Michael McKean: American actor (1947-) | Biography
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Michael McKean
American actor

Michael McKean

Michael McKean
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American actor
Is Actor Musician Composer Screenwriter Writer Television actor Songwriter
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio Literature Music
Gender male
Birth 17 October 1947, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Age 76 years
Spouse: Annette O'Toole
Height: 1.8034 m
Michael McKean
The details (from wikipedia)


Michael John McKean (born October 17, 1947) is an American actor, comedian, writer, composer and musician well known for his portrayal of Leonard "Lenny" Kosnowski on the sitcom Laverne & Shirley; Charles "Chuck" McGill in the AMC drama Better Call Saul, Mr. Green in the comedy/mystery film Clue; and for his work in the Christopher Guest ensemble films, particularly as David St. Hubbins, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the fictional rock band Spinal Tap from the film This Is Spinal Tap. He co-wrote "A Mighty Wind" (from the film of the same name), which won the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media, as well as "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" from the same film, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song.

Early life

McKean was born October 17, 1947, in New York City, the son of Ruth, a librarian, and Gilbert McKean, one of the founders of Decca Records, and was raised in Sea Cliff, New York, on Long Island. McKean is of Irish, English, Scottish, and some German and Dutch, descent. He graduated from High School in 1965.


McKean began his career (as well as the characters of Lenny and Squiggy) in Pittsburgh while a student at Carnegie Mellon; David Lander was a fellow student at CMU. Their partnership grew after graduation as part of the comedy group The Credibility Gap with Harry Shearer in Los Angeles, but McKean's breakthrough came in 1976 when he and Lander joined the cast of Laverne & Shirley portraying Lenny and Squiggy. McKean directed one episode, and the characters became something of a phenomenon, even releasing an album as Lenny and the Squigtones in 1979, which featured a young Christopher Guest on guitar (credited as Nigel Tufnel; the name Guest would use a few years later as part of the spoof rock band, Spinal Tap). "Foreign Legion of Love" was a big hit for the Squigtones, with frequent play on the Dr. Demento Show. McKean also played his character in an episode of Happy Days. After leaving Laverne & Shirley in 1982, McKean played David St. Hubbins in the comedy This is Spinal Tap with both Guest and Shearer, and appeared in the soap opera spoof Young Doctors in Love.

McKean quickly became a recognizable name in film and television, with appearances in films such as Used Cars (1980), Clue (1985), Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), Earth Girls Are Easy (1988), and taking a lead role in Short Circuit 2 (1988).


McKean was part of an ensemble cast in the short-lived television series Grand on NBC which aired in 1990. In 1991 McKean co-wrote (with Christopher Guest) the second episode and later directed the final episode of the mock documentary series Morton & Hayes, created by Phil Mishkin and Rob Reiner.

Having already appeared as a musical guest and then host of Saturday Night Live, McKean joined the cast in 1994 and remained a cast member until 1995. At the age of 46, he was the oldest person ever to join the SNL cast at the time (later surpassed by Leslie Jones, who joined in 2014 at age 47, though he is still the oldest white male cast member to join the show), one of a handful of SNL cast members to appear on the show before becoming a cast member (joining the likes of Billy Crystal, Denny Dillon, Ann Risley, and Rob Riggle), and the only one to be a musical guest and a host before becoming a cast member. During this time, he also released a video follow up to Spinal Tap, played the villainous Mr. Dittmeyer in The Brady Bunch Movie, and played the boss Gibby in the HBO series Dream On. After leaving Saturday Night Live, McKean spent a lot of time doing children's fare, voicing various TV shows and movies.

McKean gained further notoriety acting in the film adaptation of Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), Coneheads (1993), Airheads (1994), Radioland Murders (1994). In 1997, he played the lead voice role in the video game Zork Grand Inquisitor, as Dalboz of Gurth and appeared in the 1999 films Teaching Mrs. Tingle and Mystery, Alaska.

McKean's TV guest appearances include; The Simpsons; Star Trek: Voyager; Boy Meets World; Murder, She Wrote, Murphy Brown, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and Caroline in the City. In 1998, he guest starred in a two-part episode of The X-Files called "Dreamland" in which his character, Morris Fletcher, switched bodies with Fox Mulder. The character was a success, and reappeared in 1999's "Three of a Kind", an episode which focused on the recurring characters of The Lone Gunmen. The character appeared on their short-lived spin-off series in 2001, and then returned to The X-Files in its final season for an episode called "Jump the Shark".


