Michael McKean

Michael McKean
Michael McKean

McKean performing in April 2009
Born Michael John McKean
October 17, 1947 (1947-10-17) (age 64)
New York City, New York,
United States
Occupation Actor, comedian, writer, composer, musician
Years active 1973–present
Spouse Susan Russell (1970-1993)
Annette O'Toole (1999-present)

Michael John McKean (born October 17, 1947) is an American actor, comedian, writer, composer and musician, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Squiggy's friend, Leonard 'Lenny' Kosnowski, on the sitcom Laverne and Shirley; and for his work in the Christopher Guest ensemble films, particularly as David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap.


Early life and career

McKean was born in New York City, New York, the son of Ruth and Gilbert McKean.[1] He began his career (as well as the characters of Lenny and Squiggy) in Pittsburgh while a student at Carnegie Mellon University; David Lander was a fellow student at CMU. Their partnership grew after graduation as part of the comedy group The Credibility Gap with Harry Shearer in Los Angeles, but McKean's breakthrough came in 1976 when he joined the cast of Laverne and Shirley. McKean directed one episode, and the characters became something of a phenomenon, even releasing an album as Lenny and the Squigtones in 1979, which featured a young Christopher Guest on guitar (credited as Nigel Tufnel; the name Guest would use a few years later as part of the spoof rock band, Spinal Tap). "Foreign Legion of Love" was a big hit for the Squigtones, with frequent play on the Dr Demento Show. McKean also played his character in an episode of Happy Days. After leaving Laverne and Shirley in 1982, McKean played David St. Hubbins in the cult spoof documentary movie This Is Spinal Tap with both Guest and Shearer, and appeared in the soap opera spoof Young Doctors in Love.

Film and television

McKean quickly became a recognizable name in film and television, with appearances in films such as Used Cars (1980), Clue (1985), Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987), Earth Girls Are Easy (1988), the film adaptation of Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), Coneheads (1993), and Radioland Murders (1994). He also had guest roles on such shows as Murder, She Wrote, Murphy Brown, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and Caroline in the City. McKean was part of an ensemble cast in the short-lived television series Grand on NBC which aired in 1990.

Having already appeared as a musical guest and then host of Saturday Night Live, McKean joined the cast in 1994 and remained a cast member until 1995. At 46, he was the oldest person ever to join the Saturday Night Live cast, and the only person to be a musical guest, host, and cast member in that order.[2] During this time, he also released a video follow up to Spinal Tap, played the villainous Mr. Dittmeyer in The Brady Bunch Movie, and played the boss Gibby in the HBO series Dream On. After leaving Saturday Night Live, McKean spent a lot of time doing children's fare, voicing various TV shows and movies. In 1999, with two children from a previous marriage (to Susan Russell, from 1970 to 1993) McKean married Annette O'Toole.

Later work

In 1997, he played the lead voice role in computer game Zork Grand Inquisitor, as Dalboz of Gurth. His more recent films have included Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999); Mystery, Alaska (1999); Best in Show (2000) (in which he reunited with Christopher Guest); Little Nicky (2000); The Guru (2002); And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself (2003); and A Mighty Wind (2003) (in which The Folksmen are played by the actors who play Spinal Tap).

McKean's TV guest appearances include; The Simpsons; Law & Order; Family Guy; Star Trek: Voyager; and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. He also guest voiced on Oswald as Henry's cousin, Louie. Coincidentally, Henry was voiced by David Lander. He also lent his voice to an episode of Kevin Smith's Clerks: The Animated Series that was never aired on ABC but was included on the VHS and DVD versions of the series. In 1998, he guest starred in a two-part episode of The X-Files called "Dreamland" in which his character, Morris Fletcher, switched bodies with Fox Mulder. The character was a success, and reappeared in 1999's Three of a Kind, an episode which focused on the recurring characters of The Lone Gunmen. The character appeared on their short-lived spin-off series in 2001, and then returned to The X-Files in its final season for an episode called "Jump the Shark". McKean had a regular role as the brassy, heavily made-up bandleader Adrian Van Horhees in Martin Short's Comedy Central series, Primetime Glick, and in 2003, he guest starred on Smallville, the Superman prequel in which his wife stars as Martha Kent. McKean played Perry White, who - in the Superman universe - ultimately becomes Clark Kent's boss. He previously has been related to the Superman myth. In 1994, on the Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman first season episode "Vatman", He played Dr. Fabian Leek, a cloning expert who creates a Superman clone that belonged to corporate mogul Lex Luthor (John Shea). Also, during his short stint on Saturday Night Live, McKean played Perry White in a Superman spoof.

In 2003, he appeared in the Christopher Guest comedy A Mighty Wind. He co-wrote several songs for the film, including A Mighty Wind (with Guest and Eugene Levy), which won the Grammy for "Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media" and A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow (with wife Annette O'Toole), which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song.

He was on Broadway in a production of Hairspray in 2004, and is apparently writing his own musical with O'Toole. He was co-starring as Hines in a revival of The Pajama Game with Harry Connick, Jr. at the American Airlines Theatre in the first half of 2006. Also in 2006, McKean reunited with most of the cast of A Mighty Wind to film the comedy For Your Consideration and appeared in the play Love Song on the stage in London.

On March 22, 2006, while Harry Shearer was being interviewed on the Opie and Anthony Radio Show about the movie "Spinal Tap", he stated the following: "Well, Michael McKean had been in a band called 'The Left Banke'. They'd done a hit called 'Walk Away Renée', and 'Pretty Ballerina' was their follow-up that was a semi-hit, and he joined the band right after they had their hits."

McKean was recently cast in the pilot episode of a remake of the British Series, The Thick of It as the chief of staff. The pilot is being directed by Guest.

Recently, McKean starred in the 40th Anniversary Broadway revival of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, co-starring Ian McShane, Raul Esparza, Eve Best, and James Frain. The show opened on December 9, 2007. In 2009, he starred in the Chicago-based Steppenwolf Theatre Company's production of Superior Donuts, by Pulitzer Prize award-winning playwright Tracy Letts.

On January 20, 2010, it was announced that Michael McKean would return to an episode of Smallville alongside real life wife, Annette O'Toole.[3]

In May 2010, McKean won the Celebrity Jeopardy tournament by defeating Jane Curtin and Cheech Marin. The earnings were donated to the International Myeloma Foundation in honor of McKean's friend Lee Grayson, who died of myeloma in 2004.

In the summer of 2010, McKean took over the role of the Stage Manager in Thornton Wilder's Our Town at the Barrow Street Playhouse in New York's Greenwich Village. His run ended on August 24, 2010.

McKean is set to guest-star on TBS' Glory Daze.[4]

In 2011, McKean appeared on an episode of Sesame Street as Virgil, the rockstar. Looking for "rocks" to be in an all ROCK-band. He searches for many different rocks and gems but was unable to find his lead singer until Abby turn him into an emerald.

Recurring characters on SNL

  • Anthony, the weatherman from "Good Morning, Brooklyn"

Celebrity impersonations on SNL




External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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