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Laverne & Shirley (TV Series 1976–1983) Poster

(1976–1983)

Trivia

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When Cindy Williams departed during the 1982-1983 season, due to pregnancy, her absence was explained by having Shirley moving out of the apartment to be with her husband Walter after he was transferred out of the country.
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Michael McKean and David L. Lander were originally hired as writers/consultants. They wrote themselves into the show as Lenny and Squiggy, two characters they created in college. Squiggy was originally named "Ant'ny" but the producers wanted the two boys' names to coincide with the girls'. Squiggy was the name of an unseen character in McKean and Lander's "Lenny and Ant'ny" sketches.
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Frustrated at TV shows constantly repeating who the characters are and what they do, Penny Marshall came up with the idea of Laverne having L's on all her clothes, figuring that would solve the problem. To her chagrin, they still had to say on a regular basis who was who and where the girls worked; she got tired of all the times Cindy Williams would say 'Laverne' in an episode.
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Penny Marshall worked the milk and Pepsi joke in based on her own life because as a child her mother would fill the same cup with milk as later with Pepsi and often wouldn't rinse out the cup or even wait until it was empty.
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Various cast members from Happy Days (Ron Howard, Erin Moran) have talked about the vicious fights next door on set of Laverne and Shirley, so loud that they would listen with glasses to the wall.
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According to the book Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, Penny Marshall stated that Gilda Radner was considered for the part of Shirley.
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Garry Marshall has said in interviews that Cindy Williams and his sister, Penny Marshall, were immature during the production of Laverne and Shirley and did not handle stardom well, treating their coworkers in an abusive manner, and acting like prima donnas, endlessly fighting about who got more lines, etc.
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For several years there was a certain amount of interplay between the characters of this show and Happy Days (1974), especially when both shows were set in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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Virtually all the scripts of the unsuccessful sitcom Hey, Landlord (1966) were eventually rewritten as scripts for this show.
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After The Odd Couple (1970) ceased production, the apartment set on that show was modified to become Laverne and Shirley's apartment.
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In 1976 Cindy Williams briefly walked off the show to protest Penny Marshall getting all the good lines. She returned two days later.
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Michael McKean appears in only four episodes in the eighth season because he was working on This Is Spinal Tap (1984). Squiggy (David L. Lander) usually appears alone in this season. Ironically McKean was working with Penny Marshall's husband on that project, Rob Reiner.
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Shirley's middle name was Wilhemina, after her late grandmother.
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While still a defensive end with the L.A. Rams, actor Fred Dryer made his television debut in a 30 second spot as a lifeguard in Laverne's dream sequence in the 6th season premiere "Not Quite New York".
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Penny Marshall has said her favorite episode is "Why Did The Fireman?...", one of the few very serious episodes on the show. The plot has Laverne's boyfriend Randy (played by Ted Danson) dying while fighting a fire. Laverne becomes depressed and goes into denial, and then her father has to talk her out of it.
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The name of the club that Laverne and Shirley belonged to as teenagers was called the Angora Debs.
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Shirley's good luck charm was Boo-Boo Kitty, a cloth cat.
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Cindy Williams has said she was fired due to her pregnancy, but the producers deny this.
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When the girls moved to Burbank the show flashed forward about 5 years.
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Shirley Feeney had a New York accent for the first thirteen episodes. Gary Marshall eventually told her to drop it because people in the midwest do not have Brooklyn accents. She was grateful that he did.
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Cyndi Grecco was singing in a band at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Los Angeles in 1975. Composer Charles Fox, while at the amusement park with his kids, heard her voice and offered her the theme song "Making Our Dreams Come True" which became a top 20 hit and ran the length of the show.
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After they shot the Happy Days episode A Date With Fonzie which introduced audiences to Laverne and Shirley, ABC immediately approached Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall about starring in their own spin-off series. Penny said yes, and Cindy said no. Cindy had just starred in American Graffiti and the Conversation, both big hits in the early 70s, and was busy auditioning for movies like Star Wars and still had dreams of being a movie star. So ABC casting executive Michael Eisner recast the Shirley part with an actress named Liberty Williams, no relation to Cindy. Liberty Williams was an ABC extra and stock player at this point, known primarily for doing voice over work playing Jayna, one of the Wonder Twins, on ABCs Saturday morning cartoon hit The Superfriends. Liberty Williams and Penny Marshall filmed a couple scenes together as the new Laverne and Shirley, and this was presented to the ABC executives who gave it the go ahead, ready to film the new series with Liberty in the lead, not Cindy. The new pairing was good, but not great. Who knows if given time Liberty Williams could have grown into the role and the pairing could have become something special, but it seemed to lack the chemistry that Cindy and Penny, who were friends in real life, had. ABC began to prepare the girls for the new series, but Garry Marshall pled with Cindy one last time to take the role, and finally she relented, and the rest is history. Except in an ABC vault somewhere there's the screen test in it showing Liberty Williams as Shirley, never seen by the general public. Michael Eisner talks about all of this on an Emmy TV Legends interview which can be seen on YouTube.