McKean and Jane Lynch at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival.

His recent films of the time included Best in Show (2000) (in which he reunited with Christopher Guest); Little Nicky (2000); The Guru (2002); And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself (2003); and A Mighty Wind (2003) (in which The Folksmen are played by the actors who play Spinal Tap). McKean had a regular role as the brassy, heavily made-up bandleader Adrian Van Horhees in Martin Short's Comedy Central series, Primetime Glick. He also had guest roles on such shows as Law & Order; Family Guy; SpongeBob SquarePants and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. He also did voiceover work on Oswald as Henry's cousin, Louie. Coincidentally, Henry was voiced by David Lander. He also lent his voice to an episode of Kevin Smith's Clerks: The Animated Series that was never aired on ABC but was included on the VHS and DVD versions of the series.

In 2003, he guest starred on Smallville, the Superman prequel in which his wife stars as Martha Kent. McKean played Perry White, who – in the Superman universe – ultimately becomes Clark Kent's boss. He previously has been related to the Superman myth. In 1994, on the Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman first-season episode "Vatman", he played Dr. Fabian Leek, a cloning expert who creates a Superman clone that belonged to corporate mogul Lex Luthor (John Shea). Also, during his short stint on Saturday Night Live, McKean played Perry White in a Superman spoof.

In 2003, he appeared in the Christopher Guest comedy A Mighty Wind. He co-wrote several songs for the film, including A Mighty Wind (with Guest and Eugene Levy), which won the Grammy for "Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media" and A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song.

He was on Broadway in a production of Hairspray in 2004, and is apparently writing his own musical with O'Toole. He was co-starring as Hines in a revival of The Pajama Game with Harry Connick, Jr. at the American Airlines Theatre in the first half of 2006. Also in 2006, McKean reunited with most of the cast of A Mighty Wind to film the comedy For Your Consideration and appeared in the play Love Song on the stage in London. His musical interests led him to a starring role in the critically acclaimed 2008 comedy air-drumming film Adventures of Power, in which he was re-united on-screen with his co-star Jane Lynch (from "For Your Consideration") and starred alongside Adrian Grenier, Chiu Chi Ling, and Shoshannah Stern. In it, McKean plays a copper-miner who organizes a community strike against the corrupt owners of the town plant and is the father of Power (Ari Gold), a devoted young musician whose goal it is to win the national air-drumming competition. His role honors the leaders and fighters of the 99% movement.

McKean was cast in the pilot episode of a remake of the British series The Thick of It as the chief of staff. The pilot was directed by Guest. McKean starred in the 40th Anniversary Broadway revival of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming, co-starring Ian McShane, Raul Esparza, Eve Best, and James Frain. The show opened on December 9, 2007. In 2009, he starred in the Chicago-based Steppenwolf Theatre Company's production of Superior Donuts, by playwright Tracy Letts.


On January 20, 2010, it was announced that Michael McKean would return to an episode of Smallville alongside his spouse, Annette O'Toole.

In May 2010, McKean won the Celebrity Jeopardy! tournament by defeating Jane Curtin and Cheech Marin. The earnings were donated to the International Myeloma Foundation in honor of McKean's friend Lee Grayson, who died of myeloma in 2004. In the summer of 2010, McKean took over the role of the Stage Manager in Thornton Wilder's Our Town at the Barrow Street Playhouse in New York's Greenwich Village. His run ended on August 24, 2010. In 2011, McKean appeared on an episode of Sesame Street as Virgil, the rock star, looking for "rocks" to be in an all ROCK-band. He searches for many different rocks and gems but is unable to find his lead singer until Abby turns him into an emerald.

In April 2012, McKean began performing on Broadway in Gore Vidal's The Best Man. On May 22, 2012, McKean was hit by a car in New York City, suffering a broken leg. His part was filled by James Lecesne. On June 1, 2012, McKean was released from the hospital to begin physical rehabilitation. He also appeared in the HBO comedy series Family Tree in early 2013.

