Laverne & Shirley

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Laverne & Shirley
Laverne & Shirley.png
Genre Sitcom
Created by
Starring
Theme music composer
Opening theme"Making Our Dreams Come True", performed by Cyndi Grecco
Composers
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons8
No. of episodes178 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
  • Garry Marshall
  • Thomas L. Miller
  • Edward K. Milkis
Producers
Running time22–24 minutes
Production companies
Distributor CBS Television Distribution
Release
Original network ABC
Original releaseJanuary 27, 1976 (1976-01-27) 
May 10, 1983 (1983-05-10)
Chronology
Preceded by
Related shows

Laverne & Shirley (originally Laverne DeFazio & Shirley Feeney) [1] is an American sitcom television series that played for eight seasons on ABC from January 27, 1976, to May 10, 1983. A spin-off of Happy Days , Laverne & Shirley followed the lives of Laverne DeFazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams), two friends and roommates who work as bottle-cappers in the fictitious Shotz Brewery in late 1950s Milwaukee, Wisconsin. From the sixth season onwards, the series' setting changed to mid-1960s Burbank, California. Michael McKean and David Lander co-starred as their friends and neighbors Lenny Kosnowski and Andrew "Squiggy" Squiggman, respectively; along with Eddie Mekka as Carmine Ragusa, Phil Foster as Laverne's father Frank DeFazio, and Betty Garrett as the girls' landlady Edna Babish.

Contents

Featuring regular physical comedy, Laverne & Shirley became the most-watched American television program by its third season; in total, it received six Golden Globe nominations and one Emmy nomination. [2] [3] [4] [5]

History

The series is a spin-off from Happy Days , as the two lead characters were originally introduced on that series as acquaintances of Fonzie (Henry Winkler). The characters were originally "two girls who date the fleet", but for family hour, they had to be changed and mellowed down, which, in Cindy Williams' opinion, gave the show more depth. [6] Set in roughly the same period, the timeline started in approximately 1958, when the series began, through 1967, when the series ended. As with Happy Days, it was made by Paramount Television, created by Garry Marshall (along with Lowell Ganz and Mark Rothman) and executive produced by Garry Marshall, Edward K. Milkis, and Thomas L. Miller from Miller-Boyett Productions.

According to Michael Eisner, Cindy Williams had refused to do the Laverne & Shirley spin-off, so her role was recast with Liberty Williams (no relation), and a seven-minute screen test was filmed. Between that afternoon shoot and the evening, Cindy Williams was eventually talked into doing the role and she re-filmed the scene that night with Penny Marshall, who became her co-star in the series. Executives wanted to see both versions, but Eisner hid the first reel of film in a closet of the building and said at the screening that the film from the first shoot had got lost, so they only watched the performance of Cindy Williams with Penny Marshall. [7]

Plot


Seasons 1–5

Shirley (left) and Laverne (right) Laverne and shirley 1976.JPG
Shirley (left) and Laverne (right)

In the opening credits, Laverne and Shirley recite "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated," a Yiddish-American hopscotch chant, which then leads into the series' theme song, "Making Our Dreams Come True" performed by Cyndi Grecco. In the final season without Cindy Williams, the chant is recited by a group of schoolchildren. The hopscotch chant is from Penny Marshall's childhood. [8]

For the first five seasons, from 1976 to 1980, the show was set in Milwaukee (executive producer Thomas L. Miller's home town), taking place from roughly 1958–59 through the early 1960s. Shotz Brewery bottle cappers and best friends, Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney, live in a basement apartment, where they communicate with upstairs neighbors Lenny and Squiggy by screaming up the dumbwaiter shaft connecting their apartments. Also included in the show are Laverne's father, Frank DeFazio, proprietor of the Pizza Bowl, and Edna Babish, the apartment building's landlady, who later married Frank. Shirley maintained an off-again on-again romance with dancer/singer/boxer Carmine "The Big Ragoo" Ragusa. During this period, characters from Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley made occasional guest appearances on each other's series.

