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Group says ‘Aaay’ to Fonz in bronze

Associated Press

The Fonz in bronze? It could happen.

Visit Milwaukee, a group that promotes the city as a tourism and convention destination, is leading an effort to raise money for a bronze sculpture of the character played by Henry Winkler on TV’s "Happy Days," which was set in Milwaukee.

Some $45,000 has been raised toward a goal of $85,000 to commission the statue.

"It’s an honor," says Winkler. "But it is so bizarre to think there should be a statue."

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"If it helps the city, a city that has been so supportive and warm to me over the years, then I am so OK with it," the 61-year-old actor says.

Winkler played Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli on the family comedy, which aired from 1974 to 1984. The series also starred Ron Howard, Marion Ross, Tom Bosley and Erin Moran.

Visit Milwaukee is confident the statue will be unveiled next year, says Dave Fantle, vice president of public relations for the nonprofit group. The agency already has contacted four artists and hopes to choose a sculptor by the end of October, he said.

Fantle says the dedication ceremony would draw media attention to Milwaukee, and the sculpture would provide another tourism draw.

"This is a statue of a TV icon who remains the epitome of cool," he said.

The Fonz represents the old image of Milwaukee, which some visitors still appreciate, Fantle said. He said the statue could serve as a bridge between that world and Milwaukee’s new image, exemplified by the Milwaukee Art Museum and other developments.

"I don’t think we want to run and hide from our past, especially when our past happens to be a timeless television character," Fantle said.

Winkler said he would be willing to come to Milwaukee for the statue’s dedication.

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On the Net:

officialmilwaukee.com

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