Laverne & Shirley: Then And Now | KiwiReport

Laverne & Shirley: Then And Now

Then: Penny Marshall

Penny Marshall was one of the sitcom’s leading ladies – the famous Laverne DeFazio. Laverne was a street-wise tomboy who grew in up in Brooklyn with her Italian immigrant parents. After her family moved to Milwaukee when she was she a kid, her mother passed away. She was the antithesis of her roommate and best friend, Shirley. Laverne was known for two key elements: her ‘L’ monogram and her love of Pepsi Milk.


Now: Penny Marshall

After Laverne & Shirley was canceled in 1983, Penny Marshall pursued a career behind the scenes. She became a successful director and producer, who worked on shows like According to Jim and Bewitched. Some of her most famous projects include Cinderella Man, Big, Awakenings, and A League of their Own. She has been married twice; once to Rob Reiner and to her first husband, Michael Henry.


Then: Cindy Williams

Cindy Williams played Shirley Feeney, the perky schoolgirl type who loved Laverne almost as much as her Boo Boo Kitty. Shirley lived with Laverne until the 8th season of the show, when she met her Army Medic husband and moved overseas to be with him and start a family. In real life, Cindy Williams had become pregnant and Paramount refused to accommodate her through her pregnancy. She left the show and embarked on a new phase in her life.


Now: Cindy Williams

After leaving Laverne & Shirley, Cindy had 2 children and remained married to her husband, Bill Hudson, until 2000. Until the early 90’s, Cindy and her former co-star, Penny, engaged in a private feud as a result of her leaving the show. Eventually, the two friends and fellow actresses reconciled. Cindy has made appearances on television in Normal Life, Getting By, and 8 Simple Rules. In 2007, she made her broadway debut in The Drowsy Chaperone.

Then: David L. Lander

David L. Lander played the lovable goofball Andrew “Squiggy” Squiggman on Laverne & Shirley until the show’s final season. Squiggy lives in the apartment upstairs from Laverne and Shirley with his roommate, Lenny. As a character, Squiggy was fairly obnoxious and at times, the most annoying member of the sitcom ensemble. He was obsessed with his stuffed iguana, Jeffrey, and was always hatching a new get-rich-quick scheme that was seemingly half-baked. Fans recognized this character before he made his on-screen entrance by his trademark greeting “hello.”


Now: David L. Lander

After his Laverne & Shirley days, David L. Lander made few publicized appearances and lived a moderate lifestyle. He married his second wife, Kathy Fields, in 1979 and they have one daughter together named Natalie. He did, however, continue to work in the entertainment industry as a voice-over actor, composer, and a musician. At one point, Lander was a baseball scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Seattle Miners. Previously, he also acted as the Goodwill Ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.


Then: Michael McKean

Lenny, the childhood friend and roommate of Squiggy, was the second half of the sitcom’s hilarious duo. As a character, Lenny claims to be 89th in line to the Polish throne and has “mommy” issues that began shortly after his mother abandoned him, forced to be raised by his single father. Played by Michael McKean, Lenny works as a truck driver at the brewery where Laverne and Shirley work. Outside of the show, as an ironic joke of sorts obviously, Lenny and Squiggy had a band; Lenny & The Squigtones. They released one album underneath Casablanca Records in 1979.


Now: Michael McKean

Michael McKean is a successful actor, comedian, composer, and writer. He had a collection of recurring characters as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, starred as Chuck McGill in the ABC drama Better Call Saul, won a Grammy Award for Best Written Song for a Motion Picture, and is the guitarist and lead vocalist of fictional band, Spinal Tap. Since Laverne & Shirley ended, McKean reinvented his career without entirely switching genres. In the biz, this can be quite difficult to accomplish. He’s been married to Annette O’Toole since 1999.


Then: Eddie Mekka

In his most famous role throughout his career, Eddie Mekka starred in Laverne & Shirley as Carmine “The Big Ragoo” Ragusa until the series ended. Aside from his character on the hit sitcom, Eddie was a celebrated Broadway performer. For his performance in The Lieutenant, he was nominated for a Tony Award. He’s also appeared in shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, 24, and The Bold & The Beautiful. In Penny Marshall’s A League of their Own, Mekka made a small, cameo appearance.