During the fifth season, the girls went into the Army Reserve, and they contended with a tough-as-nails drill sergeant named Alvinia T. "The Frog" Plout (Vicki Lawrence). While their time in the Army Reserve was brief in the live action series, it did inspire an animated series with the duo in the army contending with their immediate superior, a commanding pig named Sgt. Squealy who was voiced by Ron Palillo (best known for his role as Arnold Horshack on Welcome Back, Kotter ) who is always threatening to report them to Sgt. Turnbuckle (voiced by Kenneth Mars).

When Laverne's New Year's Eve date dumps her, an ailing Shirley comforts her. Laverne and shirley new years eve 1977.JPG
When Laverne's New Year's Eve date dumps her, an ailing Shirley comforts her.

Michael McKean and David Lander created the characters of Lenny and Squiggy while both were theater students at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. [9] Lander told an interviewer in 2006 that they created the characters while high on marijuana. [9] After graduating, they continued to perform the characters in live comedy routines before joining the show's cast.

Seasons 6–8

For the sixth season in 1980, Laverne and Shirley and their friends all moved from Milwaukee to Burbank, California. Laverne and Shirley took jobs at Bardwell's department store as gift wrappers. Frank and Edna managed a Texas barbecue restaurant called Cowboy Bill's, Carmine delivered singing telegrams and sought work as an actor, and Lenny and Squiggy started a talent agency called Squignowski Talent Agency. From this point until the end of the series' run, Laverne & Shirley was set in the mid-1960s. In one of the shots in the show's new opening sequence, the ladies are seen kissing a 1964 poster of the Beatles. 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 . When the series' setting changed to California, two new characters are added: Sonny St. Jacques, a stunt man, landlord of the Burbank apartment building and love interest for Laverne; as well as Rhonda Lee, the ladies' neighbor and an aspiring actress.

In March 1982, Cindy Williams became pregnant with her first child. In August, two episodes into production of the series' eighth season, Williams left the show and filed a $20 million lawsuit against Paramount after they demanded Williams work on her scheduled due date. The case was later settled out of court and Williams was released from her contract. [10]

The series' final season continued with two episodes with Williams still playing Shirley, then it was just Marshall as Laverne, who now worked for an aerospace company. Ratings dipped but were strong enough for the show to be considered for a ninth season. Marshall agreed based on the agreement that the show would move production to New York City. Faced with the high cost of such an endeavor, ABC opted not to renew the series and it quietly faded from the schedule in May 1983.

Characters

Cast photo, 1976. Standing, L-R: Carole Ita White, Phil Foster, Eddie Mekka, Betty Garrett. Middle row, standing: Penny Marshall, Cindy Williams. Seated: Michael McKean, David Lander. Laverne and Shirley cast 1976.JPG
Cast photo, 1976. Standing, L–R: Carole Ita White, Phil Foster, Eddie Mekka, Betty Garrett. Middle row, standing: Penny Marshall, Cindy Williams. Seated: Michael McKean, David Lander.

Main

Recurring

Episodes

SeriesEpisodesOriginally airedRankRating
First airedLast aired
1 1527 January 1976 (1976-01-27)18 May 1976 (1976-05-18)327.5
2 2328 September 1976 (1976-09-28)5 April 1977 (1977-04-05)230.9
3 2420 September 1977 (1977-09-20)30 May 1978 (1978-05-30)131.6
4 245 September 1978 (1978-09-05)15 May 1979 (1979-05-15)130.5
5 2613 September 1979 (1979-09-13)13 May 1980 (1980-05-13)42N/A
6 2218 November 1980 (1980-11-18)26 May 1981 (1981-05-26)2020.6 [lower-alpha 1]
7 2213 October 1981 (1981-10-13)11 May 1982 (1982-05-11)2019.9
8 2228 September 1982 (1982-09-28)10 May 1983 (1983-05-10)2517.8

