Michael McKean

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Michael McKean
MichaelMcKeanApr09.jpg
McKean performing in April 2009
Born Michael John McKean
(1947-10-17) October 17, 1947 (age 67)
New York City
Occupation Actor, comedian, writer, composer, musician
Years active 1973–present
Spouse(s) Susan Russell (1970-1993; divorced)
Annette O'Toole (1999–present)
Children 2 (1 deceased)

Michael John McKean (born October 17, 1947) is an American actor, comedian, writer, composer and musician well known for his portrayal of Squiggy's friend, Leonard "Lenny" Kosnowski, on the sitcom Laverne & Shirley; and for his work in the Christopher Guest ensemble films, particularly as David St. Hubbins, the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the fictional rock band Spinal Tap from the film This Is Spinal Tap.

Early life and career[edit]

McKean was born Oct. 17, 1947, in New York City, the son of Ruth, a librarian, and Gilbert McKean, one of the founders of Decca Records,[1][2] and was raised in Sea Cliff, New York, on Long Island.[3]

McKean began his career (as well as the characters of Lenny and Squiggy) in Pittsburgh while a student at Carnegie Tech; 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 and Lander joined the cast of Laverne & Shirley portraying Lenny and Squiggy. McKean directed one episode, and 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. McKean also played his character in an episode of Happy Days. After leaving Laverne & Shirley in 1982, McKean played David St. Hubbins in the comedy This is Spinal Tap with both Guest and Shearer, and appeared in the soap opera spoof Young Doctors in Love.

Film and television[edit]

McKean quickly became a recognizable name in film and television, with appearances in films such as Used Cars (1980), Clue (1985), Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), Earth Girls Are Easy (1988), the film adaptation of Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), Coneheads (1993), and "Airhead's"(1994)Radioland Murders (1994), and taking a lead role in Short Circuit 2 (1988). He also had guest roles on such shows as Murder, She Wrote, Murphy Brown, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and Caroline in the City. McKean was part of an ensemble cast in the short-lived television series Grand on NBC which aired in 1990. In 1991 McKean co-wrote (with Christopher Guest) the second episode and later directed the final episode of the mock documentary series Morton & Hayes, created by Phil Mishkin and Rob Reiner.

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. At the age of 46, he was the oldest person ever to join the SNL cast at the time (later surpassed by Leslie Jones, who joined in 2014 at age 47),[4] and the only person to be a musical guest, host, and cast member in that order.[5] During this time, he also released a video follow up to Spinal Tap, played the villainous Mr. Dittmeyer in The Brady Bunch Movie, and played the boss Gibby in the HBO series Dream On. After leaving Saturday Night Live, McKean spent a lot of time doing children's fare, voicing various TV shows and movies.

Later work[edit]

In 1997, he played the lead voice role in the video game Zork Grand Inquisitor, as Dalboz of Gurth. His more recent films have included Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999); Mystery, Alaska (1999); Best in Show (2000) (in which he reunited with Christopher Guest); Little Nicky (2000); The Guru (2002); And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself (2003); and A Mighty Wind (2003) (in which The Folksmen are played by the actors who play Spinal Tap).

McKean's TV guest appearances include; The Simpsons; Law & Order; Family Guy; Star Trek: Voyager; SpongeBob SquarePants; Boy Meets World and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. He also guest voiced on Oswald as Henry's cousin, Louie. Coincidentally, Henry was voiced by David Lander. He also lent his voice to an episode of Kevin Smith's Clerks: The Animated Series that was never aired on ABC but was included on the VHS and DVD versions of the series. In 1998, he guest starred in a two-part episode of The X-Files called "Dreamland" in which his character, Morris Fletcher, switched bodies with Fox Mulder. The character was a success, and reappeared in 1999's "Three of a Kind", an episode which focused on the recurring characters of The Lone Gunmen. The character appeared on their short-lived spin-off series in 2001, and then returned to The X-Files in its final season for an episode called "Jump the Shark". McKean had a regular role as the brassy, heavily made-up bandleader Adrian Van Horhees in Martin Short's Comedy Central series, Primetime Glick, and in 2003, he guest starred on Smallville, the Superman prequel in which his wife stars as Martha Kent. McKean played Perry White, who – in the Superman universe – ultimately becomes Clark Kent's boss. He previously has been related to the Superman myth. In 1994, on the Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman first season episode "Vatman", he played Dr. Fabian Leek, a cloning expert who creates a Superman clone that belonged to corporate mogul Lex Luthor (John Shea). Also, during his short stint on Saturday Night Live, McKean played Perry White in a Superman spoof.

In 2003, he appeared in the Christopher Guest comedy A Mighty Wind. He 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, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song.

He was on Broadway in a production of Hairspray in 2004, and is apparently writing his own musical with O'Toole. He was co-starring as Hines in a revival of The Pajama Game with Harry Connick, Jr. at the American Airlines Theatre in the first half of 2006. Also in 2006, McKean reunited with most of the cast of A Mighty Wind to film the comedy For Your Consideration and appeared in the play Love Song on the stage in London. His musical interests led him to a starring role in the critically acclaimed 2008 comedy air-drumming film Adventures of Power, in which he was re-united on-screen with his co-star Jane Lynch (from "For Your Consideration") and starred alongside Adrian Grenier, Chiu Chi Ling, and Shoshannah Stern. In it, McKean plays a copper-miner who organizes a community strike against the corrupt owners of the town plant and is the father of Power (Ari Gold, a devoted young musician whose goal it is to win the national air-drumming competition. His role honors the leaders and fighters of the 99% movement.[6]

McKean was cast in the pilot episode of a remake of the British series The Thick of It as the chief of staff. The pilot was directed by Guest. McKean starred in the 40th Anniversary Broadway revival of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, co-starring Ian McShane, Raul Esparza, Eve Best, and James Frain. The show opened on 9 December 2007. In 2009, he starred in the Chicago-based Steppenwolf Theatre Company's production of Superior Donuts, by playwright Tracy Letts.

