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Michael McKean Biography

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Birth Name: Michael McKean
Born: 10/17/1947
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA

The second child of record executive Gilbert McKean and his librarian wife, Ruth, Michael McKean was born on Oct. 17, 1947 in New York City, NY. Artistic as a youth, McKean began playing the guitar at 14 and knew he wanted to be an entertainer from early on. In college, McKean met David L. Lander and Christopher Guest - two young men who would later become hugely important in his professional life. The threesome, along with Harry Shearer and Richard Beebe, formed The Credibility Gap, an influential comedy group that performed on the radio and toured in the early 1970s.

McKean's big break, though, would be on television. In 1975, McKean, Lander and Shearer were signed to write for the then-upcoming ABC sitcom, "Laverne and Shirley." At the suggestion of series star Penny Marshall, McKean and Lander also joined the cast as recurring characters Lenny Kosnowski and Andrew "Squiggy" Squigman, an eccentric duo who provided the show's most reliable comic relief. Based on a pair of characters they had originally created with The Credibility Gap, McKean and Lander's Lenny and Squiggy became so hugely popular, they were eventually added to the regular cast. McKean's character, Lenny, was a loveable goofball who worked as a truck driver at the Shotz Brewery where Laverne and Shirley were also employed. In addition, he was also their neighbor. Together, with his more nimble-minded roommate, Squiggy, Lenny could be relied on each week to barge into the titular heroines' apartment at the worst possible moment.

After the series' demise, McKean attempted to parlay his fame into such feature comedies as director Garry Marshall's "Young Doctors in Love" (1982), but failed to hit the mark. McKean did, however, have great and lasting success with his next movie, "This is Spinal Tap" (1984) - an uproariously inventive and on-target "rockumentary" satire of heavy metal music. In it, McKean played David St. Hubbins, the band's blond hen-pecked lead singer. Helmed by neophyte director Rob Reiner, "Spinal Tap" would mark the first of McKean's many well-received feature comedy collaborations with Guest and Shearer. He also had prominent roles in several other features, including the family oriented sci-fi movie, "D.A.R.Y.L." (1985) and "Clue" (1985), an adaptation of the classic Parker Brothers board game. Unfortunately, both films fared poorly, both critically and with the public. As a result, McKean subsequently found himself consigned back to supporting roles in such features as "Earth Girls Are Easy" (1989), "Book of Love" (1990), "Coneheads" (1993) and "Airheads" (1994).

On television, McKean had marginally better luck in such offbeat shows as "Grand" (CBS, 1990-91) and the original cable comedy, "Dream On" (HBO, 1990-96), in which he played Brian Benben's abusive editor. After the close of the 1993-94 season, McKean left the show to join the cast of "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ), where he assumed the role of elder statesman following the recently departing Phil Hartman. Sadly, McKean's efforts were largely wasted in this floundering era of the venerable series.

Nevertheless, McKean continued to rack up an impressive and typically effective series of big-screen appearances. Demonstrating a wry verve, McKean appeared in such diverse projects as "The Brady Bunch Movie" (1995), "Small Soldiers" (1998), "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" (1999), "Mystery, Alaska" (1999) and "Little Nicky" (2000). But McKean continued to shine most brightly in his collaborations with Shearer and Guest. In 2000, McKean appeared as one-half of a dog-obsessed gay couple in Guest's hysterical kennel club comedy, "Best in Show" (2000). He later essayed an uptight corporate exec for the Shearer-helmed satire, "Teddy Bears' Picnic" (2002). Finally, the trio re-teamed for the "Spinal Tap"-ian folk music mockumentary, "A Mighty Wind" in 2003.

McKean was also able to display a more serious side of his acting, appearing in fare with a slightly more mature edge. These included actress Christine Lahti's directorial debut, "My First Mister" (2001), the fiftysomething romantic comedy "Never Again" (2002), and "Auto Focus" (2002), Paul Schrader's dark biopic of "Hogan's Heroes" star Bob Crane. In between his more serious efforts, McKean maintained close ties to television; he kept his comedic chops sharp as the host of Comedy Central's "Uncomfortably Close with Michael McKean" (1999-2001) - a series of specials in which he interviewed some of the premiere comedic talents of the day. He also played insipid talk show sidekick Adrien Van Voorhees on Martin Short's short-lived, but amusing media satire, "Primetime Glick" (Comedy Central, 2000-02) and guested as the oily Morris Fletcher on two episodes of "The X-Files" (Fox, 1993-2002). In 2002, McKean guest-starred in his first appearance as intrepid journalist Perry White on "Smallville" (WB, 2001-06; CW, 2006- ), the Superman-based prequel series starring his offscreen wife, Annette O'Toole.

In 2003, McKean was back in wacky form on the big-screen, appearing in the Bollywood-to-Hollywood satire "The Guru." After a successful run on stage in the Broadway adaptation of "Hairspray," McKean reunited with most of the cast of "A Mighty Wind" to star in director Christopher Guest's "For Your Consideration" (2006), a film-within-a-film mockumentary set in Tinseltown. The following year, McKean joined actors Shia LaBeouf, Jane Krakowski and Jeff Bridges in lending his voice to the daring CGI animated family comedy, "Surf's Up" (2007) about surfing penguins.