time she was on Happy Days. It meant she would receive more money to live in Hollywood on her own. And far away from all of her family and friends back home.

That ad taped on a Thursday, which would have been the same day as a one of the dress rehearsals. When she called up the casting director and producer, she received the go-ahead by everyone to go ahead and do it. Seeing as how she had received permission, she felt like she was in the clear. By doing the commercial, Rhonda not only receive more money but she’d also entitled to some residuals.

She was 24 when she landed the commercial gig and was just trying to do her best to make a living and survive in Tinsel Town. By scoring a commercial job, you get paid as long as it runs.

By securing the blessing of the crew, she figured that everyone was going to be fine with her activities. But there was one individual that hadn’t given her the Ok. That person was, of course, Henry Winkler.

Rhonda Shear claimed that Winkler not thrilled about her doing the commercial. Something about it just didn’t sit well with the leather-clad, bad-boy star of the series.

When she showed up on Friday – tape day – and went to her dressing room, she discovered that her name was no longer on the door. Instead, someone else’s name had slapped on the door. She then walked around the set looking for someone to get answers from. But everyone seemed like they were avoiding her.

Finally, she came across someone that was willing to give her the scoop on what had happened. Apparently, when Shear didn’t show up for the dress rehearsal on Thursday, Winkler had flipped out and requested that the girl that standing in for her immediately given a Screen Actors Guild membership and handed over the role instead.

Shear shocked when she heard this news. She knew that Winkler was the star of the show, and thus he had all the power. After the news sunk in, Shear was mortified and in tears.

She then asked to see Winkler in his dressing room. Thinking that this would be her chance to convince him that her latest commercial job wouldn’t interfere any further with her appearance on the show, she made her way to Winkler’s quarters.

Rhonda Shear claims that Winkler then sat her down and proceeded to give her a long lecture. He told her that if she was a serious actress, then she wouldn’t have ever agreed to do the commercial.

Naturally, Shear then told Henry that she had first received permission from everyone else.

Winkler snapped back by saying that she hadn’t gotten permission from him. He then walked out and left Shear with her costume in her hand. She claims that from moment onward, she never heard back from Happy Days again.

Henry Winkler’s Take

When Fox reached out to Winkler about the alleged incident, he claimed that he didn’t recall things as Shear had described.

He told the outlet that he had little recollection of events that happened nearly four decades ago. But if Shear truly did receive permission to miss dress rehearsal from the executive producer and the director. Jerry Shaw, then it wouldn’t have been his place to fire her. He further claims that he wouldn’t even have had the ability to do so even if he wanted to.

Winkler added that he probably did tell her that she shouldn’t have booked the commercial during the same time as the rehearsal. Seeing as how there were only four half-days of rehearsal time before they taped an episode in front of a live studio audience. But that was as far as anything likely went.

Winkler further said that at no time did he ever have the authority nor the power to fire anyone when he was Happy Days. And that it would have never occurred to him to ask that an actor be given the ax.

Regardless of Winkler’s take on things, Shear claimed that her allegedly rough ending on the sitcom put a wedge between her and the series’ creator Garry Marshall, who was well known for working on several other top-billed sitcoms.

Rhonda Shear told Fox that her life’s dream was to do a Hollywood sitcom. But that dream pretty much fizzled after getting fired from Happy Days. She went on to say that even though everyone thinks of Winkler as being a great guy. And that he had been relatively nice to her prior to that fateful day, she still feels that his alleged actions went a little too far.

Here’s a direct quote that pretty much sums up Shear’s take on things. She said, and I quote, “as a young person who was trying to live out her dreams, I thought [Winkler’s behavior] was pretty horrible”.

She Went On To Find Success On TV

Despite what Shear claims happened to her, Shear went on to find success elsewhere. Before appearing on Happy Days, Shear had posed for Playboy in 1977 when several of the publication’s photographers visited her hometown of New Orleans looking for models to appear in an issue of the magazine titled ‘Girls of the New South’.

Shear had already signed with a modeling agency at that time. And was more than willing to make an appearance in Playboy so long as she was allowed to keep her clothes on. Although this request might have sounded a bit strange considering the magazine’s reputation, it wasn’t the last time that Shear collaborated with Playboy.

During her first shoot, Shear says that she was wearing a dress that could have belonged to Scarlett O’Hara. She was completely clothed, and it was just a little photo, but everyone around her was naked. From that point on, she and Playboy developed what she calls a ‘great love affair’ without nudity. The photographers were always respectful to her and her unorthodox terms.

In contrast with how she views she treated by Happy Days, Shear says that Playboy never did a thing to hurt her career.

Shear appeared in three layouts for the magazine, including during the years that her career and fame was it’s peak while she was starring as a somewhat ditzy hostess in the comedy series Up All Night from 1991 to 1995.

Shear wanted to show the world that it was possible for a woman to be both funny and sexy. Even though some people are comfortable with nudity or appearing on camera scantily clad, she never has been. She stuck to guns and never compromised, and for that, she has no regrets. Shear did her last Playboy layout when she was 36.

Shear’s Up All Night Experience

Touching on her experience auditioning for Up All Night, Shear says that everyone showed up wearing suits and jackets. She, however, showed up wearing a skintight spandex dress holding a blow dryer, and during the meeting, she was blow-drying her hair. At that point, she was 35 and had been in Hollywood since she was 23.

She took a chance hoping that it would pay off. Rhonda wanted to go big or go home, and ultimately her efforts paid off because she landed the part. She went on to do 450 shows that still hold up to this day. Shear says that she is very proud of her work and reminisces about what they were able to get away with on the series back then.

So, what do you think? Did Henry Winkler really hurt Rhonda Shear’s career as she claims, or do you think that she’s exaggerating about what kind of power he had on the set of Happy Days? Let us know what your thoughts are in the comments section down below.

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