Why Andrew Cuomo got a surprise phone call from Henry Winkler
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched his live daily coronavirus briefings — as the pandemic pounded the state — he realized that his words were being followed well beyond New York’s borders.
“People were watching the briefings not only across the country but across the world,” Cuomo writes in his upcoming book “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” out Tuesday from Crown. “I was deluged with phone calls, e-mails, texts and letters from every state in the nation and countries I have never even visited. It was remarkable and touching. Across the country, people were expressing their support in any way they could. People sent baked goods, poems, prayers.”
But while “citizens from all walks of life reached out,” the well wishes became somewhat surreal when even “the Fonz” got in touch.
“I mentioned to someone that I was a fan of the Fonz from ‘Happy Days,’ ” writes Cuomo, “and the next thing I know, Henry Winkler called.”
Robert Redford also got in touch, as did Winston Churchill’s granddaughter, Edwina Sandys.
Cuomo also heard from a retired farmer in Kansas who watched the briefings and was compelled to help by donating the single spare N95 mask he had to a New York doctor or nurse. (After an article identified the farmer as Dennis Ruhnke, he was thanked by the governor of Kansas and wound up giving a commencement speech at his alma mater, Kansas State — which also granted him a degree since he’d had to leave college years ago to care for his family farm after the death of his father.)
“I called Mr. Ruhnke to congratulate him and his humility overwhelmed me,” Cuomo writes.
As the Fonz would say, “Correct-amundo!”
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