McKean in 1999
Michael John McKean
October 17, 1947
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Education||Carnegie Mellon University (BFA)|
New York University (MFA)
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, writer, director, composer, musician|
(m. 1970; div. 1993)
Michael John McKean (born October 17, 1947) is an American actor, comedian, screenwriter, and musician known for various roles in film and television such as Lenny Kosnowski in Laverne & Shirley, David St. Hubbins in This Is Spinal Tap, and Chuck McGill on Better Call Saul.
McKean's first breakout role was annoying neighbor Lenny Kosnowski on the sitcom Laverne & Shirley. He played David St. Hubbins, lead vocalist and co-lead guitarist of the fictional rock band Spinal Tap in This Is Spinal Tap and had roles in several Christopher Guest ensemble films. He co-wrote the song "A Mighty Wind" (for the Christopher Guest film A Mighty Wind), which won a him a Grammy Award, 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. McKean was a cast member on Saturday Night Live for its 19th and 20th seasons in the mid-1990s.
McKean portrayed Chuck McGill, brother of Saul Goodman, on the AMC drama series Better Call Saul, for which he has received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series in 2019. In 2020, he starred alongside Martin Freeman in the parental comedy series Breeders.
McKean was born October 17, 1947 in New York City at Manhattan Women’s Hospital, now part of the Mt. Sinai St. Luke’s complex on Amsterdam Avenue. He is the son of Ruth Stewart McKean, a librarian, and Gilbert S. 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. In early 1967, he was briefly a member of the New York City "baroque pop" band The Left Banke and played on the "Ivy, Ivy" single (B-side: "And Suddenly").
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 poof 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).
In 1990, McKean appeared opposite Kiefer Sutherland and Dennis Hopper in Flashback. The same year, McKean was part of an ensemble cast in the television series Grand, which aired for a short time. 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 from 1994 to 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), one of a handful of SNL cast members who weren't already hired to work behind the scenes (like SNL's numerous writers-turned-cast members) to appear on the show before becoming a cast member ,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 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's television guest appearances include The Simpsons; Star Trek: Voyager; Boy Meets World; Murder, She Wrote; Murphy Brown; Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman; Friends; and Caroline in the City. In 1998, he guest starred in a two-part episode of The X-Files titled "Dreamland," in which his character Morris Fletcher switched bodies with Fox Mulder. The character was a success, reappearing in 1999's "Three of a Kind," an episode which focused on the recurring characters of The Lone Gunmen. The character appeared on the 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 reunited with Christopher Guest in Best in Show (2000) and appeared in 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 played as Spinal Tap. McKean had a regular role as the brassy, heavily made-up bandleader Adrian Van Voorhees in Martin Short's 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 did voiceover work as Henry's cousin Louie on Oswald, which coincidentally featured the voice of David Lander as Henry. He lent his voice to an episode of Kevin Smith's Clerks: The Animated Series that never aired 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 Annette O'Toole, starred as Martha Kent. McKean played Perry White, who ultimately becomes Clark Kent's boss. He previously associated with the Superman universe in 1994 on the Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman first-season episode "Vatman," in which 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.
McKean performed in the Broadway production of Hairspray in 2004. He co-starred 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 2008 comedy air-drumming film Adventures of Power, in which he was reunited with Jane Lynch, his co-star from For Your Consideration, in a story intended to honor 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.
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 Summer 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 a rock star looking for "rocks" to be in an all ROCK-band.
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. On June 1, 2012, McKean was released from the hospital to begin physical rehabilitation. He appeared in the HBO comedy series Family Tree in early 2013.
In 2015, he began appearing as a regular cast member in the first three seasons of Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul in the role of the central character's older brother Chuck McGill – a new character created for the series – and occasionally in the fourth season. The same year, McKean began hosting the Cooking Channel television series Food: Fact or Fiction? This lighthearted show takes a look at food urban legends and features him both as host and narrator to some segments within each episode.