Now: Eddie Mekka

During the 2000’s, Eddie professionally transitioned back to the stage and starred in Hairspray at the Luxor Theater in Las Vegas, and then starred opposite his former co-star, Cindy Williams, in the stage production of Grease. Eddie returned to Off-Broadway in 2008, in My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish & I’m In Therapy! at the famous Westside Theatre. In 2010, he played Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof in New York for half a year in 2010. Today, he is 64 years old and has been married to his second wife Yvonne Grace, since 1994.


Then: Phil Foster

Phil Foster attained his role on Laverne & Shirley after he was asked to appear on The Odd Couple. While he was living in Fort Lee, New Jersey, he became a comedy writer for high-profile Hollywood entertainers such as Joe Bishop. On Laverne & Shirley, he played Frank DeFazio, the single father of Laverne. In the show, he runs The Pizza Bowl and acts as an overprotective father to Shirley in the absence of her immediate family who is far away. The character naturally lost his temper from time to time, but it was important for producers to often exemplify his heart of gold.

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 19: LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY - Gallery - 10/19/76 - Phil Foster (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

Now: Phil Foster

After Laverne & Shirley, Phil Foster made many television appearances on shows that include The Ed Sullivan Show, Love Boat, Toast of the Town, This Is Show Business, and The Patty Duke Show. In his spare time, Foster ran a comedy workshop for young actors trying to get their start in the entertainment industry. He stated “They have new, fresh ideas and I love helping them get started. The only thing I ask in return is that when these youngsters are established, they help others on their way.” At the age of 72, Phil Foster passed away of a myocardial infarction. He is survived by 2 children.


Then: Betty Garrett

Betty Garrett played Edna Babish, the 5-time divorcee and landlady to Laverne and Shirley. In the show, she eventually became Edna Babish DeFazio after she married Laverne’s father, Frank. She was frequently seen performing in the local brewery talent competitions. The audience was surprised to see that Betty Garrett didn’t return for the final seasons of the series and her character was written off, the storyline stating that she ran out on Frank. In real life, Betty had made a prior commitment to another project and chose not to renew her contract with Laverne & Shirley.


Now: Betty Garrett

Aside from the Laverne & Shirley, Betty also played a recurring role on another popular 70’s sitcom, All in the Family, as a liberal neighbor that often annoyed Archie Bunker. During the 2000’s, Betty made cameo appearances on television shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Becker, and Boston Public. Throughout her career, she was recognized at 2 prominent award ceremonies – a Golden Globe in 1974 for her role as Irene Lorenzo in All in the Family and an Ovation nomination for a performance in a stage production of Waiting in the Wings. For a short time during her career, she was blacklisted in Hollywood for her connections to the Communist regime. Betty passed away in 2011, at the age of 91.


Then: Carole Ita White

Carole Ita White was a fan favorite on the show; she played Rosie Greenbaum, a childhood nemesis that followed Laverne & Shirley into their adulthood. The girls call her “Big” Rosie and she’s the primary enemy of Laverne throughout the series. She is married to a proctologist, and in spite of Laverne and Shirley’s offensive jokes about his profession, Rosie still brags about her husband’s wealth. Carole Ita makes her final appearance as Rosie in the season 7 episode “Class of ’56” at Laverne and Shirley’s high school reunion.


Now: Carole Ita White

Carole continued to act in minor roles after Laverne & Shirley ended. She appeared in Love Boat, Mary Hartman, Beverly Hills 90210, The Wayans Brothers, and Profiler. Films that she had small performances in are Falling Down, The Witches of Eastwick, Grand Canyon, The Fabulous Baker Boys, and Wannabe. In 2010, she announced her advocacy for LGBT movement and came out as a bi-sexual, who remained in the closet for many years prior. Today, she is 67 years old and resides in New York, New York.


