From Guest Star to Leading Man: How Tom Hanks’ ‘Happy Days’ Appearance Launched His Career

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks is one of the most respected and accomplished actors of our time, known for his roles in films such as Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, and Cast Away

However, before he became the household name he is today, Hanks made a guest appearance on the popular sitcom, Happy Days, which ended up having a major impact on his career.

In 1982, Hanks guest starred in the episode “A Little Case of Revenge” as Dr. Dwayne Twitchell, a former schoolmate of Henry Winkler’s character, Fonzie. 

In the episode, Dr. Twitchell is a karate expert and holds a grudge against Fonzie since the third grade. He finally gets the chance to exact his revenge on Arthur Fonzarelli.

While this guest role may have been small, it had a big impact on Hanks’ career. 

He credits his appearance on Happy Days with getting him his first leading film role, in Ron Howard’s 1984 hit Splash. The film was a box office hit and helped establish Hanks as a leading man in Hollywood.

Since then, Hanks has gone on to star in some of the most iconic films of our time and has won numerous awards for his performances, including two Academy Awards. 

His guest appearance on Happy Days may have been small, but it played a big role in launching his career and cementing his place in Hollywood history.

“I kicked Fonzie,” Hanks recounted on SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show. “I got dressed up in a judo karate outfit. And I think I’m legendarily the first guy to actually strike Fonzie. I kicked him through the stained glass window of Al’s Drive-in.”

While his guest appearance on Happy Days may not have ingratiated Hanks to fans of The Fonz, it did catch the eye of some folks at Disney. 

Read also: From the Big Screen to the Small Screen: Ron Howard’s ‘Backdraft’ Adaptation

Hanks in the House

Former Happy Days actor Ron Howard’s romantic comedy Splash was the first film to be released under Disney’s new label Touchstone Pictures. Moreover, they were in need of a leading man to fall in love with Daryl Hannah’s mermaid-in-human-disguise. 

Hanks’ performance in the episode “A Little Case of Revenge” caught the attention of the producers and they offered him the leading role in the film. 

This opportunity helped establish Hanks as a leading man in Hollywood and marked the beginning of his successful career in the film industry.

“Ron Howard had already left the show, and he was directing, and they had written this movie called Splash,” Hanks elaborated. 

“And it was at Disney, and no one wanted to work for Disney, and no one would take the job. And eventually they said, ‘Hey, this guy who kicked Fonzie through a plate-glass window might be good.’ And so I ended up auditioning for that.”

And the rest is history. Also starring John Candy and Eugene Levy, Splash was a hit with audiences and critics alike. It was the first movie to be released under Disney’s new label Touchstone Pictures. 

The movie scored an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay and established Hanks as a bona fide movie star. 

It became a turning point in his career and helped him to establish himself as a leading man in Hollywood. The film was a commercial success and helped to establish Hanks as one of the most sought-after actors in the industry.

While Winkler and Hanks have yet to have a rematch in any TV or film, the two of them went on to have successful careers in their own right. 

An Exceptional Actor

Tom Hanks is an American actor, producer, and director who has been in the entertainment industry for over four decades. 

He is broadly regarded as one of the greatest actors of his generation and has won numerous awards for his performances, including two Academy Awards.

In the late 1970s, Hanks started his acting career and starred in a number of television shows and films. One of his early roles was in the popular sitcom Happy Days, where he guest starred in the 1982 episode “A Little Case of Revenge” as Dr. Dwayne Twitchell. 

He credits this appearance with getting him his first leading film role, in Ron Howard’s 1984 hit Splash. The movie was a box office hit and helped establish Hanks as a leading man in Hollywood.

He has received numerous award nominations for his performances and has won two Academy Awards for his roles in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. 

Furthermore, he has been honored with numerous other awards, such as Golden Globe awards, BAFTA awards, and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Read also: SAG Awards: Recognizing the Best in the Entertainment Industry Since 1995

What He Offers in the Industry

In addition to acting, Hanks is also a successful producer and director. He has produced and directed a number of films and television shows, including the miniseries Band of Brothers and the film That Thing You Do! 

He has also been involved in various humanitarian and philanthropic endeavors, including the fight against HIV/AIDS and support for veterans.

Hanks is widely respected and admired in the entertainment industry and is known for his talent, dedication, and humility. 

He is an big inspiration to several aspiring actors and continues to be an important figure in the world of film and television. He has become a household name and will continue to be remembered as one of the greatest actors of our time.

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