Laverne & Shirley
show_name = Laverne & Shirley
runtime = 25 Minutes
Garry Marshall Lowell Ganz Mark Rothman
Penny Marshall Cindy Williams Michael McKean David Lander Eddie Mekka Phil Foster Betty Garrett
opentheme = "Making Our Dreams Come True" by
Norman Gimbeland Charles Fox Cyndi Grecco(singer)
country = USA
network = ABC
January 27 1976
May 10 1983
num_seasons = 8
num_episodes = 178
Blansky's Beauties" " Mork & Mindy" "Out of the Blue" " Joanie Loves Chachi" " The New Love, American Style"
imdb_id = 0074016
"Laverne & Shirley" was a popular American television
situation comedythat ran on ABC from 1976 to 1983. It starred Penny Marshallas Laverne De Fazio and Cindy Williamsas Shirley Feeney, roommates who, as the series began, worked in a Milwaukee brewery.
The show was a
spin-offfrom " Happy Days", as the two lead characters were originally introduced on that show as acquaintances of Fonzie. Set in roughly the same time period as "Happy Days", "Laverne & Shirley" started in approximately 1959, and when the series ended, it was 1967.
Both shows were made by
Paramount Television. "Laverne & Shirley" filmed on stage 20 and "Happy Days" on stage 19.
In April 2007, it was announced that Marshall would reunite with her "
Laverne & Shirley" co-star Cindy Williamsfor a TV Landnetwork reality series in which the ladies would play themselves and live in Marshall's house, where the show would be filmed.Described as a buddy comedy, "Penny and Cindy", is being produced by Gay Rosenthal Prods, while Jim Vallely ("The Golden Girls, Arrested Development") is the writer and executive producer.
At the start of each episode, Laverne and Shirley are seen skipping down the street, arm in arm, reciting a popular
Yiddish-American hopscotchchant: "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight! Schlemiel! Schlimazel! HasenpfefferIncorporated!" This then leads into the series' theme song which is entitled "Making Our Dreams Come True" and is performed by Cyndi Grecco.
The opening sequence has been parodied in many pop culture outlets, including the movie "Wayne's World", where Garth and Wayne perform the theme song while visiting Milwaukee. The sequence has also been parodied in other languages, on "
Friends" in a Spanish-language track under the title "Laverne y Shirley" and on " Saturday Night Live", in faux Japanese, under the name "Rabun to Shuri".
Full character list
* Laverne De Fazio (
Penny Marshall) Known for being a tough-talking tomboy, Laverne grew up in Brooklyn, with her Italian immigrant parents and grandmother; Laverne and her father later moved to Milwaukee, after her mother's death, but Laverne's mother is buried in Milwaukee. Laverne works alongside best friend and roommate Shirley and is known for being the cynic of the pair. She would consider herself a realist, and she sees her life for what it is. "This is it, this is our life." is Laverne's motto. Laverne enjoys dating tough guys of the "Purple Fiends" gang and picking up sailors at the dock with old lady neighbor Mrs. Colchek. Laverne is also a fan of the TV show Sea Huntand enjoys 3-D Monster Movies, like "The Bride of Bwana Devil". Milk and Pepsiwas Laverne's infamous favorite drink (Penny Marshall drank milk and Pepsi in real life and added it to her character). Along with her poodle skirts, a well-known trait of Laverne's style was the letter "L" monogrammed on her shirts and sweaters (another idea introduced by Marshall).
* Shirley Feeney (
Cindy Williams) Shirley Wilhelmina Feeney is the perky, positive one. With apple cheeks to match her personality, Shirley never "lets her balloon land". She also tends to be a meek little "girly-girl", while Laverne is more outspoken and athletic. One of Shirley's most prized possessions is "Boo Boo Kitty", a large stuffed catwhich sits next to her bed. Her favorite song is Frank Sinatra's "High Hopes" and that song is featured in several episodes, often used by one of the girls to cheer the other up. Shirley later becomes a huge fan of teen-idol Fabian. She has an overbearing mother named Lily (Pat Carroll) who had moved to California, and an alcoholic sailor brother Bobby ( Ed Begley Jr.). In episode 32 "Buddy Can You Spare a Father?" (which aired 2/15/1977), Shirley's father Jack Feeney is played by Scott Brady, a noted actor who was originally offered the part of Archie Bunkerin 1971 for All in the Family. Shirley dotes on her never-seen nieces, nephews and cousins and adores her "Feeney Family Photo Album". Shirley is also well-known as a prude: "I don't vodeo-doe-doe" was an early catchphrase. In the series' earliest episodes, Cindy Williams used a coarser accent for her character, but it was soon softened considerably. (This speech pattern had been previously used by Williams in a commercial for Foster Grantsunglasses.)
