12 Behind The Scene Facts About Laverne And Shirley
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Laverne & Shirley was one of the rare spinoffs that eventually surpassed its parent series (Happy Days) in the ratings. Despite its popularity, there was a lot of unhappiness behind the scenes, due mainly to the sudden success of the show. Luckily time has healed most of those old wounds and the cast members are all on friendly terms today. We spoke with series co-creator Mark Rothman, who helped us uncover some things you might not know about the beloved sitcom.
1. The Happy Days spinoff sparked after Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams guest-starred as Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney on Season 3’s “A Date with Fonzie” episode of Happy Days. The characters, factory workers who went on a double date with The Fonz (Henry Winkler) and Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard), were popular with viewers, so when ABC exec Fred Silverman asked producer Garry Marshall for another idea to help the network build a Tuesday night comedy block, Laverne & Shirley became ABC’s next big hit. P.S. Williams briefly dated Henry Winkler, though in the Happy Days ep, Laverne was Fonzie’s date.
2. Series stars Marshall and Williams appeared to be having fun as the titular BFFs, Shotz Brewery co-workers and Milwaukee roommates, but Laverne & Shirley creator (and Penny Marshall’s brother) Garry Marshall describes the workplace as very chaotic, with so much cursing by the show’s stars that he was afraid to let his children visit the L&S set. “I overheard someone say that the cast of Happy Days puts cups up to the wall so they can hear Penny and Cindy screaming at the writers. Is that true?” Marshall reported his then-11-year-old daughter asking him, in his 2012 memoir My Happy Days in Hollywood.
3. Laverne & Shirley debuted on January 27, 1976, and was the No. 1 show on TV that week. The No. 1 show of the season that year: All in the Family, which starred Penny Marshall’s then-husband, Rob Reiner.
4. The show was such an immediate hit that Marshall and Williams were asked to record an album, Laverne & Shirley Sing, in 1976. That November, they sang one of the album’s songs, a cover of The Crystals’s hit “Da Do Ron Ron,” on a float during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And yes, the album is available on iTunes. They also performed the song in the Season 2 episode “Citizen Crane,” when music impresario Charles Pfister Crane tried to turn them into a girl group called The Rosebuds.
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