Broadcast history and ratings

Laverne & Shirley debuted in the 1975–76 TV season, with its first episode airing in January 1976. By its third season, it had become the most-watched American television program. In August 1979, before the start of its fifth season, Laverne & Shirley was moved to Thursdays at 8 pm opposite The Waltons on CBS and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century on NBC. Viewership fell sharply. In an effort to improve the show's ratings, ABC moved Laverne & Shirley to Mondays at 8 p.m. in December 1979. The ratings fared no better so, in February 1980, the network moved the series back to its familiar Tuesday-night berth right after Happy Days, where it remained for the next three years. By the end of the fifth season, however, the sitcom failed to make the list of the top 30 programs. Between 1980 and 1982, the ratings improved considerably, but despite having regained its Tuesday-night time slot and changing its format, Laverne & Shirley never regained the popularity it had attained during its first four years on the air. By the time of its cancellation in 1983, the series ranked at number 25 for the season.

Animated spin-off

During 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, and featured the voices of Marshall and Williams playing Laverne and Shirley in the Army with a talking piglet drill sergeant named "Squealy" (voiced by Ron Palillo). The show was renamed Laverne & Shirley with Special Guest Star The Fonz when the Fonz began working in the motorpool as the chief mechanic, and then again renamed Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour when new segments involving a teenaged Mork & Mindy were added to the mix. The series ran until September 3, 1983.

Merchandise

The program was so successful at the time that it spawned a merchandise franchise. Mego released two models of Laverne and Shirley dolls, and one model of Lenny and Squiggy dolls. Matchbox created a Shotz Brewery delivery van, and several novelty toys were sold such as Halloween costumes, a board game, jigsaw puzzles, coloring books, video slot machine [15] and other toys.[ citation needed ]

Home media

Paramount Home Entertainment and (starting with season 2) CBS DVD have released the entire series of Laverne and Shirley on DVD in Region 1, albeit with music substitutions and scene deletions. [16]

On June 16, 2015, CBS DVD released Laverne & Shirley – The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1. [17]

Season 1 has also been released on DVD in Region 2.

The first three seasons have been released on DVD in Region 4 by Paramount.

DVD nameNo. of
episodes
Release dates
Region 1Region 2Region 4
The Complete First Season15August 17, 2004April 7, 2008March 4, 2008
The Complete Second Season23April 17, 2007TBASeptember 4, 2008
The Complete Third Season24November 27, 2007TBAFebruary 5, 2009
The Complete Fourth Season24April 22, 2008TBATBA
The Complete Fifth Season26April 10, 2012TBATBA
The Complete Sixth Season22May 21, 2013TBATBA
The Complete Seventh Season22February 4, 2014TBATBA
The Complete Eighth and Final Season22May 6, 2014TBATBA
The Complete Series178June 16, 2015TBATBA
"Laverne & Shirley Sing" (1976) cover Laverne and Shirley Sing LP.jpg
"Laverne & Shirley Sing" (1976) cover
"Lenny and the Squigtones" (1979) cover Lenny and the Squigtones LP.jpg
"Lenny and the Squigtones" (1979) cover

Music

The theme song from the series ("Making Our Dreams Come True" as performed by Cyndi Grecco) was released as a single from Cyndi's LP by the same name and became a radio favorite, becoming a top-30 American hit in 1976. [18]

In 1976, Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams released an album, performed in character, titled Laverne & Shirley Sing, which contained some original songs along with some 1950s and 1960s standards. The album was originally released on Atlantic Records. On November 11, 2003, Collector's Choice released it on CD. The single Sixteen Reasons reached #72 in Canada. [19]

In 1979, Michael McKean and David Lander followed suit with the album Lenny and the Squigtones , also performed in character, featuring mainly original songs penned by McKean. The album was released on Casablanca Records. [20] [21]

In July 1979, McKean and Lander also appeared together (in character) on American Bandstand performing the song "King of the Cars", the single released from their Lenny and the Squigtones album. They also performed "Love Is A Terrible Thing", another song from the album.

