Laverne & Shirley TV show: About the sitcom, plus theme song & lyrics (1976-1983)

Vintage Laverne and Shirley cast photo

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Laverne & Shirley was a series about two spirited young women — Penny Marshall as Laverne DeFazio and Cindy Williams as Shirley Feeney — who worked in a brewery and managed to have fun on and off the job in Milwaukee in the 1950s.

Laverne & Shirley ran on ABC from January 27, 1976 to May 10, 1983. The comedy also starred Michael McKean and David L Lander as Lenny & Squiggy, Eddie Mekka as Carmine Ragusa, Phil Foster as Frank DeFazio, and Betty Garrett as Edna Babish.

Like Mork & Mindy, the sitcom was originally a spinoff of Happy Days.

Fonzie with Laverne and Shirley on Happy Days
Fonzie with Laverne and Shirley on Happy Days

Laverne & Shirley opening credits – lyrics

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.
Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!

“Making Our Dreams Come True”
Written by Charles Fox & Norman Gimbel / Sung by Cyndi Grecco
(Download the theme song from Amazon here)

We’re gonna do it!
Give us any chance, we’ll take it.
Give us any rule, we’ll break it.
We’re gonna make our dreams come true.
Doin’ it our way.

Nothin’s gonna turn us back now,
Straight ahead and on the track now.
We’re gonna make our dreams come true,
Doin’ it our way.

There is nothing we won’t try,
Never heard the word impossible.
This time there’s no stopping us.
We’re gonna do it.

On your mark, get set and go now,
Got a dream and we just know now,
We’re gonna make our dream come true.
And we’ll do it our way, yes our way.
Make all our dreams come true,
And do it our way, yes our way,
Make all our dreams come true
For me and you.

Laverne & Shirley show opening video clip

YouTube video

‘Laverne and Shirley’ was a quick winner

By Don Shirley in the Star-Gazette (Elmira, New York) March 06, 1976

Shirley Feeney: “I’m laughing at the same things I laughed at four years ago.”

LaVerne de Fazio: “Yeah. Because they’re still funny.” — From last week’s episode of “Laverne and Shirley.”

What were “Laverne and Shirley” laughing at? Get this — a man dressed only in his underwear walked unexpectedly into a room of mixed company. In 1959. Re-enacting a stunt from four years earlier.

This may not sound like the freshest act in town, but don’t tell ABC. “Laverne and Shirley,” which debuted on ABC on Jan. 27 (and is on every Tuesday night), is the quickest television hit since 1968.

Laverne and Shirley vintage TV show cast

“Faster than an Olympic skier,” gasped the ad in Variety. “Able to leap over comedies, dramas and detective thrillers in a single bound. Look! Up in the ratings! It’s no bird. It’s no plane. It’s… Number 1 ‘Laverne and Shirley.'”

About 50 million people are watching a series about two spunky young women who work in a brewery and manage to have a barrel of fun on and off the job as they face life in Milwaukee in the 1950s.

What’s going on? Archie Bunker, Lucy, Mary Richards and the “Happy Days” gang are getting together.

“It seems to be time for blue-collar comedy,” said Garry Marshall, chief writer for “Laverne and Shirley” and executive producer of it and “Happy Days” with Thomas L Miller and Edward K Milkis.

Laverne and Shirley opening titles

Archie Bunker works on a loading dock, and a rash of blue-collar comedies, often ethnic, have followed in his wake. So Laverne and Shirley work in a brewery (Marshall considered an ad agency but said: “I couldn’t find the humor in it”). And their families are Italian and Irish, respectively.

“I feel the country misses Lucy very badly,” added Marshall. So Laverne and Shirley get involved in Lucyish situations.

But since the advent of Mary Richards, it’s not cool for women on television to rely on a Desi to untangle their problems. So Laverne and Shirley are single, live together without men, and rely on each other. They do all this in 1959.

Which is where “Happy Days,” from which “Laverne and Shirley” was spun off, comes in. “Happy Days” is back in the 1950s too, but the resemblance is more superficial than it looks. Laverne and Shirley were minor characters on “Happy Days” three times.

Lenny and Squiggy (Michael McKean and David L Lander) on Laverne and Shirley
Lenny and Squiggy (Michael McKean and David L Lander) on Laverne and Shirley

ABC programming chief Fred Silverman wanted a “Happy Days” spinoff, asked for Fonzie, got Laverne and Shirley, and approved their show on the basis of a 10-minute tape of Penny Marshall (Laverne) and Cindy Williams (Shirley) chatting.

The birth of “Laverne and Shirley” was a sudden decision, not the inevitable product of “Happy Days,” which is oriented around the suburbs, the high school, the family.

“Laverne and Shirley” is in “a not-so-nice part of Milwaukee,” said Garry Marshall. Its characters are three years out of high school and look older (Penny Marshall is 32, Williams is 28). Their parents are widowed or divorced.

Laverne and Shirley stars with bowling balls (1975)

“‘Laverne and Shirley’ is much hipper than ‘Happy Days,'” said Marshall. “They don’t hang out at the malt shop. And the pizza place (which Laverne’s father owns) is full of servicemen and hardhats.” There’s even going to be a strike at the brewery.

Currently, Laverne and Shirley are much hipper than ABC, too. The network censors “don’t like girls talking about sex,” said Penny Marshall. A discussion of “putting out” was replaced with talk of “petting” and being “very… friendly.”

A reference to “wait-for-the-wedding-night Feeney” will probably have to go. “What could be cleaner than that?” asks Williams.

Penny Marshall points to the same problem in costuming. “I thought we should wear black neckerchiefs, tight pants and have our hair in rollers most of the time,” she said. “But ABC wants two nice girls and the ability to say ‘Oh my, look at the situation they get in this week.'”

Penny Marshall and Rob Reiner on People magazine (1976)

“It’s comedy that’s been around since the word was invented,” said Williams. “We’re playing sketch and farce mixed together. It’s much faster clipped than today’s comedy. It’s set-up, set-up, PUNCH. Stuff we wanted to do since we saw Lucille Ball, stuff that had been done hundreds of years before us. We did one ‘message’ episode — it didn’t turn out too well.”

Penny Marshall is married to Rob Reiner, one of the stars of “All in the Family,” the pioneer of the newer comedy. This is not a source of tension.

“Rob hopes ‘Laverne and Shirley’ is a big hit,” says his wife, “so he can play tennis for a while and I make the money.”

Laverne and Shirley bowling shirts

Laverne & Shirley: The Complete Series
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03/12/2024 01:05 am GMT

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