6. PHIL FOSTER WASN’T EVERYONE’S CHOICE TO PLAY LAVERNE’S DAD
Back in the 1950s, when Phil Foster was working as a stand-up comedian, he gave Garry Marshall his first job as a comedy writer. Marshall repaid the favor when casting Laverne & Shirley by hiring Foster to play Frank DeFazio. Writer/producer Mark Rothman told mental_floss that he was on board with the choice, but some of the higher-ups at ABC were not. Foster mumbled and had a thick Brooklyn accent, so they feared viewers would not be able to understand him. (Rothman’s second choice for the role was singer Frankie Laine, who’d caught his eye recently on a rerun of Make Room for Daddy.) In the end, Foster was signed and it was decided to make a running joke of his almost unintelligible thick “Italian” accent.
7. LAVERNE’S “L” MONOGRAM WAS PENNY MARSHALL’S IDEA
When any new show is just getting started, certain facts (like character names, their professions, where they live, etc.) have to be repeated a bit until the audience gets familiar with them. Rather than having to be constantly addressed as “Laverne” (which Marshall thought would get boring and distracting), she came up with the idea of sewing an “L” monogram onto her clothing to subtly remind the audience which character she played.
8. LENNY AND SQUIGGY’S ORIGINAL ACT WAS NOT FAMILY-FRIENDLY
Michael McKean and David Lander met while working together (along with Harry Shearer) in a comedy troupe called The Credibility Gap. One of their “bits” was about two characters named Lenny Kosnowski and Anthony (pronounced “Ant’ny”) Squiggliano. The voices and posturing were much the same as Lenny and Squiggy’s, except that the jokes were extremely blue, full of profanity and sexual references.
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