Thursday, October 17, 2013

October 17: Michael McKean from "This Is Spinal Tap" is 66-years-old today.

Michael John McKean, born in New York City is an actor, comedian, writer, composer and musician, best known as Squiggy's friend, "Lenny' Kosnowski," on Laverne and Shirley; as David St. Hubbins of Spinal Tap; and for his work in the Christopher Guest ensemble films.

McKean began his career (as well as the characters of Lenny and Squiggy) in Pittsburgh while a student at Carnegie Mellon University; Squiggy, AKA David Lander, was a fellow student at CMU.) Their partnership grew after graduation as part of the comedy group The Credibility Gap with Harry Shearer in Los Angeles, but McKean's breakthrough came in 1976 when he joined the cast of Laverne and Shirley.

The characters became something of a phenomenon, even releasing an album as Lenny and the Squigtones in 1979, which featured a young Christopher Guest on guitar (credited as Nigel Tufnel; the name Guest would use a few years later as part of the spoof rock band, Spinal Tap). "Foreign Legion of Love" was a big hit for the Squigtones, with frequent play on the Dr Demento Show.

After leaving Laverne and Shirley in 1982, McKean played David St. Hubbins in the cult spoof documentary movie This Is Spinal Tap with both Guest and Shearer, and appeared in the soap opera spoof Young Doctors in Love.

McKean quickly became a recognizable name in film and television, with appearances in films such as Used Cars, Clue, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Earth Girls Are Easy, the film adaptation of Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Coneheads, and Radioland Murders. He also had guest roles on many TV shows.  

Having already appeared as a musical guest and then host of Saturday Night Live, McKean joined the cast in 1994 and remained a cast member until 1995.

His more recent films have included Teaching Mrs. Tingle; Mystery, Alaska;  Best in Show; Little Nicky; The Guru and A Mighty Wind, in which The Folksmen are played by the actors who play Spinal Tap.

In the Christopher Guest comedy A Mighty Wind, McKean co-wrote several songs for the film, including "A Mighty Wind" (with Guest and Eugene Levy), which won the Grammy for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media and "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" (with wife Annette O'Toole), which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song.

He was on Broadway in a production of Hairspray in 2004, and in 2006  appeared in a revival of The Pajama Game with Harry Connick, Jr.

HIGHLY Recommended (Links to Amazon):

This is Spinal Tap (Special Edition)Christopher Guest Collection (A Mighty Wind / Best in Show / Waiting for Guffman)Unwigged and Unplugged Live Concert DVDThe Pajama Game: The New Broadway Cast Recording


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