In late February 2014, McKean played J. Edgar Hoover in Broadway previews of Robert Schenkkan's Lyndon B. Johnson bio-play, All the Way, starring Emmy winner Bryan Cranston as Lyndon B. Johnson. The play opened on March 6, 2014. In May 2014, McKean was announced to have joined the cast of the Breaking Bad spin-off, Better Call Saul. He was the first actor to join the series that was not featured in the original series, although he had worked with series creator Vince Gilligan previously on The X-Files. The series premiered in February 2015. McKean plays the role of Chuck McGill.

Michael is a lifelong fan of Laurel and Hardy, and in June 2016 he called in to The Ross Owen Show on Black Sky Radio to talk about his passion for Stan and Ollie.

Recurring characters on SNL

  • Anthony, the weatherman from "Good Morning, Brooklyn"

Celebrity impersonations on SNL

  • Bill Clinton (after Phil Hartman left at the end of season 19)
  • Jimmy Carter
  • Robert Evans
  • John Tesh
  • Robert Shapiro
  • Spalding Gray
  • Tom Skerritt
  • Vincent Price
  • Richard Gephardt
  • Jeffrey Dahmer
  • Howard Stern
  • Donald E. Belfi
  • Adam West
  • Elvis Costello—whom he portrayed in Season 19, 1994, in a sketch called "Rockers Help Explain Whitewater"
  • George F. Will
  • Gary Busey
  • Patrick Stewart



Year Title Role Notes
1977 Cracking Up Various characters
1979 1941 Willy
1980 Used Cars Eddie Winslow
1982 Young Doctors in Love Dr. Simon August
1984 This Is Spinal Tap David St. Hubbins Also writer
1985 D.A.R.Y.L. Andy Richardson
1985 Clue Mr. Green
1986 Jumpin' Jack Flash Leslie Uncredited
1987 Light of Day Bu Montgomery
1987 Planes, Trains and Automobiles State Trooper
1988 Portrait of a White Marriage Rev. Prufrock
1988 Short Circuit 2 Fred Ritter
1988 Earth Girls Are Easy Woody
1989 Hider in the House Phil Dreyer
1989 The Big Picture Emmett Summer Also writer
1990 Flashback Hal
1990 Book of Love Adult Jack Twiller
1991 True Identity Harvey Cooper
1992 Memoirs of an Invisible Man George Talbot
1992 Man Trouble Eddy Revere
1993 Coneheads Gorman Seedling
1994 Airheads Milo Jackson
1994 Radioland Murders Rick Rochester
1995 The Brady Bunch Movie Mr. Larry Dittmeyer
1995 Across the Moon Frank
1996 Edie & Pen Rick
1996 The Pompatus of Love Sitcom Star
1996 Jack Paulie
1997 No Strings Attached Elliot Lewis
1997 Casper: A Spirited Beginning Bill Case Direct-to-video
1997 That Darn Cat Peter Randall
1997 Nothing to Lose Phillip "P.B" Barrow
1997 Still Breathing New Mark
1998 The Man Who Counted Reverend Hooper Short film
1998 Spinal Tap: The Final Tour David St. Hubbins Short film
1998 The Pass Willie L.
1998 Small Soldiers Insaniac/Troglokhan (voices)
1998 Archibald the Rainbow Painter J.P. Bigelow
1998 With Friends Like These... Dr. Maxwell Hersh
1998 Sugar: The Fall of the West Head of Sex Clinic
1999 Masters of Horror and Suspense Will Masters
1999 Kill the Man Mr. Livingston
1999 True Crime Reverend Shillerman
1999 Teaching Mrs. Tingle Principal Potter
1999 Mystery, Alaska Mr. Walsh
2000 Best in Show Stefan Vanderhoof
2000 Beautiful Lance DeSalvo
2000 Little Nicky Chief of Police
2001 My First Mister Bob Benson
2001 Never Again Alex The Transvestite
2001 Dr. Dolittle 2 Bird 1 (voice)
2002 Slap Her... She's French Monsieur Duke
2002 The Hunchback of Notre Dame II Sarousch (voice) Direct-to-video
2002 Teddy Bears' Picnic Porterfield 'Porty' Pendleton
2002 The Guru Dwain
2002 Auto Focus Video Executive
2002 100 Mile Rule Howard
2003 A Mighty Wind Jerry Palter
2005 The Producers Prison Trustee
2006 Relative Strangers Ken Hyman
2006 For Your Consideration Lane Iverson
2007 Joshua Chester Jenkins
2007 The Grand Steve Lavisch
2007 Surf's Up Rock (voice) Scenes deleted
2008 Adventures of Power Harlan
2009 Whatever Works Boris' Friend
2010 Pure Country 2: The Gift Peter
2012 The Words Nelson Wylie
2012 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Dr. Bartholomew Wolper (voice) Direct-to-video
2013 10 Rules for Sleeping Around Jeffrey Fields
2015 The Meddler Mark