* Lenny Kosnowski (
Michael McKean), a lovable goof who pesters Laverne and Shirley along with his best friend and roommate Squiggy (who both live upstairs from Laverne and Shirley's basement apartment). Lenny works as a truck driver at the Shotz brewery. Raised by his father after his mother abandoned them, Lenny claims to be 89th in line to the Polish Throne. When Lenny attempted to have the words "Lone Wolf" embroidered on the back of his red jacket, a mistake left him with "One Wolf" instead; Laverne was kind enough to sew on one of her own fancy-script "L's" to complete the phrase. Lenny says that, while he's not completely sure, he thinks his name Kosnowski is Polish for "Help, there's a hog in my kitchen".
* Andrew "Squiggy" Squigman (
David Lander) The most obnoxious of the bunch, and the greasiest. Squiggy works and lives with childhood friend Lenny. Squiggy grew up with neglectful parents, and is often scheming to get rich or succeed by somewhat devious means. For some reason, he collects moths, and prizes a stuffed Iguana named Jeffrey. Squiggy, like Lenny, loves the chocolate-flavored drink Bosco Chocolate Syrup, and makes nearly every entrance with his trademark "Hello" said in a slightly dopey voice.
* Frank De Fazio (
Phil Foster) Laverne's Italian-born father who runs the Pizza Bowl, a local hang out featuring pizza, beer, and, of course, bowling and then later Cowboy Bills in Burbank, California. A running joke involves his incomprehensibly thick Italian accent, which sounds more like mumbling than speech. Although he could be harsh and lose his temper, he did have a heart of gold. He loved Laverne very much, having been her only parent for years; his pet name for his daughter was "Muffin".
* Carmine "The Big Ragu" Ragusa (
Eddie Mekka) Shirley's high school sweetheart and on-again, off-again romance. He originally appeared in Happy Days as one of Fonzie's friends. Carmine's occasional lady companion was wealthy divorcee Lucille Lockwash, which made Shirley jealous. "The Big Ragu" is a part-time boxer who owns a dance studio and is constantly working to make it big as a dancer and singer. In the final episode of the series, he auditions for the musical "Hair", at last landing a major role on Broadway.
* Edna Babish DeFazio (
Betty Garrett) The landlady who eventually married Laverne's father, Edna occasionally sings and dances in the local Brewery talent show. Edna has had eight divorces, and eventually divorces Frank too, towards the end of the series (when Garrett opted to leave the show at the beginning of the final season). In one episode, Edna's daughter Amy is introduced. She has been away at "school" and it is implied she is handicapped or a slow learner. It appears she has led a sheltered life more due to her mother protecting her. Laverne and Shirley help her to adjust and come out of her shell.
* Big Rosie Greenbaum (
Carole Ita White) A snob, and the girls' childhood nemesis. She married a rich doctor and rubs this in the girls' faces, though they make fun of the fact that he is a proctologist. She is Laverne's rival and upsets her by calling her a "bimbo". Big Rosie and fellow Milwaukee classmate Terri Buttefuco both return in the 7th-season episode "Class of '56".
* Rhonda Lee (
Leslie Easterbrook) a ditzy blonde actress / singer / dancer / model trying to make it big, she is Laverne and Shirley's neighbor and a regular character after they move to Burbank.
* Sonny St. Jacques (
Ed Marinaro) A stuntman and Laverne and Shirley's building manager in Burbank.
Timeline of show
For the first five seasons, from 1976 to 1980, the show was set in
Milwaukee, running from roughly 1959 (one early episode involves the girl's third year high school reunion of the Fillmore High Class of 1956) through the early 1960s. Shotz Brewery (a fictitious analogy of the Schlitz company) bottlecappers and best friends, Laverne and Shirley live in a basement apartment on Knapp Street (a real street near the Schlitz Brewery in Milwaukee), where the feet of pedestrians are visible from their front window. The two women communicate with upstairs neighbors Lenny and Squiggy by screaming up the dumbwaiter shaft connecting their apartments instead of using the telephone. Also appearing were Laverne's father, Frank, proprietor of the Pizza Bowl, and landlady Edna Babish. Shirley maintained a stormy romance with dancer/singer Carmine Ragusa ("I can date other men and Carmine can date "ugly" women", she tells Laverne). During this period, characters from "Happy Days" and "Laverne & Shirley" would make occasional guest appearances on each other's shows.
For the sixth season in 1980, the current cast moved from
Milwaukeeto Burbank, California, with the catalyst behind the move as the girls losing their bottlecapping jobs to new automation installed at Shotz Brewery, and want to start fresh. Their friends and family are inspired by the idea and also pack up to move out west.
