9. THE GIRLS WEREN’T SO SWEET AND INNOCENT OFF-CAMERA, THOUGH
Garry Marshall frequently brought his young children to visit Stage 19 at Paramount Studios to watch Happy Days being filmed, but he forbade them from venturing over to Stage 20, which was Laverne & Shirley territory. The Happy Days cast and staff were almost as wholesome in real life as they appeared onscreen, but the Laverne & Shirley actors’ off-camera dialogue was peppered with foul language unsuitable for tender young ears.
There was also some bad behavior at times, particularly between the cast and the writers. Scripts and temper tantrums were thrown, production was delayed. Cindy Williams’s manager stood offstage timing the laughs and protested whenever Penny Marshall’s lines got bigger yuks from the audience. The series had debuted at number one and stayed near the top of the Nielsen ratings for the first four seasons. Years later, cast members admitted that such sudden success went to a lot of heads and that a lot of the dissension behind the scenes was ego-related.
10. LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY WERE “RE-VIRGINIZED” FOR THE SERIES
Viewers might remember that when Laverne and Shirley appeared on that Happy Days episode, their characters were “from the wrong side of the tracks”—loose, experienced, perhaps even a bit sleazy. That worked for that particular episode (there was lots of comedy to be mined from naive Richie’s reaction to being paired up with such a brassy broad), but those characters weren’t appropriate for a weekly series airing during the Family Hour in the 1970s. So, in Penny Marshall’s words, the characters were “revirginized” and portrayed as blue-collar and unpolished, but still somewhat innocent. They played the field, dating-wise, but never “voh-dee-oh-doh-dohed.”
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