Michael McKean biography

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Michael McKean

Date of Birth: October 17, 1947

Born in New York, Michael McKean attended Carnegie-Mellon University, where he met David L. Lander, and while studying at NYU, he roomed with Christopher Guest. Along with Harry Shearer and Richard Beebe, Lander and McKean formed a comedy troupe called The Credibility Gap, performing satirical daily newscasts on Pasadena Rock station KRLA-AM. In 1975, McKean, Lander and Shearer landed jobs as writers for the ABC sitcom, Laverne & Shirley. Penny Marshall, who starred on the show as Laverne, suggested that McKean and Lander play recurring roles based on two characters they'd created with The Credibility Gap. The oddball characters, Lenny and Squiggy, became regulars on the hit sitcom.

While working on the sitcom, McKean, Shearer and Lander also joined the writing team and the cast of the feature film Cracking Up (1977). McKean landed a role in Penny Marshall's TV movie More Than Friends (1978), which co-starred her husband, Rob Reiner. Along with Reiner, Shearer, Guest and Billy Crystal, McKean wrote and performed on a new TV series called The T.V. Show in 1979. McKean next played a small role in Steven Spielberg's 1941 (1979), as did Lander.

Penny Marshall's brother, Garry Marshall, cast McKean in the soap opera spoof Young Doctors in Love (1982), but McKean achieved cult status when Guest, Shearer, Reiner and he got togetherto write the screenplay and music for This Is Spinal Tap (1984). Reiner also directed, while Guest, Shearer and McKean played members of a British hard rock group whose success was quickly spiralling downward. The hilarious mockumentary was a runaway hit, with Reiner playing a documentarian filming a behind-the-scenes look at the fictitious band, whose drummers kept meeting with tragedy.

McKean has worked steadily in feature films and on television since then, even becoming a regular cast member of the sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live from 1994 to 1995. He had previously appeared on the show as a musical guest, then as a guest host. McKean has two sons from his first marriage, and since 1999 has been happily married to actress Annette O'Toole.