Then: Ed Marinaro

Ed Marinaro was known as Laverne and Shirley’s landlord in Burbank and worked as a stuntman for his day job. Ed Marinaro’s character was supposed to be a love interest for Penny Marshall’s Laverne but he was written out of the show after several episodes; Marinaro decided to leave Laverne & Shirley to star in Hill Street Blues. Before his departure, he was seen on-screen as the muscular, shirtless, hunk named Sonny St. Jacques.


Now: Ed Marinaro

Before he joined the cast of Laverne & Shirley, Ed Marinaro was an American football player who scored 3 touchdowns over the length of his athletic career and played in 2 Superbowl Games. He played for the New York Jets, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Seattle Seahawks. After his acting career took off, he starred on Hill Street Blues for 5 years as Officer Joe Coffey and then transitioned to film in the 2000’s. Today, Marinaro has a son with fitness guru Tracy York.


Then: Jay Leno

Jay Leno once made a cameo on Laverne & Shirley as Penny Marshall’s love interest. In the episode, Jay Leno plays Joey Mitchell, a friend of Laverne’s who considers her to be just “one of the boys.” To try and capture the heart of Jay Leno, Shirley tries to teach Laverne how to be more like a “girly-girl.” When Laverne finally gains the affections her love interest, by way of her “deadly Shirley shimmy walk,” Leno’s character immediately reveals himself to be a misogynist and she automatically gives him the boot. And there you have it, folks – Jay Leno’s once in a lifetime cameo.


Now: Jay Leno

We don’t have to tell you what Jay Leno is up to today but you know we’re going to give you all the details, regardless. He hosted The Tonight Show with Jay Leno for almost 20 years before retiring in 2010. For a brief period of 2 months in 2010, the host controversy took over the internet waves and the great debate began Jay Leno and Conan O’Brian fans soon took off. The feud between the equally popular television personalities ended with the agreement that Leno’s Tonight Show would keep its original time slot and Conan’s late night show moved to TBS. In 2014, Jay Leno was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame after his retirement.


Then: Jim Belushi

In season 8, episode 9 Jim Belushi guest-starred as a character named “Wheezer” on Laverne & Shirley. In the episode, Wheezer is Laverne’s new boyfriend and seeks the help of Laverne’s father, Frank DeFazio, after failing to stand up to 2 jerks who pestered Laverne and Carmine’s date while on a group outing. As usual, in class comedic fashion, the plan to give Jim Belushi’s character a confidence boost doesn’t turn out as Laverne expects it to and she needs to come to her boyfriend’s rescue at the end of the episode.


Now: Jim Belushi

Jim Belushi has become one of the cinema greats over the course of his 40+ year career. He’s starred in internationally applauded films like Theif, Little Shop of Horrors, Who’s Harry Crumb?, Jingle All The Way, Ghost Writer, and Red Heat. However, the role he’s most recognized and praised for is as Jim Orenthal on the long running tv series According to Jim. The show ran from 2001-2009. Belushi also belongs to a Hollywood Dynasty, as he is the brother of deceased comic John Belushi and the father to Robert Belushi.


Then: Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher made a memorable appearance as a Playboy Bunny on Laverne & Shirley. Laverne is conned by her blonde, obnoxious neighbor, Rhonda, to go pick up an application for her at The Playboy Club. Laverne gets roped into waitressing as a bunny herself and soon shares a singing duet with Carrie Fisher, entertaining a visiting Hugh Hefner in the process. Carrie Fisher stole the show (as we knew she would), and sings her heart on top of the piano.


Now: Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher continued to pursue her successful career as an actress and a Star Wars icon, later authoring a collection of her own books including an autobiography. Throughout the 90’s, she dealt with substance abuse issues and rehabilitated herself before returning to the spotlight in the early 2000’s. In 2016, Carrie passed away one day before her mother, Debbie Reynolds, after going into cardiac arrest during a flight from London to California. She leaves behind a daughter and actress. Billie Lourd.


