Milwaukee remembers Cindy Williams, impact of 'Laverne & Shirley'

NOW: Milwaukee remembers Cindy Williams, impact of ’Laverne & Shirley’

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The city that was the setting for the sitcom "Laverne & Shirley" is remembering the impact of the show.

This week actress Cindy Williams, best known for playing "Shirley Feeney," died at age 75. Her family said she passed after a short illness.

In her honor, the Milwaukee County Historical Society has spelled out "Cindy" in their windows using the very letters that once adorned Milwaukee City Hall, shown during the show's theme song.

"What [Cindy] did, what Penny did, what Henry Winkler did for the city, and for its visibility, was huge on television in the late 20th century," Milwaukee County Historical Society Assistant Archivist Michael Barera said. "This is just a little tribute to give back, and this feels especially appropriate because the letters were so famous themselves from 'Laverne and Shirley.'"

The show, about two roommates working at a local brewery, was a spinoff of another Brew City-based sitcom.

"'Laverne and Shirley' is just like 'Happy Days,' people know of those things when they [think of] Milwaukee," Kris Hoff said.

Hoff, the president and CEO of Happy Times Tours & Experiences, is not a Laverne DeFazio impersonator, but she will dress up as her for their "Schlemiel, Schlimazel MKE" tour.

"Laverne and Shirley are iconic to the city and I think people really embrace it. They have fun with it," Hoff said. "Two working women at a brewery, just like anybody else. We're all just working and making our day-to-day, and that's what it was."

Stops on the tour include Lakefront Brewery, Koz's Mini Bowl and Milwaukee City Hall, embracing the city the duo called home during the first five seasons of the show.

"Their legends will live on. I mean, we'll make sure that they live on in Milwaukee for a long, long time to come," Hoff said.

If you have ever wondered what "schlemiel" and "schlimazel" mean, Hoff can explain.

"It's about an inept, clumsy person or a klutz, that kind of thing. When you get to the 'Hasenpfeffer Incorporated,' that's well-blended like rabbit stew, so it's the two of them being inept, and clumsy and klutzy, all that good stuff, but when they come together, they're perfection," she said.

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