In 1980, Romina Power (of Al Bano and Romina Power fame) recorded a separate theme tune for the show when it was introduced to the Italian market. The track, simply titled "Laverne & Shirley" featured verses in English and Italian. Released as a single in the same year, the track failed to chart. [22]

Notes

Related Research Articles

Michael McKean American actor, comedian, screenwriter, and musician

Michael John McKean is an American actor, comedian, screenwriter, and musician known for various roles in film and television such as Lenny Kosnowski in Laverne & Shirley, David St. Hubbins in This Is Spinal Tap, and Chuck McGill on Better Call Saul.

David Lander American actor

David L. Lander was an American actor, comedian, musician, and baseball scout, best known for his portrayal of Squiggy in Laverne & Shirley. He also served as a Goodwill ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

<i>Happy Days</i> 1974–1984 television comedy set in the 1950s

Happy Days is an American sitcom television series that aired first-run on the ABC network from January 15, 1974, to July 19, 1984, with a total of 255 half-hour episodes spanning 11 seasons. Created by Garry Marshall, the series was one of the most successful of the 1970s, a sweet vision of life in the mid-1950s to mid-1960s Midwestern United States, and starred Ron Howard as young Richie Cunningham, Henry Winkler as his friend Fonzie, and Tom Bosley and Marion Ross as Richie's parents, Howard and Marion Cunningham. Although it opened to mixed reviews from critics, Happy Days became successful and popular over time.

Penny Marshall American actress, director and producer

Carole Penny Marshall was an American actress, director, and producer. She came to notice in the 1970s for her role as Laverne DeFazio on the television sitcom Laverne & Shirley (1976–1983), receiving three nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy for her portrayal.

Cindy Williams American actress

Cynthia Jane Williams is an American actress and producer, known for her role as Shirley Feeney on the television sitcom Happy Days (1975-1979), and Laverne & Shirley (1976–1982).

Nigel Tufnel is a fictional character in the 1984 mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap. In the film, he is the lead guitarist of the rock band Spinal Tap. He was played by actor Christopher Guest.

Eddie Mekka American actor (born 1952)

Eddie Mekka is an American actor best known for his role as Carmine Ragusa on the television sitcom Laverne & Shirley.

Blansky's Beauties is an American sitcom television series and ostensible spin-off of Happy Days that aired on ABC from February 12 to June 27, 1977. The main character of the series was introduced on an episode of Happy Days, then set in the early 1960s, but the show is set in the present-day of 1977. The series was a ratings flop and was cancelled after only 13 episodes.

Lenny and the Squigtones is a fictional musical group headed by Michael McKean and David Lander, the two actors who played the characters Lenny and Squiggy on the television series Laverne & Shirley. The group's eponymous debut album, Lenny & Squiggy Present Lenny and the Squigtones, was released on the Casablanca label in 1979. Recorded live at the Roxy in Hollywood, they perform parodies of 50s rock ballads. In between, there is schtick and patter.

Laverne & Shirley, also known as Laverne & Shirley in the Army, is an American animated television series produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and Paramount Television that was originally broadcast on ABC from October 10, 1981 to November 13, 1982. It is a spin-off of the live-action sitcom Laverne & Shirley with the title characters voiced by Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams and was loosely based on the 1979 two-part episode "We're in the Army, Now" in which Laverne and Shirley enlisted in the Army.

Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour is a 1982-1983 American animated television series produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and Ruby-Spears Enterprises in association with Paramount Television, featuring animated versions of characters from the live-action sitcoms Mork & Mindy, Laverne & Shirley and Happy Days, all part of the same franchise. This Saturday morning series lasted for one season on ABC.

This is a list of episodes from the sixth season of Happy Days.

<i>Laverne & Shirley</i> (season 1)

The first season of Laverne & Shirley, an American television sitcom series, began airing on January 27, 1976 on ABC. The season concluded on May 18, 1976 after 15 episodes.