Year Title Role Notes
1976–1983 Laverne & Shirley Leonard 'Lenny' Kosnowski 149 episodes
1979 Happy Days Leonard 'Lenny' Kosnowski Episode: "Fonzie's Funeral: Part 2"
1980 Goodtime Girls Joey Episode: "Internal Injury"
1984 Saturday Night Live Himself / David St. Hubbins 2 episodes
1985 George Burns Comedy Week Joey Episode: "The Borrowing"
1986 Tall Tales & Legends Mac Macintosh / Mr. Wallace 2 episodes
1987 Double Agent Jason Starr / Warren Starbinder Television film
1987 Daniel and the Towers Wexler Hatch Television film
1990 Grand Tom Smithson 13 episodes
1990 Empty Nest Dennis Episode: "Mad About the Boy"
1990 Murder, She Wrote Ross McKay Episode: "The Return of Preston Giles"
1991 Morton & Hayes Dr. Mummenschvantz Episode: "The Bride of Mummula"
1991–1996 Dream On Gibby Fiske 25 episodes
1992–1994 Dinosaurs Various voices 12 episodes
1992, 1999 The Simpsons David St. Hubbins / Arthur Fortune / Jerry Rude (voices) 2 episodes
1993–1994, 1998 Animaniacs Various voices 3 episodes
1993 Family Album Mr. Gordon Episode: "Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall All You Gotta Do Is Call..."
1994 Getting By Dirk Clearfield Episode: "Sell It Like It Is"
1994–1995 Saturday Night Live Various 25 episodes
1994 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Dr. Fabian Leek Episode: "Vatman"
1994 Duckman Bob Hiney (voice) Episode: "A Civil War"
1995 The Nanny Professor Noel Babcock PhD Episode: "Franny and the Professor"
1995 Friends Mr. Rastatter Episode: "The One with the List"
1996 Star Trek: Voyager The Clown Episode: "The Thaw"
1996 Secret Service Guy Frank McClellan 7 episodes
1996–1999 Tracey Takes On... Barrington 'Barry' LeTissier 6 episodes
1996–1998 Jungle Cubs Cecil (voice) 20 episodes
1996 Caroline in the City Father Damian Episode: "Caroline and the Wedding"
1996–1998 Pinky and the Brain Various voices 4 episodes
1997 Road Rovers Dr. Jeffrey Otitus (voice) Episode: " Reigning Cats and Dogs (a.k.a. Curiosity Killed the Cat)"
1997 Johnny Bravo King Raymond / Rupert / Rhino (voices) Episode: "Johnny Bravo/Jungle Boy in 'Mr. Monkeyman'/Johnny Bravo and the Amazon Women"
1997 The Weird Al Show Miner Episode: "Mining Accident"
1997 Space Ghost Coast to Coast Himself (voice) Episode: "BooBooKitty"
1997–1998 101 Dalmatians: The Series Jasper Badun (voice) 27 episodes
1998 The Closer Arthur Willhaven 2 episodes
1998 LateLine Dick Obermeyer Episode: "Pearce's New Buddy"
1998 Murphy Brown Dennis Page Episode: "Second Time Around"
1998 The Angry Beavers L.G. Algae / Raccoon (voices) Episode: "Pond Scum"
1998 The New Batman Adventures 50's Joker / Mutant Member (voices) Episode: "Legends of the Dark Knight "
1998 Mr. Show with Bob and David Professor Peens Episode: "Life Is Precious and God and the Bible"
1998–1999 Maggie Winters Lewis Stickley 2 episodes
1998–2002 The X-Files Morris Fletcher 4 episodes
1998 Recess Mr. Bream (voice) Episode: "Yes, Mikey, Santa Does Shave"
1999 Providence Sherman Smith Episode: "Blind Faith"
1999 Boy Meets World Jedediah Lawrence Episode: "State of the Unions"
2000 Batman Beyond Ian Peek (voice) Episode: "Sneak Peek"
2000–2001 The Huntress Lt. Praeger / Ralph Thorson (voice) 3 episodes
2000, 2002 Family Guy Various voices 2 episodes
2000–2001 Clerks: The Animated Series Various voices 2 episodes
2000, 2008 Law & Order Elias Grace / Bill Nolan 2 episodes
2001 Strip Mall Psycho-Vivor Host 2 episodes
2001–2002 Oswald Maestro Bingo / Louie (voices) 5 episodes
