1 9 7 6 – 1 9 8 3 (USA)
178 x 30 minute episodes
“Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”
Laverne and Shirley was the first spin-off from Happy Days, where the characters Laverne De Fazio and Shirley Feeney had made their debut as friends of Fonzie.
It took place in the 1950s, and Laverne and Shirley were lifetime best friends, and graduates of Fillmore High School, who shared an apartment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Apartment A at 730 Knapp Street). They also shared the same job, both working on an assembly line at the local brewery (Shotz) as bottle-cappers.
Irish Catholic Laverne (Penny Marshall) was rash and defensive, while Shirley (Cindy Williams), an Irish Protestant, was naive and trusting.
Laverne loved milk and Pepsi, Scooter Pies and peanut butter and sauerkraut on raisin bread sandwiches. She wore a large capital “L” on all her clothes, including her lingerie.
Shirley was famous for the Shirley Feeney scarf dance, had a plush cat named Boo Boo Kitty, and used the Feeney family traditional greetings “Hi-Yooo” (for hello) and “Bye-Yooo” (for goodbye).
Shirley had a guy who she dated but always kept at an arm’s length (she was a good girl and not a bimbo) named Carmine Ragusa, aka “The Big Ragu” (Eddie Mekka), who worked as a singing messenger.
Typical plots involved the traumas of being a single, working girl and the extent that they would go to get a date or simply improve their standard of living – by putting on a talent show or beating their high school rival, Rosie Greenbaum (Carole Ita White) at bowling.
Their neighbours – Lenny Kosnowski (Michael McKean) and Andrew ‘Squiggy’ Squiggman (David L Lander) – were a couple of greasers that also worked at the Brewery.
Lenny liked horror movies and sports. He also had a pet turtle, but it killed itself trying to scratch Lenny’s name off its back.
Squiggy, whose prized possession was his moth collection, was “blessed” with the Squigman birthmark (a big red blotch shaped like Abraham Lincoln).
Laverne’s father, Frank (Phil Foster), a loudmouthed Italian, turned up frequently, as he owned the gang’s favourite hangout, the Pizza Bowl (a pizzeria and bowling alley).
Rounding out the cast of regulars was Edna Babish (Betty Garrett), the girls’ landlady, who was always full of good advice, and later started dating (and ultimately married) Laverne’s dad.
Laverne and Shirley was extremely popular for the first few years. Even the shows theme song was a top 25 single in the Summer of 1976.
In the 1980 season, to give the show some fresh plot ideas, the entire cast moved to Los Angeles, where the girls attempted to break into showbiz and took on many hilarious odd jobs.
They acquired an apartment at 113½ Laurel Vista Drive in Los Angeles and found employment in the gift wrapping department of Bardwell’s Department Store.
Lenny and Squiggy became co-owners of the Squignoski Talent Agency of Burbank, and ice cream vendors with a truck called Squignoski’s Ice Cream.
As talent agents, they wrote a movie called Blood Orgy of the Amazon and searched for young starlets to star in it.
Frank and Edna, now married, opened up a restaurant called Cowboy Bobs together where Laverne and Shirley occasionally worked. Once in L.A. we also met new neighbours Rhonda (Leslie Easterbrook), an obnoxious, aspiring actress, and stuntman Sonny St. Jacques (Ed Marinaro).
Laverne and Shirley remained in primetime until the end of the 1983 season. In the show’s final year, Cindy Williams left the show after becoming pregnant, and Penny Marshall remained with the show being renamed simply, Laverne.
The duo were also seen on ABC as Saturday morning cartoons from 81-83 – first Laverne and Shirley In The Army and then Laverne and Shirley with The Fonz.
Penny Marshall died in Los Angeles on 17 December 2018, at the age of 75. According to her death certificate, the causes were cardiopulmonary failure, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus type 1.
David Lander died of complications from multiple sclerosis at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, on 4 December 2020. He was 73 years old
Eddie Mekka passed away in December 2021 at the age of 69.
Laverne De Fazio
Andrew ‘Squiggy’ Squiggman
David L Lander
Frank De Fazio
Edna Babish/De Fazio
Carole Ita White
Sonny St Jacques