Characters on SNL
Recurring characters on SNL
- Anthony, the weatherman from "Good Morning, Brooklyn"
Celebrity impersonations on SNL
|1977||Cracking Up||Various characters|
|1980||Used Cars||Eddie Winslow|
|1982||Young Doctors in Love||Dr. Simon August|
|1984||This Is Spinal Tap||David St. Hubbins||Also writer|
|1986||Jumpin' Jack Flash||Leslie||Uncredited|
|1987||Light of Day||Bu Montgomery|
|Planes, Trains and Automobiles||State Trooper|
|1988||Portrait of a White Marriage||Rev. Prufrock|
|Short Circuit 2||Fred Ritter|
|Earth Girls Are Easy||Woody|
|1989||Hider in the House||Phil Dreyer|
|The Big Picture||Emmett Summer||Also writer|
|Book of Love||Adult Jack Twiller|
|1991||True Identity||Harvey Cooper|
|1992||Memoirs of an Invisible Man||George Talbot|
|Man Trouble||Eddy Revere|
|Radioland Murders||Rick Rochester|
|1995||The Brady Bunch Movie||Mr. Larry Dittmeyer|
|Across the Moon||Frank|
|1996||Edie & Pen||Rick|
|The Pompatus of Love||Sitcom Star|
|1997||No Strings Attached||Elliot Lewis|
|Casper: A Spirited Beginning||Bill Case||Direct-to-video|
|That Darn Cat||Peter Randall|
|Nothing to Lose||Phillip "P.B" Barrow|
|Still Breathing||New Mark|
|1998||The Man Who Counted||Reverend Hooper||Short film|
|Spinal Tap: The Final Tour||David St. Hubbins||Short film|
|The Pass||Willie L.|
|Archibald the Rainbow Painter||J.P. Bigelow|
|With Friends Like These...||Dr. Maxwell Hersh|
|Sugar: The Fall of the West||Head of Sex Clinic|
|1999||Masters of Horror and Suspense||Will Masters|
|Kill the Man||Mr. Livingston|
|True Crime||Reverend Shillerman|
|Teaching Mrs. Tingle||Principal Potter|
|Mystery, Alaska||Mr. Walsh|
|2000||Best in Show||Stefan Vanderhoof|
|Little Nicky||Chief of Police|
|2001||My First Mister||Bob Benson|
|Never Again||Alex The Transvestite|
|Dr. Dolittle 2||Bird 1 (voice)|
|2002||Slap Her... She's French||Monsieur Duke|
|The Hunchback of Notre Dame II||Sarousch||Voice; Direct-to-video|
|Teddy Bears' Picnic||Porterfield 'Porty' Pendleton|
|Auto Focus||Video Executive|
|100 Mile Rule||Howard|
|2003||A Mighty Wind||Jerry Palter|
|2005||The Producers||Prison Trustee|
|2006||Relative Strangers||Ken Hyman|
|For Your Consideration||Lane Iverson|
|The Grand||Steve Lavisch|
|2008||Adventures of Power||Harlan|
|2010||Pure Country 2: The Gift||Peter|
|2012||The Words||Nelson Wylie|
|Batman: The Dark Knight Returns||Dr. Bartholomew Wolper||Voice; Direct-to-video|
|2013||10 Rules for Sleeping Around||Jeffrey Fields|
|2014||Sesame Street: Learning Rocks||Virgil Von Vivaldi||Direct-to-video|
|2020||Pink Skies Ahead||Richard||Completed|
|1976–1983||Laverne & Shirley||Leonard 'Lenny' Kosnowski||149 episodes|
|1979||Happy Days||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||Classified Love||Pete Newly||Television film|
|Tall Tales & Legends||Mac Macintosh / Mr. Wallace||2 episodes|
|1987||Double Agent||Jason Starr
|Daniel and the Towers||Wexler Hatch||Television film|
|1990||Grand||Tom Smithson||13 episodes|
|Empty Nest||Dennis Adams||Episode: "Mad About the Boy"|
|Murder, She Wrote||Ross McKay||Episode: "The Return of Preston Giles"|
|The AFI Presents: TV or Not TV?||Principal Ford||Television special; segment: "Peak A Boo"|
|1991||Morton & Hayes||Dr. Mummenschvantz||Episode: "The Bride of Mummula"|
|Murder in High Places||Pettibone||Television film|
|1991–1996||Dream On||Gibby Fiske||25 episodes|
|1992–1994||Dinosaurs||Various voices||12 episodes|
|1992–1999||The Simpsons||David St. Hubbins
|Voices; 2 episodes|
