Michael McKean

On this date in 1947, entertainer Michael John McKean was born in New York City to Ruth and Gilbert McKean. His mother worked in a school library and his father was a recording executive for RCA and Columbia before co-founding Decca Records.

McKean grew up in Sea Cliff on Long Island. After high school graduation he was briefly a member of The Left Banke, a band which earlier had hits with “Walk Away Renée” and “Pretty Ballerina.” McKean’s acting breakthrough came in 1976 when he and David Lander, who met as Carnegie Mellon University theater students, joined the cast of the ABC sitcom “Laverne & Shirley,” respectively playing Lenny and Squiggy.

After leaving the show in 1982, McKean played David St. Hubbins in the 1984 mockumentary film “This Is Spinal Tap” and appeared in the soap opera spoof “Young Doctors in Love.” He had more film roles, including in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), “Short Circuit 2” (1988) and with Kiefer Sutherland and Dennis Hopper in the adventure comedy “Flashback” in 1990.

McKean joined the “Saturday Night Live” cast from 1994-95 after guest hosting. At 46, he was the oldest person ever to join the cast at the time. McKean reunited in 2000 with Spinal Tap’s Christopher Guest in “Best in Show” and “A Mighty Wind” (2003), for which he co-wrote several songs, including “A Mighty Wind,” which won a Best Song Grammy, and the Oscar-nominated “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow.”

He continued to land numerous film and TV roles and performed on Broadway in 2012 in a new production of the 1960 play “The Best Man” by Gore Vidal. He was nominated for a 2019 Primetime Emmy for his portrayal of Chuck McGill, brother of Saul Goodman, on the AMC drama “Better Call Saul.” His most recent film role as of this writing was in “Pink Skies Ahead,” scheduled for a 2020 release.

McKean married Susan Russell in 1970. They had two sons, Fletcher and Colin, before divorcing in 1993. Colin, a movie production assistant, died at age 36 of a suspected heroin overdose in 2012. McKean married actress and singer-songwriter Annette O’Toole in 1999.

He criticized U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2020 after a 2015 video surfaced in which Pompeo expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage while addressing a church congregation. In the video, Pompeo says, “We will continue to fight these battles. It is a never-ending struggle, until the Rapture.” McKean tweeted, “You wouldn’t accept an air-traffic controller who was a flat-earther, so why accept a US Secretary of State who thinks the Rapture is imminent?” (Jan. 10, 2020) 

McKean singing “Kiss at the End of the Rainbow” with Annette O’Toole at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater in New York City in 2016; “Employee of the Month” photo under CC 3.0.

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