Micky Dolenz found fame as a member of the Monkees in the hit sitcom of the same name that ran from 1966 to 1968. That wasn’t his first TV role, but it’s the one he’s best known for. However, if things had worked out differently, he might have become even more famous as the Fonz.
Henry Winkler eventually won the role on Happy Days, which began in 1974 and ran for 11 seasons. The show’s creator, Garry Marshall, chose the actor after whittling down a number of other options. His final decision was between Winkler and Dolenz.
“It actually came down to me and Henry,” Dolenz recalled in 2015. “We’re good friends and still laugh about it. I remember when Henry first walked into the [audition]. … He saw me and said, ‘Oh, crap, Micky Dolenz is here. I’ll never get it!’ But I’m so glad he did because he was a much better Fonz than I would have been. He is the Fonz!”
Dolenz was in a ‘50s TV show called Circus Boy before he decided to study architecture – but he changed course again when he was invited to audition for The Monkees.
“When I read the pilot script and went in for the first interview, I remember thinking it might be something special,” he said. “There were other shows about music at the time, and a few other pilots I had been up for, but I remember telling everyone I knew that I really hoped I get this one.”
The drummer admitted he had no idea why The Monkees became as timeless and successful as Happy Days did after it. “There’s no formula,” Dolenz reflected. “You can’t say it was just the four of us or the songwriters, producers or writers. It really was like catching lightning in a bottle. You just do your best to surround yourself with talented people and work hard and take chances. At a certain point, the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. That’s the magic that exists in this business.”