|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 Roles||25 episodes|
|1994||Lois & Clark:
The New Adventures of Superman
|Dr. Fabian Leek||Episode: "Vatman"|
|Duckman||Bob Hiney (voice)||Episode: "A Civil War"|
|1995||The Nanny||Prof. Noel Babcock PhD||Episode: "Franny and the Professor"|
|Friends||Leon Rastatter||Episode: "The One with the List"|
|1996||The Sunshine Boys||Scott Grogan||Television film|
|Star Trek: Voyager||The Clown||Episode: "The Thaw"|
|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"|
|Johnny Bravo||Various roles||Voice; 3 episodes|
|The Weird Al Show||Miner||Episode: "Mining Accident"|
|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|
|LateLine||Dick Obermeyer||Episode: "Pearce's New Buddy"|
|Murphy Brown||Dennis Page||Episode: "Second Time Around"|
|The Angry Beavers||L.G. Algae/Raccoon||Voice; Episode: "Pond Scum"|
|Final Justice||Merle Hammond||Television Film|
|The New Batman Adventures||50s Joker/Mutant Member||Voice; Episode: "Legends of the Dark Knight "|
|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"|
|Boy Meets World||Jedediah Lawrence||Episode: "State of the Unions"|
|1999-2003||Hey Arnold!||Various roles||Voice; 2 episodes|
|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||Voice; 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||Voice; 2 episodes|
|As Told by Ginger||Bobby Lightfoot (voice)||Episode: "Family Therapy"|
|Justice League||Sgt. O'Shaughnessey
|Voice; 2 episodes|
|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|
|Smallville||Perry White||3 episodes|
|2005||Alias||Dr. Atticus Liddell||2 episodes|
|Hopeless Pictures||Mel Wax||Voice; 9 episodes|
|Boston Legal||Dwight Biddle||Episode: "Truly, Madly, Deeply"|
|2006||Catscratch||Groink||Voice; Episode: "Love Jackal"|
|Help Me Help You||Dr. Howard 'J.' Hubbins||Episode: "Pink Feud"|
|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?"|
|Sesame Street||Virgil Von Vivaldi||Episode: "Rock, Rock Band"|
|2011||Off the Map||Ed Greenman||Episode: "Saved by the Great White Hope"|
|Castle||Victor Baron||Episode: "Pretty Dead"|
|Childrens Hospital||Death||Episode: "Munch by Proxy"|
|Glenn Martin, DDS||Eye-Hawk/Sarge||Voice; Episode: "Heist"|
|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
|Voice; 2 episodes|
|2012||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Fred Sandow||Episode: "Father's Shadow"|
|2013||Family Tree||Keith Chadwick||4 episodes|
|American Dad!||Emperor Zing||Voice; Episode: "Lost in Space"|
|2014||The 7D||Uncle Humidor||Voice; 2 episodes|
|2015–2018||Better Call Saul||Chuck McGill||27 episodes|
|2015–present||Food: Fact or Fiction?||Himself (host)||39 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|
|2017||Last Week Tonight with John Oliver||Warren G. Harding counselor||Segment: "Harding"|
|2018||The Good Place||Doug Forcett||Episode: "Don't Let the Good Life Pass You By"|
|2019||Veep||Governor Ballentine||Episode: "Oslo"|
|Good Omens||Witchfinder Sgt. Shadwell||Miniseries|
|2020||Grace and Frankie||Jack||5 episodes|
|At Home with Amy Sedaris||Guy Lombardi||Episode: "New Year's"|
|2004||Hairspray||Edna Turnblad||Neil Simon Theatre|
|2004–2005||A Second Hand Memory||Phil Wellman||Linda Gross Theater|
|2006||The Pajama Game||Hines||American Airlines Theatre|
|2006||Love Song||Harry||Ambassadors Theatre|
|2007–2008||The Homecoming||Sam||Cort Theatre|
|2009||Our Town||Stage Manager||Barrow Street Theatre|
|2009–2010||Superior Donuts||Arthur Przybyszewski||Music Box Theatre|
