Behind the Scenes: Laverne and Shirley

Behind The Scenes

Laverne & Shirley

" You know, you're always scared of failing..." ~Penny Marshall

Cindy didn't want to do televison. She thought that she was much better doing stage theatre and films, but Penny talked her into it -

"I thank God somebody hit me over the head and said you better do this..."

~Cindy Williams


Lenny and Squiggy ~originally Lenny and Anthony~ the two created the characters while in college together. Penny wanted them for the part.

Laverne and Shirley first appeared on Happy Days in November 1975. Two months later, they were starring in their own show ~watched by over 63 million Americans.

*Cindy pulled up to the Paramount gate one day, (with the wooden arm across the gate) and the guards didn't recognize her. She thought they should have recognized her by then. So she backed up her car, gunned it, and drove right through the wooden gate.

Penny and Cindy used to fight over who was Ethel. Nobody wanted to be Ethel. To them, they were Lucy. But behind the scenes, Penny was Lucy. Penny went to family reunions with everyone who was in power. Cindy went off my herself. Someone told Cindy that everyone was on Penny's side.

"...because everywhere she looked, everyone was related to Penny."

~ David L. Lander

*Tony Marshall (father) - Producer

*Garry Marshall (brother) - Executive Producer

*Ronny Marshall (sister) - Casting Director

Most of the writing staff was from the Bronx so they wrote more for Laverne because she was easier to write for.

"They really hadn't found my character." ~Cindy Williams

*Penny and Cindy had problems. Cindy felt like an outcast and Penny had personal problems ~her appearance. (Penny didn't think she was pretty)

"To me, she was my girlfriend. And when I have a girlfriend, they're always pretty, smart, kind, lovely, and that's all I saw. Penny will be the first one to admitt, she never saw that." ~Cindy Williams

"Well, it's just that Cindy's so cute. I wanna be cute. She's got dimples and a little tiny nose." ~Penny Marshall


Fueds On The Set

They counted their lines to decide who had more minutes. They were equal partners but they couldn't have something to do every week. Penny had something one week, Cindy the other.

Garry Marshall was quoted on saying one executive seeing Penny and Cindy leaving the stage, actually considered hitting them with his car.

The most fighting critisism came from the actor who played "Andrew Squiggman."

"A lot of these guys came from "The Odd Couple," which is another Garry show. Just so as you read the script, you say, I just saw this last week on reruns of the "Odd Couple." ~David Lander

"David had terret syndrome when it came to reading the script and analizing it. He'd just do it out loud insead of keeping it to himself. And it would be very funny, but very cutting." ~Cindy Williams

There was a lot of script throwing on the set.

"Yeah, I threw a script ever so often and that got sort of well known, I suppose as a real arrogant or interhostal thing. I was very young and I was very angry."

~David Lander

A writer said ~ David would be cruel. They went to the table reading and had a script that David and Michael had written. David and Michael loved the script and thought it was genius. But it didn't go well at the reading. The writers then stayed up all night till 5am writing a new script. Trying to be respectful of their stuff. The writer was proud of his script once finished. That morning around 10, Michael and David walked into the writer's office and on his desk landed a script in flames.

The cast constantly refused to rehearse, resulting in a typical pre-show ritual.

"We'd say, do you know your lines?" ~Cindy

"No, do you?" ~Penny

"No." ~Cindy

"Let's go." ~Penny

"We'll wing it." ~Cindy

They shot next door to "Happy Days." The cast on that show didn't have any problems. They were always happy. They never threw a script over there. They were a clean, by golly, by gosh group.

"We used to call them the Stepford actors." ~David Lander

"You could hear the screaming coming through the wall. They were in the next stage." ~Tom Bosley (Happy Days)

Garry Marshall was nearly in tears one day. He gathered them together and told them, "If you're not happy with the material, you can walk out the door and I'll pay you for every episode. You will not dinagrate the material and you will not dinagrate what the writers have done."

They were fine for 8 minutes and then they were back to fighting. The pressure began to draw the staff away.

"We went through 12 writing staffs at about 12 people a staff. That's about 144 people who went through our portals." ~David Lander

They couldn't get a real director to do more than one show. David remembers going into the writer's room and there was a big picture of Penny and Cindy and they were throwing darts at it.



They dated nearly everybody on the set except Phil Foster [Frank DeFazio]. The sets on Paramount were all lined up next to each other.

"It was like a college campus. You had "Laverne & Shirley," " Happy Days," "Taxi," "Bossom Buddies," "Mork and Mindy," then of course, you had, "Little House On The Prairie." Let's not forget that hethenistic cast." ~Cindy Williams

Some of the writers tried to pick up a Solid Gold dancer.

"We were all single and foot loose and fancy-free." ~Cindy Williams

Cindy Williams and David Lander dated a little while and broke up many times. They would get together every night, stay together, go to work the next day, and after breaking up the previous night, in about 12 hours they'd turn to each other and say, "There's always you." The both felt the same way, "I'll be in love with you till someone better comes along."

"...Or as one of my friends put it, you have a regular Peyton Place happening over there, don't ya?" ~Cindy Williams

Everybody was involved with everybody at one point or the other.



The show was a big success. Even though the girls bickered, there was a loyalty and bond between Penny and Cindy that was impossible to break.

"You can't do a show like this and not like the other person. There's no way. An audience would know that right away." ~Cindy Williams

"That's why the show worked. If they really hated each other, then it wouldn't have worked." ~David Lander

"We have a relationship that's almost like a marriage." ~Cindy Williams

An example of their relationship's strength, came during Penny's divorce from Rob Reiner. Penny took Cindy into her dressing room and told Cindy that she's getting a divorce. Cindy asked, "Are you okay?" Penny said, "No, I'm blind." Penny had a white out from the stress of it and from the agony of it. Cindy was very supportive to her friend and helped her through her hard time.



Laverne and Shirley didn't get one single Emmy award. The audiences loved Laverne and Shirley, but the industry didn't.

In 1980, they relocated from Milwaukee to Hollywood. They put them there so they could meet celebrities.


Cindy's Pregnancy

Cindy married Bill Hudson and was expecting their first child in 1982. Cindy said that they were working too hard and her demand was that they get a hospital bed on the set.

In the middle of the livingroom sitting in between rehearsals, Cindy would lay in her hospital bed.

"You're on your feet so much, it's a grouling schedule, and I'm with a baby. It was very, very, difficult." ~Cindy Williams

Cindy had a pregnancy where she needed certain things. She couldn't be on her feet X - amount of time. It wasn't all coming together for her and she was more focused on starting her family. So it was time for her to leave. When Cindy decided to leave the show, it brought upon legal action between him (Garry) and Cindy.

Cindy said that she didn't want more money, she wanted her hours ajusted. They made her work 14 hour days. She was scheduled to work the week she was supposed to deliver Emily.

"When I left, everybody and their mother had a baby and they set up a nursery." ~Cindy Williams

The minute Cindy left, Penny got her salary. Penny and Cindy had a *Favored Nations Clause*, meaning whatever Cindy got, Penny got too. (Vise Versa) And Penny had a clause in her contract that said, "If Cindy left the left, she got her salary."


Last Thoughts

The key to the show was the remarkable talent of Penny and Cindy. Laverne and Shirley debuted as a number 1 hit. Everyone looked back and said it was the most creative and exciting times of their lives.

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