Laverne and Shirley took jobs as gift-wrappers at Bardwell's Department Store, Frank and Edna managed a Texas BBQ restaurant called "Cowboy Bill's", and Carmine delivered singing telegrams and sought work as an actor. From this point until the end of the show's run, "Laverne & Shirley" was set in the mid-1960s. The girls are seen kissing a 1964
Beatlesposter in the new opening credits. With each season, a new year passed in the timeline of the show, starting with 1965 in the 1980-81 season, and ending in 1967 with Carmine heading off for Broadway, to star in the musical "Hair". The opening credits of the California seasons feature the cast toasting at New Year's, and visible on a large banner is the year depicted in that season.
When the show moved to California, two new members joined the cast:
Ed Marinaroas Sonny St. Jacques, a stunt man, landlord of the Burbank apartment building, and love interest for Laverne, as well as Leslie Easterbrookas Rhonda Lee, the girls' neighbor and an aspiring actress. Marinaro had previously been cast a year earlier as Laverne's cousin Antonio from Italy (who had a talent for taming wild animals). The move to Burbank is generally considered by fans to have been when the show jumped the shark (the beginning of the end). Marinaro left after one season in California, Betty Garrett left by 1981, Cindy Williams left in 1982, and Michael McKean was missing from the final episodes.
Laverne without Shirley
In August 1982, Williams reportedly felt that the L&S producers were uncooperative and using her pregnancy as an excuse to ease her off the series permanently. Williams stormed off the set and filed a $20,000,000 lawsuit against Paramount Pictures (later settled out of court). By then the show's ratings had already declined considerably. In the final season, Shirley fell in love with and married Army medic Walter Meany (making her Shirley Feeney-Meany), and discovered one episode later that she was pregnant (though she had actually been visibly pregnant for some time). This would be Williams' last appearance. With Shirley gone (leaving Laverne a note and quickly leaving town to join her husband overseas), Laverne tried to go it alone and a new opening was shot with Laverne watching children singing the famous "Schlemiel! Schlemazel!" lines. The show kept the title "Laverne & Shirley" on-screen, though Cindy Williams was neither shown nor titled in the opening credits. Laverne began working in an aerospace testing facility and did not need another roommate. Several guest stars were featured in the final season of 1982-83, including
Carrie Fisherand Louise Lasser, but the series did not survive the loss of one of the title leads and was subsequently canceled. The final episode dealt with Carmine moving away to New York to star in the Broadway show "Hair" (very possibly intended as a back door pilot for a Carmine centered spin-off), and Laverne was seen simply in book-end scenes."'
List of animated spinoffs from prime time showsDuring the run of the main show, an animated spin-off called "Laverne & Shirley in the Army" began airing on Saturday mornings. The first program was aired on October 10, 1981. The show featured the voices of Marshall and Williams playing Laverne & Shirley in the Army (much like they had been during their 1979-1980 season) with a talking piglet Drill Sergeant named "Squealy" (voiced by " Welcome Back Kotter" alum Ron Palillo). The show was renamed "Laverne & Shirley with the Fonz" when the Fonz began working in the motorpool as the chief mechanic. The series ran until September 3, 1983.
Ratings and merchandising
"Laverne & Shirley" premiered in January 1976, and by its second season it had become the most-watched American television program, even surpassing the ratings for "
Happy Days"'. At the time Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams were among television's best-paid actresses. "Laverne & Shirley" kept the top spot for two seasons but the leads' competitive rivalry and a network decision to move the show to Thursdays led the show to fall from #1 to below the top #30 during the 1979-1980 season. Producers panicked and chose a format change with a "move" to California, while some observers felt that they should have found better writers Fact|date=April 2008.
The theme song from the series (performed by Cyndi Grecco) was released as a single and became a top 30 hit in 1976.
The program was so successful at the time that it spawned a merchandise franchise. Mego released two models of Laverne & Shirley dolls, and one model of Lenny & Squiggy dolls. Hot Wheels created a Shotz Brewery delivery van, and several novelty toys were sold such as Halloween costumes, a board game, jigsaw puzzles, coloring books, and other toys.
The ratings for the shows seasons are:
The fifth season (1979-80) didn't break the Top 30, in part because of ABC's decision to move the series from its established time slot of Tuesday night at 8:30, to 8 p.m. Thursday. After ratings plummeted, ABC switched the show back to Tuesdays, and the ratings improved some, but the series never really recovered from a network decision that had favored the newer sitcom "
Angie (TV series)".
Though generally viewed as a slapstick comedy, several episodes included more dramatic storylines:
*In Episode #103, "Why Did The Fireman..?", Laverne mourns her boyfriend's death. The episode guest starred
Ted Dansonas Ted Nelson, a Milwaukee firefighter and Laverne's steady boyfriend who is killed in the line of duty the night before he intended to propose to her. Laverne, completely in shock, refuses to accept his death and waits up all night for him to return home. The father-daughter scene between Penny Marshall (Laverne) and Phil Foster (Frank De Fazio) in which he consoles his daughter is an example of the dramatic acting uncharacteristic for the series. This episode was directed by Joel Zwickand was written by Roger Garrett.
