Fonzie and Other Montana Celebrities

Yesterday I listened to my beloved Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me! podcast, and the weekly guest for their game “Not My Job” was none other than Henry Winkler. You know—the Fonz. Cool, shark-jumping Fonzie. (As well as Yale School of Drama grad [1970], which makes me insanely jealous, as they rejected my application to their dramaturgy program in 2003.)

It turns out that Henry just released a book about fly fishing…in Montana! It’s called I’ve Never Met an Idiot on the River. As he explained on Wait Wait, he fishes in Montana every single summer.

There are a number of celebrities, as it turns out, that have spent time in Montana. My landlord used to work for Jim Nabors (aka Gomer Pyle), whose home is in Whitefish. Andi MacDowell used to have a home in Missoula near the University of Montana, as well as a ranch down in the Bitterroot Valley. Keifer Sutherland and Emilio Estevez used to spend a lot of time around Whitefish—my landlord met Julia Roberts when she and Keifer were a thing. Infamously, the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski lived outside of Lincoln (and I visited his place!). Joe Montana’s son Nate currently plays football here for the University of Montana (which I found out about when he was arrested for drunk driving.) Then there are the notable people who were born here, such as Dana Carvey and David Lynch. Gary Cooper and Myrna Loy lived just a few houses apart as they grew up in Helena.

It seems there are notable people everywhere. Not too bad for a state with a population fewer than one million!

So of course I went directly to the internet to find out where Henry Winkler fishes. Was it near Missoula? Could I meet him? According to this Distinctly Montana article he frequents Firehole Ranch, just outside of West Yellowstone—a five hour drive from Missoula. In fact, the ranch even has a photo of him on their main page!

While I had considered a trip through Yellowstone on my way back to Portland, since summer is over it’s unlikely I would be able to meet Henry. Besides, if I caught up with Fonzie—the coolest guy on the planet—I might end up like Tom Hanks, just kinda making an idiot of myself. 🙂

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