Then: Harry Shearer

Harry Shearer shares an interesting history with the cast of Laverne & Shirley. Shearer used to belong to a radio comedy group named The Credibility Gap, along with Michael McKean and David L. Lander. Yes! Lenny and Squiggy! However, McKean and Lander left the comedy group to star full-time in Laverne & Shirley and wouldn’t meet Shearer again until he guest-starred a few years later. Besides the 2 episodes he appeared on, he’s also credited script writing for Laverne & Shirley.


Now: Harry Shearer

Harry Shearer is a longtime cast member of The Simspons and held a regular spot on Saturday Night Live. His comedic career, from a performance and writing standpoint, has flourished immensely. On The Simpsons, he voiced Mr. Burns, Waylon Smithers, Principal Skinner, Ned Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy, Kent Brockman, and Dr. Hibbert. He’s also starred in films such as The Truman Show and A Mighty Wind. Today, Shearer has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a Primetime Emmy, and has been nominated for countless Emmy’s and Golden Globes throughout his career.


Then: Julie Brown

As a young actress, Julie Brown made one of her first guest appearances on Laverne & Shirley. She appeared as Secretary Patti in 2 episodes; in season 7 she appeared in the “Rocky Ragu” and in season 8 she appeared in “The Note,” where Laverne was interviewing new roommate prospects after Cindy Williams’ departure from the show. Julie also had some small roles on other popular show during the time like Happy Days, The Jeffersons, Newhart, and Quantum Leap. As her career lengthened, she made many more film appearances than most people realize…


Now: Julie Brown

During the 80’s, Brown was known for playing the “quintessential valley girl character” but has also had roles in Earth Girls Are Easy, Aladdin, and Disney’s Camp Rock. Her most recognizable role amongst 90’s audiences was as Coach Steogger in the Clueless movie, a part she reprised in the tv-show version of the film, as well. Julie Brown continues to focus on her active sketch comedy career today and has one child with her second husband, Ken Rathjen, whom she recently divorced from.



Then: Charlene Tilton

Charlene Tilton has a fleeting moment of Laverne & Shirley fame before she became an iconic character on Dallas. She played in a 2-part episode as an unnamed Blonde, however, Tilton’s career took off after her small role. She also appeared on Happy Days and Eight Is Enough. She made her film breakthrough alongside Jodie Foster in the original Freaky Friday and then she played Lucy Ewing, the siren granddaughter of Jock and Ellie, on popular 70s’s drama, Dallas. Tilton made a one-time cameo on Knot’s Landing in 1980, the spin-off to Dallas.


Now: Charlene Tilton

Today, Charlene Tilton is playing Lucy Ewing for loyal Dallas fans. In 2012, she joined TNT’s revival of the iconic series and reprised her role as Lucy for several episodes. She has been honored with a Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award, competed on the British reality show Dancing on Ice, and appeared in a few low-budget, satirical films. Tilton has 1 child named Cherish Lee who was born in 1982 and has been married 2 times. Her last partner, Cheddy Hart, died suddenly in 2009 after an abrupt heart attack.


Then: Leslie Easterbrook

Leslie Easterbrook is famous for her role as the ditzy, largely-busted, blonde neighbor who inconveniences Laverne & Shirley after they move to Burbank. Leslie’s character, Rhonda Lee, is an actress/singer/model who is trying desperately to get her big break. She is usually seen entering the girls’ apartment without warning, bragging about her social and romantic life, and borrows items she simply never intends to return. The most frustrating characteristic the Rhonda character possesses is her habit of referring to her herself in the 3rd person when speaking.


Now: Leslie Easterbrook

Leslie Easterbrook’s role on Laverne & Shirley isn’t her only claim to fame. Easterbrook is widely recognized as Sergeant, Lieutenant, and then Captain, Debbie Callahan in the Police Academy franchise. Aside from her 2 most famous roles, she can also been seen in episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard, Baywatch, Matlock, Hunter, Murder, She Wrote, Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, and Ryan’s Hope. In the sequel to Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses, she played Mother Firefly, replacing the original actress Karen Black.