* In the Season 3 episode "The Slow Child", the girls befriend Mrs. Babish's partially-retarded daughter, Amy. Mrs. Babish does not care for how they treat her daughter as one of the girls, especially when Amy and Lenny begin to date.
* In the Season 4 episode "The Bully Show", Laverne's hood boyfriend makes her an accessory to a hold up, and forcibly imprisons her in his apartment.
*Another issue the show focused on was how women were treated in the pre-feminist world of the 1950s and early '60s. Unmarried women were often expected to be virgins, and were unequal in the work place.
*One episode, though a little more comic then dramatic, involved a flight to a GreenBay Packers game. Problems begin from the start, because of Laverne's fear of flying. When Shirley brings Laverne in to meet the pilot (in order to calm Laverne's nerves) she pours him a cup of coffee, only to have a patch of
turbulencesend the coffee into the pilot's lap. This causes him to jump up and hit his head on the ceiling, knocking him out. This leaves both Laverne and Shirley to pilot the plane and land it. Laverne was so afraid she would crash the plane into Lake Michiganshe and Shirley hugged goodbye, but the episode ends happily when the plane ends safely (because the pilot woke up just in time to land it).
Paramount Home Entertainmentand CBS DVDhave released the first four seasons of "Laverne & Shirley" on DVD in Region 1.
In 1976, Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams released an album titled "Laverne and Shirley Sing", which contained some original songs and some 1950s and 1960s standards. The album was released on
Atlantic Records. On November 11, 2003, Collector's Choice released it on CD. In 1979, Michael McKean and David Lander followed suit with the album "Lenny and the Squigtones", featuring mainly original songs penned by McKean. The album was released on Casablanca Records. The two also appeared in character on Fernwood Tonight, the satirical late night talk show hosted by Martin Mull and Fred Willard. In this appearance they claimed that their characters on Laverne and Shirley were based on their real life personas. They also performed their original song "The Creature Without a Head." McKean and Lander also appeared on American Bandstandperforming the song, "King of the Cars" which was released as the only single from the LP.
* The series taped on Stage 20 at
Paramount Studioson Melrose Ave, next door to the " Happy Days" set on Stage 19.
* During the first season, the on-screen title was given as "Laverne DeFazio & Shirley Feeney", though in ads and promos, it was always referred to as "Laverne & Shirley".
* While still producing new episodes, older episodes of "Laverne & Shirley" went into syndication. The syndicated episodes had the title "Laverne and Shirley and Company".
Carole Ita Whitewho played the girls' ex-schoolfriend and rival Big Rosie Greenbaum first appeared in season one, episode #8 as an unnamed tough woman with whom the girls fight with in a seedy pool hall.
* Ed Marinaro, who played Sonny St. Jacques (Laverne & Shirley's California landlord and Laverne's boyfriend) was originally cast as Antonio, Laverne's Italian cousin who came to America to make a living. For unknown reasons, Ed Marinaro never appeared again as Antonio. Some thought it was unusual that the same actor who played Laverne's cousin was re-cast as her boyfriend.
* "The Baby Show" was the third episode planned for season 8 filming, and was to be used later to feature the birth of Shirley's baby. After Cindy Williams' abrupt departure from the production, the role of expectant mother was re-written for Laverne's guest Sgt. Alvinia T. Plout (Vicki Lawrence).
* The series often referenced the wealthy Milwaukee Pfister family as the owners of many Milwaukee establishments, ie: Chez Pfister, The Hotel Pfister, Pfister Fong's, Pfister Plaster Palace. The Pfister Hotel is an actual downtown Milwaukee hotel known for its Victorian elegance (www.thepfisterhotel.com).
Impact on popular culture
Laverne & Shirley has been referenced or parodied by a number of shows. Andrew "Squiggy" Squigman appeared in "
The Simpsons" episode called " Helter Shelter". The show was also mentioned in a two-part episode of " South Park", when Cartman tells Kyle how a canceled episode of Laverne & Shirley ultimately resulted in it being pulled off the air. In the Scrubs episode My Fault, hypochondriac patient Harvey Korman references the show with his line "Hello Laverne, Shirley", directed to Nurse Laverne Roberts and another nurse. After Laverne Roberts died, actress Aloma Wrightwas recast as Nurse Shirley.
The "Laverne & Shirley" theme song was used when the
Philadelphia Philliesplayed the Milwaukee Brewersas part as CSN Philly's opening of the telecast.
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