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Squiggy's real first name was Andrew.
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The girls were originally going to smoke during the Happy Days spin-off episode. But the censors said no, so they changed it to gum-chewing.
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Garry Marshall's children say that they while they were always allowed to visit the Happy Days set (and even acted on the series) they were not allowed to visit the Laverne & Shirley set, mostly due to the constant fighting between the costars.
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Penny Marshall would direct Eddie Mekka (Carmine), David L. Lander (Squiggy), and her brother Garry Marshall (series creator) in A League of Their Own.
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Garry Marshall has said in interviews that when he conceptualized this show he was basically re-doing Lucy and Ethel schtick from "I Love Lucy". This makes sense since Marshall himself worked for Lucille Ball on "The Lucy Show" before starting the long run of his own productions which began with "The Odd Couple".
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Frank DeFazio, Laverne's father, owns The Pizza Bowl, a combination pizza parlor and bowling alley.
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Carmine was a Golden Gloves champion before becoming a dance instructor.
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Laverne's favorite drink was milk and Pepsi.
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Ron Howard and Cindy Williams would co-star in the Happy Days/Laverne and Shirley crossover episode "Shotgun Wedding" in the fall of 1979. That same year they co-starred as a couple also in "More American Graffiti"(1979)
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Schlitz is the name of the real brewery in Milwaukee.
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Though they reportedly fought all the time during Laverne and Shirley production, both actresses have said in interviews that they remain very close and are still the best of friends, in spite of all their fighting on the show and everything that has happened. "She's my sister," Cindy Williams said of Penny Marshall in a recent Emmy TV Legends interview.
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Laverne, Shirley, Lenny, Squiggy and Carmine all went to Filmore High School. On the Brady Bunch the Brady kids all went to a Filmore Junior High as well. The High School Edith Bunker graduated from also beared that name.
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Laverne always wears the letter "L". Sometimes she has one "L" on her skirt and another "L" on her blouse.
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ABC developed a cartoon spinoff of Laverne and Shirley called "Laverne and Shirley In the Army Now," starring Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall playing their title roles, and ABC'S Ron Pallilo AKA Horshack from Welcome Back Kotter playing a pig-sargeant. This was put into play right after a spinoff was scrapped that would have starred David Lander and Michael McKean as Lenny and Squiggy in a service comedy; also called "In the Army Now."
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After Cindy Williams quit "Laverne and Shirley" the animated version of Shirley Feeney was taken over by her friend Lynne Marie Stewart for the animated "Mork And Mindy, Laverne And Shirley, and The Fonze Hour" show on Saturday mornings on ABC.
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Gilda Radner was almost cast as Shirley. Who knows if Radner would have shot to fame in Saturday Night Live if this happened; since she performed on SNL from 1975-1980; and Laverne and Shirley filmed it's spinoff episode in Happy Days; "A Date With Fonzie"; in 1975 also.
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Ron Howard and Cindy Williams would co-star in the Happy Days/Laverne and Shirley crossover episode "Shotgun Wedding" in the fall of 1979. That same year they co-starred as a couple also in "More American Graffiti"(1979). They were married in the Shotgun Wedding episode, and married in More American Graffiti also.
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Bruce Kimmell appears in the good time girls episode as a suitor for Shirley, (Cindy Williams). That same year (1976), Cindy Williams also played Bruce Kimmel's girlfriend in a movie he directed and that they starred in together: The First Nudie Musical (1976).
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The show was satirized in Mad Magazine as "Lavoine and Shoiley".
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Penny Marshall is the only actress to appear in every episode of the series.
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Shotgun Wedding was the last Laverne and Shirley/Happy Days crossover event. (There had been several during the course of both shows). After that Richie, Fonzie and the Happy Days gang never appeared on the show again. They never even mentioned them again.
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Penny Marshall stated in interviews that she did not want to come back for the series eighth season once she learned Cindy Williams planned to depart the show after only a couple of episodes. Marshall was on vacation on Long Island when her agent called her up and told her that ABC planned to sue her if she didn't return. Marshall agreed to return but told ABC executive Gary Nardini that since Williams was no longer on the show she wanted to be payed double the amount per episode and have a larger stake in ownership in the show. Nardini agreed but Marshall later found out that despite not being in most of season eight Cindy Williams had also received ownership or "points" in season eight episodes in which she wasn't in which angered Marshall. When season eight of the series pulled in decent ratings, finishing number 25 for the year, ABC wanted Marshall to return for a ninth season. Marshall said she would return only after a substantial salary increase and for the series to be filmed in New York. ABC rejected the demands and thus ended the series.