On 20 January 2010, it was announced that Michael McKean would return to an episode of Smallville alongside his real life wife, Annette O'Toole.[7]

In May 2010, McKean won the Celebrity Jeopardy tournament by defeating Jane Curtin and Cheech Marin. The earnings were donated to the International Myeloma Foundation in honor of McKean's friend Lee Grayson, who died of myeloma in 2004. In the summer of 2010, McKean took over the role of the Stage Manager in Thornton Wilder's Our Town at the Barrow Street Playhouse in New York's Greenwich Village. His run ended on August 24, 2010. In 2011, McKean appeared on an episode of Sesame Street as Virgil, the rock star, looking for "rocks" to be in an all ROCK-band. He searches for many different rocks and gems but is unable to find his lead singer until Abby turns him into an emerald.

In April 2012, McKean began performing on Broadway in Gore Vidal's The Best Man. On May 22, 2012, McKean was hit by a car in New York City, suffering a broken leg. His part is to be filled by James Lecesne. On June 1, 2012, McKean was released from the hospital to begin physical rehabilitation.[8] He also appeared in the HBO comedy series Family Tree in early 2013.[9]

In late February 2014, McKean played J. Edgar Hoover in Broadway previews of Robert Schenkkan's Lyndon B. Johnson bio-play, All the Way, starring Emmy winner Bryan Cranston as the Lyndon B. Johnson. The play opened on March 6, 2014.[10] In May 2014, McKean was announced to have joined the cast of the Breaking Bad spin-off, Better Call Saul. He was the first actor to join the series that was not featured in the original series.[11] The series premiered in February 2015. McKean portrays role of Chuck McGill.

Recurring characters on SNL[edit]

  • Anthony, the weatherman from "Good Morning, Brooklyn"

Celebrity impersonations on SNL[edit]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1977 Cracking Up Various characters
1979 1941 Willy
1980 Used Cars Eddie Winslow
1982 Young Doctors in Love Dr. Simon August
1984 This Is Spinal Tap David St. Hubbins Also writer
1985 D.A.R.Y.L. Andy Richardson
1985 Clue Mr. Green
1986 Jumpin' Jack Flash Leslie Uncredited
1987 Double Agent Jason Starr / Warren Starbinder Television film
1987 Light of Day Bu Montgomery
1987 Planes, Trains and Automobiles State Trooper
1988 Portrait of a White Marriage Rev. Prufrock
1988 Short Circuit 2 Fred Ritter
1988 Earth Girls Are Easy Woody
1989 Hider in the House Phil Dreyer
1989 The Big Picture Emmett Summer Also writer
1990 Flashback Hal
1990 Book of Love Adult Jack Twiller
1991 True Identity Harvey Cooper
1992 Memoirs of an Invisible Man George Talbot
1992 Man Trouble Eddy Revere
1993 Coneheads Gorman Seedling
1994 Airheads Milo Jackson
1994 Radioland Murders Rick Rochester
1995 The Brady Bunch Movie Mr. Larry Dittmeyer
1995 Across the Moon Frank
1996 Edie & Pen Rick
1996 The Pompatus of Love Sitcom Star
1996 Jack Paulie
1997 No Strings Attached Elliot Lewis
1997 Casper: A Spirited Beginning Bill Case Direct-to-video
1997 That Darn Cat Peter Randall
1997 Nothing to Lose Phillip "P.B" Barrow
1997 Still Breathing New Mark
1998 The Man Who Counted Reverend Hooper Short film
1998 Spinal Tap: The Final Tour David St. Hubbins Short film
1998 The Pass Willie L.
1998 Small Soldiers Insaniac / Freakenstein (voices)
1998 Archibald the Rainbow Painter J.P. Bigelow
1998 With Friends Like These... Dr. Maxwell Hersh
1998 Sugar: The Fall of the West Head of Sex Clinic
1999 Masters of Horror and Suspense Will Masters
1999 Kill the Man Mr. Livingston
1999 True Crime (1999) Reverend Shillerman
1999 Teaching Mrs. Tingle Principal Potter
1999 Mystery, Alaska Mr. Walsh
2000 Best in Show Stefan Vanderhoof
2000 Beautiful Lance DeSalvo
2000 Little Nicky Chief of Police
2001 My First Mister Bob Benson
2001 Never Again Alex The Transvestite
2001 Dr. Dolittle 2 Bird 1 (voice)
2002 Slap Her... She's French Monsieur Duke
2002 The Hunchback of Notre Dame II Sarousch (voice) Direct-to-video
2002 Teddy Bears' Picnic Porterfield 'Porty' Pendleton
2002 The Guru Dwain
2002 Auto Focus Video Executive
2002 100 Mile Rule Howard
2003 A Mighty Wind Jerry Palter
2003 And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself William Christy Cabanne Television film
2005 The Producers Prison Trustee
2006 Relative Strangers Ken Hyman
2006 The Year Without a Santa Claus Snow Miser Television film
2006 For Your Consideration Lane Iverson
2007 Joshua
2007 The Grand Steve Lavisch
2007 Surf's Up Rock (voice) Scenes deleted
2008 Adventures of Power Harlan
2009 Whatever Works Boris' Friend
2012 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Dr. Bartholomew Wolper (voice) Direct-to-video
2013 10 Rules for Sleeping Around Jeffrey Fields
Television

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]