It's been a long time coming for Henry Winkler! After 54 years in show business (and 43 years after he earned his first Emmy nomination), the Happy Days alum has finally claimed the coveted award. Winkler won the honor for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series at the 70th Emmys for his role as acting coach Gene Cousineau in Barry. He went up against six other nominees, including Louie Anderson for Baskets, Alec Baldwin for Saturday Night Live, Tituss Burgess for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Brian Tyree Henry for Atlanta, Tony Shalhoub for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Kenan Thompson for Saturday Night Live.
"I only have 37 seconds; I wrote this 43 years ago," quipped the actor, who has been nominated six times over his career (the first in 1976 for his role as Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli on Happy Days).
He added, "Skip Brittenham said to me a long time ago, ‘If you stay at the table long enough, the chips come to you,” and tonight I got to clear the table."
Concluding his acceptance speech on stage, Winkler dedicated the award to his kids. "Jed, Zoe, and Max, you can go to bed now, Daddy won!" the actor exclaimed.
When Barry first aired, Winkler shared why he thought his role as Gene was so special.
"I auditioned. I read the script. I knew, I'm reading something wonderful here. I've read a lot of scripts over the years for pilots," he divulged. "For men my age, it's usually, 'Oh, hold on a minute.' [He mimes covering the receiver of a phone.] ‘Turn in your badge. Take a few days off.’ And look what I got to do."
He also explained his inspiration for the role when Collider asked if he'd ever had an acting coach like Gene.
"Many! Not as crazy as him, but there’s a legendary acting teacher who made the students buy his paintings," he shared. "His students didn’t make any money, but he forced them to buy his paintings. He’s a conglomeration of quite a few people that I have met and heard about, and it just came from instinct, but it all starts with the page. There’s a great expression, 'If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage.'"
Winkler's former nominations include Outstanding Informational Program for Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids? and Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his stint on The Practice in 2000.
He is also known for Arrested Development, All Hail King Julien, Hank Zipzer, Royal Pains, and Parks and Recreation.
Better late than never, eh?
The 70th annual Emmy Awards will be held at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on September 17, 2018. SNL's Michael Che and Colin Jost will host the festivities, and actors Samira Wiley and Ryan Eggold announced this year's nominations on July 12. The Handmaid's Tale stars Ann Dowd, Yvonne Strahovski, and Alexis Bledel are all up for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, while Game of Thrones and Westworld are the most-nominated dramas of the year.