2001 The Lone Gunmen Morris Fletcher Episode: "All About Yves"
2001–2003 Primetime Glick Adrien Van Voorhees 30 episodes
2002 Teamo Supremo Mean Thumb / Lo-Fi (voices) 2 episodes
2002 As Told by Ginger Bobby Lightfoot (voice) Episode: "Family Therapy"
2002 Justice League Sgt. O'Shaughnessey/The Sportsman (voice) 2 episodes
2002 The Zeta Project Dr. Marcus Edmunds (voice) Episode: "The Hologram Man"
2002–2005 Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law Evelyn Spyro Throckmorton (voice) 4 episodes
2003 And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself William Christy Cabanne Television film
2003, 2010–2011 Smallville Perry White 3 episodes
2005 Alias Dr. Atticus Liddell 2 episodes
2005 Hopeless Pictures Mel Wax (voice) 9 episodes
2005 Boston Legal Dwight Biddle Episode: "Truly, Madly, Deeply"
2006 Catscratch Groink (voice) Episode: "Love Jackal"
2006 Help Me Help You Dr. Howard 'J.' Hubbins Episode: "Pink Feud"
2006 The Year Without a Santa Claus Snow Miser Television film
2007 The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy Kalgoron (voice) Episode: "Wrath of the Spider Queen"
2007, 2011 Curb Your Enthusiasm Matt Tessler 2 episodes
2008 The Unit Dr. Donald Metz 2 episodes
2010 Glory Daze Stu Episode: "Why Shant This Be Love?"
2010 Sesame Street Vergil Von Vivaldi Episode: "Rock, Rock Band"
2011 Off the Map Ed Greenman Episode: "Saved by the Great White Hope"
2011 Castle Victor Baron Episode: "Pretty Dead"
2011 Childrens Hospital Death Episode: "Munch by Proxy"
2011 Homeland Judge Jeffrey Turner Episode: "Grace"
2012–2013 Happy Endings Big Dave 2 episodes
2012 Thundercats Vultaire (voice) 2 episodes
2012, 2016 SpongeBob SquarePants Captain Frosty Mug / Lonnie the Shark (voices) 2 episodes
2012 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Fred Sandow Episode: "Father's Shadow"
2013 Family Tree Keith Chadwick 4 episodes
2013 American Dad! Emperor Zing (voice) Episode: "Lost in Space"
2014 The 7D Uncle Humidor (voice) 2 episodes
2015–present Better Call Saul Chuck McGill 16 episodes
2015–present Food: Fact or Fiction? Himself 19 episodes
2015 Comedy Bang! Bang! Zeus Episode: "Stephen Merchant Wears a Checkered Shirt and Rolled Up Jeans"
2015–2016 Drunk History Carl Laemmle / Arthur Jell 2 episodes


  • 2004 – Academy Award Nomination: Best Song – A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow – (shared with Annette O'Toole)
  • 2004 – Broadcast Film Critics Association Award Winner: Best Song – A Mighty Wind – (shared with Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy)
  • 2004 – Golden Satellite Award Nomination: Best Original Song – A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow – (shared with Annette O'Toole)
  • 2004 – Grammy Award Winner: Best Song Written for a Motion Picture – A Mighty Wind – (shared with Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy)
  • 2003 – Seattle Film Critics Award Winner: Best Music – A Mighty Wind – (shared with Christopher Guest, John Michael Higgins, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Annette O'Toole, Harry Shearer and Jeffrey C.J. Vanston)
  • 2003 – DVD Exclusive Award Nomination: Best Animated Character Performance – The Hunchback of Notre Dame II – (shared with Ritsuko Notani)
  • 2001 – DVD Exclusive Award Winner: Best DVD Audio Commentary – This Is Spinal Tap – (shared with Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer)
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