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The Fonz Dies in Jukebox Incident

December 2, 2011


(Here is another installment from my series TV Character Obituaries.)

BOCA RATON, FL – Arthur Fonzarelli, aka The Fonz, aka Fonzie, aka the Italian guy who, with increasing age, bore a striking resemblance to a Lower East side Jewish butcher, died yesterday far from his legendary roots in Milwaukee. He had been a resident of the Jump The Shark Retirement Community for the past seven years in a state that harbors the Newlyweds and the Nearly Deads. Neighbors in Boca Raton remember a man who wore a black leather jacket in 95% humidity, had a habit of addressing the food at the dinner buffet with the phrase “Aaaaay” while holding both thumbs up and thrusting forward his bad hips, and seemed baffled whenever one of the silver-haired ladies were unresponsive to his snapping fingers.

Fonzie had set up a juke box in the senior recreation center that played hits from the Fifties, only it was broken half the time. The man with the thinning gray hair that he spent an hour each morning trying to shape into Elvis circa 1957, or Alec Baldwin circa 1997, would slam the song box with an arthritic fist in order to play a tune, while the other Jewish retirees would yell at him to just push the goddamn buttons like everyone else, you schmuck! These hand percussive measures never once produced the desired song, but they did manage to short-circuit the machine at least once a week.

Then, yesterday, The Fonz began kicking the juke box, screaming: “What the fuck, don’t you know who I am? I once made you work by snapping my fingers through the other side of a telephone. I once silenced a forest full of animals and insects by ordering them to ‘cool it.’ I once jumped over a shark…”

“Yeah,” interjected his long suffering wife, Pinkie-Purple Fonzarelli, “and our lives have been going downhill ever since!”

Fonzie glared at Pinky-Purple and then started booting the jukebox with added fury until it exploded in his face. In particular, it was part of a Fats Domino Blueberry Hill 45-record that wedged into his jugular vein. The Fonz had just enough time before the Grim Reaper told him to “cool it” for the last time to note the irony of the name on the lethal vinyl.


Blueberry Hill was the theme song of his old friend, Richie Cunningham, back when they were young, care-free and beautiful in Milwaukee. Richie had been second fiddle to The Fonz in those days, but in time outgrew his mentor’s fixation on greased hair and car engines, and so went off to college and eventually became a reporter, Richard Cunningham, for the New York Times and then CNN.

It was Cunningham who broke the story on Monica Lewinski’s semen-stained dress when, equipped with a snorkel and a notepad, he camped out in the woman’s hamper.  Fonzie tried to call him a week later to say how “uncool” it was to plunge to such linen depths for a scoop, but Cunningham’s secretary told the aging hipster that her boss was too busy living in reality, and that perhaps “The Fonz,” which she uttered with supreme sarcasm, should get past the Fifties to at least 1967.

“Yeah,” editorialized the secretary, “maybe you could help Abbie Hoffman levitate the Pentagon by hitting it with your fist.”

These were the final memories of The Fonz, as he held the murderous 45-record in his hand. His last words were: “You win Cunningham, you win.”

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