<i>Laverne & Shirley</i> (season 2)

The second season of Laverne & Shirley, an American television sitcom series, began airing on September 28, 1976 on ABC. The season concluded on April 5, 1977 after 23 episodes.

<i>Laverne & Shirley</i> (season 3)

The third season of Laverne & Shirley, an American television sitcom series, began airing on September 20, 1977 on ABC. The season concluded on May 30, 1978 after 24 episodes.

<i>Laverne & Shirley</i> (season 4)

The fourth season of Laverne & Shirley, an American television sitcom series, began on September 5, 1978 on ABC. The season concluded on May 15, 1979 after 24 episodes.

<i>Laverne & Shirley</i> (season 5)

The fifth season of Laverne & Shirley, an American television sitcom series, began airing on September 13, 1979 on ABC. The season concluded on May 13, 1980 after 26 episodes.

<i>Laverne & Shirley</i> (season 6)

The sixth season of Laverne & Shirley, an American television sitcom series, began airing on November 18, 1980 on ABC. The season concluded on May 26, 1981 after 22 episodes.

<i>Laverne & Shirley</i> (season 7)

The seventh season of Laverne & Shirley, an American television sitcom series, began airing on October 13, 1981 on ABC. The season concluded on May 11, 1982 after 22 episodes.

<i>Laverne & Shirley</i> (season 8)

The eighth and final season of Laverne & Shirley, an American television sitcom series, began airing on September 28, 1982 on ABC. The season concluded on May 10, 1983 after 22 episodes.

References

  1. "MARK ROTHMAN". Archive of American Television. Retrieved November 1, 2017.
  2. SHER, LAUREN. "'Laverne & Shirley' Reunion: 5 Fun Facts From the Cast". ABC News. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  3. "LAVERNE & SHIRLEY". Archive of American Television. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  4. B. Myint (January 27, 2016). "7 Facts About 'Laverne and Shirley'". Biography.com . Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  5. "Laverne & Shirley - Awards". IMDb . Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  6. "Cindy Williams Actress". The Interviews. Television Academy Foundation. Retrieved March 18, 2021.
  7. Michael Eisner on casting Cindy Williams on "Laverne & Shirley", interview with EmmyTvLegends.org (posted to YouTube on Nov 8, 2011)
  8. "'Laverne & Shirley' Reunion: 5 Fun Facts From the Cast" . Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  9. 1 2 YouTube video: "Squiggy on Marijuana."
  10. Ree Hines. "Cindy Williams on why she left 'Laverne' in 'Shirley, I Jest'". TODAY.com. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  11. "The Story of Laverne's "L"". www.childrensmuseum.org. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. Retrieved May 15, 2017.
  12. "CINDY WILLIAMS". Archive of American Television. Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  13. Myint, B. "7 Facts About 'Laverne and Shirley'". biography.com. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  14. "Betty Garrett". The Interviews. Television Academy Foundation. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  15. Laverne & Shirley Video Slots by IGT
  16. "Laverne & Shirley DVD news: Announcement for Laverne & Shirley - The Complete 8th and Final Season - TVShowsOnDVD.com". Archived from the original on April 27, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  17. "Laverne & Shirley DVD news: Announcement for Laverne & Shirley - The Complete Series - TVShowsOnDVD.com". Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  18. Super Hits of the '70s, Volume 18, Rhino Records, 1993, liner notes
  19. "RPM Top 100 Singles - December 25, 1976" (PDF).
  20. "Kiss Related Recordings; Peter Criss (as Ming The Merciless) : Lenny and Squiggy - Lenny and the Squigtones1979" . Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  21. "Casablanca Album Discography, Part 3 (NBLP 7100-7199)" . Retrieved April 20, 2015.
  22. Romina Power - Laverne & Shirley (1980). YouTube. March 4, 2011. Retrieved April 20, 2015.