|2011||King Lear||Earl of Gloucester||The Public Theatre|
|2012||The Best Man||Dick Jensen||Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre|
|2014||All the Way||J. Edgar Hoover||American Repertory Theatre|
|2017||The Little Foxes||Ben Hubbard||Samuel J. Friedman Theatre|
|2018||The True||Erastus Corning II||Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre|
Awards and nominations
|2004||Academy Award||Best Original Song||"A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow",
from A Mighty Wind
|2004||Grammy Award||Best Song Written for Visual Media||Won|
|2004||Broadcast Film Critics Association||Best Original Song||Won|
|2004||Los Angeles Film Critics Association||Best Music||A Mighty Wind||Nominated|
|2004||Florida Film Critics Association||Best Ensemble Cast||Won|
|2004||Phoenix Film Critics Society||Best Ensemble Acting||Nominated|
|2004||Seattle Film Critics Awards||Best Music||Won|
|2006||Gotham Awards||Best Ensemble Performance||For Your Consideration||Nominated|
|2016||Broadcast Television Critics Association||Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series||Better Call Saul||Nominated|
|2019||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series||Nominated|
- "It's Lenny & Squiggy". people.com. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24.
- "Michael McKean Biography (1947–)". FilmReference.com. Archived from the original on August 1, 2014. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
- Henderson, Kathy (October 26, 2009). "Michael McKean Savors the Taste of Superior Donuts". Broadway.com. Archived from the original on May 2, 2014. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
- "Michael John McKean". geni_family_tree. Archived from the original on 17 September 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
- Castillo, Arielle (April 24, 2009). "Q&A With Michael McKean of Spinal Tap, Appearing at the Fillmore Miami Beach on May 5!". Miami New Times. Archived from the original on May 18, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
- Wink, Roger (March 21, 2015). "R.I.P. Michael Brown of The Left Banke 1949-2015". The Noise Network. Archived from the original on March 2, 2018. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
- "Comedy for the Cure". Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Archived from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
- Wright, Megh (July 9, 2013). "Saturday Night's Children: Michael McKean (1994-1995) | Splitsider". Splitsider. Archived from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
- on YouTube. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
- "Michael McKean Returns to Smallville". TVGuide.com. Archived from the original on 2010-01-23.
- Carlson, Erin (May 31, 2012). "Michael McKean released from hospital to begin physical rehab". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on May 31, 2012.
- "Injury forces Michael McKean out of Broadway show". ap.org. Retrieved May 23, 2012.
- "Lyndon B. Johnson Bio-Play All the Way, Starring Bryan Cranston, Begins Performances on Broadway". Broadway.com. Archived from the original on 2014-03-05.
- "Michael McKean Cast in the Breaking Bad Prequel Better Call Saul: Find Out Who He's Playing". E! Online. Archived from the original on 2014-05-02.
- Pedersen, Erik (September 15, 2017). "'Good Omens': Jack Whitehall, Michael McKean, Miranda Richardson & Adria Arjona Join Amazon Series". Deadline.com.
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