Then/Now: The Cast of 'Laverne & Shirley'

"Nothing's gonna turn us back now, straight ahead and on the track now, we're gonna make our dreams come true. Doing it our way." So went the classic "Laverne & Shirley" theme song. But did the cast members all stay on the track? Let's find out...

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    'Laverne & Shirley'  Schlemiel, Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated! "Laverne & Shirley" was a comedy about two mismatched roommates (a female "Odd Couple" basically) that ran on ABC from 1976-1983. (AP)  
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    Spin off gals The series was one of many "Happy Days" spin offs, with the lead characters Laverne and Shirley having been introduced on that show as "friends" (wink wink) of Fonzie. The show followed tomboy Laverne de Fazio (Penny Marshall) and her best friend, the persnickety Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams). The girls were best friends and roommates who worked on the bottling line of a Milwaukee brewery in the 1950s and 60s. (AP)
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    Cindy Williams: Then Cindy Williams starred in several films, including "American Graffiti" where she played Ron Howard’s high-school sweetheart, before being cast as the fun-loving Shirley Feeney. She left the show in 1982 after becoming pregnant with husband Bill Hudson's child.  Fun fact: Bill had previously been married to Goldie Hawn and is Kate Hudson's father. (AP)
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    Cindy Williams: Now After leaving the show, Cindy guest starred on several TV shows and made a few movies. She also helped produce the "Father of the Bride" films with husband Bill (the two divorced in 2000).  (AP)
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    Penny Marshall: Then Penny Marshall got her big break in 1970, landing the role of Secretary Myrna Turner on "The Odd Couple." She also had a recurring role on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"  around the same time. Penny had been working on several miscellaneous writing projects with Cindy Williams when the two were cast as guest stars on "Happy Days" (Penny's brother Garry Marshall created the hit series). The audience fell in love with the duo, and from there a spin-off was born. (AP)
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    Penny Marshall: Now Penny became interested in directing while still on the show and directed two episodes. After the series, she became one of the biggest directors in Hollywood, helming several blockbusters, including "Big," "Awakenings" and "A League of Their Own."  (AP)
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    Eddie Mekka: Then Eddie Mekka  headed Worcester County Light Opera in Massachusetts, where he taught kids how to sing, before getting his big break playing Shirley's high school sweetheart Carmine "The Big Ragu" Ragusa. His character was also originally introduced on “Happy Days” as one of Fonzie’s friends. Geez, how many sitcom stars owe The Fonz their careers? (AP)
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    Eddie Mekka: Now Eddie worked steadily on TV after the series was canceled and has appeared on "24," "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,"" ER," and the soap "The Bold and the Beautiful." On July 2, 2009, he was arrested in Las Vegas for suspicion of driving under the influence after getting into a car accident.
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    David Lander: Then David got his big break playing the obnoxious, girl-obsessed, but ultimately lovable and loyal Andrew "Squiggy" Squigman. He and his friend Michael McKean, who played Lenny on the show, released an album as Lenny and Squiggy and the two appeared together in the 1980 film "Used Cars." (AP)
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    Now: David Lander

    David Lander: Now Lander has appeared in number TV shows and movies including "Married…With Children,"" Mad About You," and "A League of Their Own." He is also a skilled voice actor and reprised his role as Squiggy on "The Simpsons." David was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1984, but kept his illness a secret for 15 years. He released an autobiography about his struggle in 2002, titled "Falling Down, Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn't Tell Nobody."  (Reuters)
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    Michael McKean: Then McKean played dimwitted Lenny Kosnowski, who lived in the apartment above Laverne and Shirley with his best friend Squiggy, played by David Lander. The two were close friends in real life and met while attending Carnegie Mellon University where they created the two characters. Can you imagine coming up with a comedy duo idea in college, and then becoming two of the biggest TV stars of your time with said ? Too cool. (AP)
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    Michael McKean: Now After leaving the show in 1982, Michael played David St. Hubbins in the cult spoof documentary movie “This is Spinal Tap” and became a favorite of director Christopher Guest, appearing in classics such as "Best in Show" and "A Mighty Wind." McKean also joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1994, but lasted only a year. (Reuters)
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    Reunited In 1995, the cast came together for a reunion, along with creator Gary Marshall.  (AP)
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    Still pals In April 2012, David Lander, Michael McKean, Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall gathered together on stage at the TV Land Awards.  (Reuters)
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