FROM LEFT: Zoë Winkler-Reinis with her dad, Henry Winkler, and brother, Max Winkler
Zoë Winkler-Reinis had her list of potential careers narrowed down to two very different options—reality show starlet or preschool teacher. From there the choice was easy. “When it was really time to decide, I thought about it for all of five seconds,” she says.
As the daughter of actor Henry Winkler, Winkler-Reinis has had plenty of opportunities over the years to cash in on her father’s fame as the iconic character “The Fonz” from Happy Days—including offers to be the subject of a reality show glamorizing her life. She’s not ashamed to admit she took advantage of it a few times. “Sometimes when I knew it would help, I used it,” says Winkler- Reinis. “My brother makes fun of me for that.”
But ultimately her long-standing desire to become a teacher overcame any drive for that kind of stardom. In her eighth year as an educator, Winkler-Reinis now teaches developmental preschool at a private school in Santa Monica, where she’s gaining a reputation as a favorite of students and parents alike—and not because her father pops into class on a regular basis. “Teaching was something I knew I was good at early on,” she says, “and it’s something I’ve done all on my own.”
Growing up, Winkler-Reinis struggled with learning disabilities that made school difficult, an experience that left her inspired to teach at an early age. “I just came home one day and told my mom I wanted to be a teacher,” she says. “I told her, ‘I don’t want other kids to feel stupid.’”
Today Winkler-Reinis is an avid reader as well as a writer, with several projects in the works—including penning a chapter in an upcoming book about fathers and daughters. Recently married to actor Robert Reinis, she spends much of her free time with her family, which she describes as “very, very, very close.”
These days it’s clear Winkler-Reinis views herself in a more domestic role than in years past. But one gets the sense she still has a small craving for the limelight. “I would love to have a cooking show,” she says.