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Laverne's middle name is Marie.
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In the early seasons, when they were still in Milwaukee, Shirley would call Laverne "Verny" a lot. She stopped doing that once they moved to Burbank.
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In the 1970s Penny Marshall appeared concurrently on four different shows: Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Odd Couple, and Mary Tyler Moore Show. She played Laverne Defazio on Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley and appeared on Mork and Mindy playing this character as well. She also played Myrna Turner on Odd Couple. She also played Janice Dreyfus on Mary Tyler Moore Show.
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Charles Grodin appeared on an episode of Laverne and Shirley as himself. In the episode both Laverne and Shirley are madly in love with him, and Lenny and Squiggy are totally starstruck. This doesn't make any sense because in the 1960s when this episode is supposed to take place, Charles Grodin was a little known TV actor and hadn't done any movies yet. (The episode takes place in 66, and Grodin made his film debut as a supporting player in 1968s classic Rosemary's Baby).
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Originally the full title of the show was officially "Laverne Defazio and Shirley Feeney", " Laverne and Shirley" for short. At least that's what the opening credits said for the first couple of episodes.
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Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams were against the show moving from Milwaukee to Burbank. They also disliked show's jump in its timeline to the mid-sixties thus losing its 1950's feel. Both actresses felt that in sunny California nobody looks poor, even if they are, whereas as the older less glamorous Milwaukee fostered that feeling of two young girls struggling against the world. Marshall tried to convince her brother Garry that if the show was to move anyplace it should be east to New York, where Laverne's family was originally from. New York would allow the show to hold on to that gritty urban feel but Garry Marshall nixed that idea stating California would open the storylines involving the girls trying to get close to show business. This in turn would allow for many big name guest stars to appear on the series.
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Eddie Mekka (Carmine Ragussa) was cast before Michael McKean and David Lander (AKA Lenny and Squiggy) were.
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Betty Garrett played recurring characters Irene Lorenzo on All in the Family and Edna Babbish on Laverne and Shirley, but contrary to popular belief, not concurrently. She left All in the Family in the middle of the '75-'76 television season, then debuted on Laverne and Shirley in October 1976.
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In the show's pilot they say the street the girls live on is "Campton." Later in the series they said it's Knapp. In one episode Shirley says the men in her family are all short. Later, when Ed Begley junior does a cameo on the show as her brother; we see they are actually very tall. (The father comes on the show and he is very tall also).
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In a recent Emmy TV Legends interview, Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall both said they loved Garry Marshall; that he was a wonderful producer. "But don't talk to him while he's eating an Egg Salad sandwich", Williams said. "It's really disgusting".
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Cindy Williams decided to leave the show in 1982. For some reason Gary Marshall did not think of replacing her with the actress that was originally cast in the Shirley role; Liberty Williams. After the spinoff Happy Days episode where Laverne and Shirley first appeared, A Date With Fonzie; in which Shirley was played by Cindy Williams; the part was recast by ABC stock player Liberty Williams for the pilot. The new actress had test screened for the network; and everyone agreed she played the Shirley part well; (if not fanstastically like Cindy Williams did); and she was given the go ahead to do the part. As they were in preproduction and preparing to start filming; Gary Marshall desperately called Cindy Williams and begged her one last time to reconsider and then miraculously; at the last minute; she did. But once Cindy Williams left in 1982 they could have easily gone back to their original choice. This worked well enough on Three's Company where ABC was going through similar issues with the departure of Suzanne Sommers; they could have done the same thing on Laverne and Shirley and it could have worked. They could have also replaced Williams with Gilda Radner; who was free at the time, and had originally auditioned for the Shirley part as well.
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Two people played Shirley Feeney during the 1981-1982 tv season. Cindy Williams played her on ABC's Primetime live action sitcom, and then Lynne Marie Sweet played her on the 1981-1982 Saturday morning cartoon spinoff called Laverne and Shirley In the Army Now.
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Both Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams were writing for Francis Ford Coppola when Garry Marshall called them to do a cameo on Happy Days. Everyone in Hollywood was working for Coppola and American Zoetrope. his studio; at that point; including BFFs Steven Spielberg and George Lucas; as well as Teri Garr and many others. They were the film brats; they were all a big clique.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

As of December 4, 2020, after the passing of David L. Lander, the only surviving cast members are Cindy Williams, Michael McKean, and Eddie Mekka.
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In the episode, "Call Me a Taxi" from season two, Laverne and Shirley are laid off at the brewery and they become taxi dancers. Laverne's first dance partner of the night was also from season one's episode, "How Do You Say Are You Dead in German?" in which the same actor played a different character named Eric, who was a German immigrant that was fired from the dry cleaners.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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