|You can almost hear the pitch meeting…
Executive #1: “I got it! Laverne and Shirley meets Private Benjamin!”
Executive #2: (Pauses, thinking, then…) “Brilliant. Work in the Fonz and a pig for a drill sergeant and you’ve got something.”
And so in the fall of 1981, ABC’s popular Tuesday night sitcom made the jump to Saturday morning cartoon, the same path Fonz and the Happy Days Gang had blazed a year earlier. Laverne and Shirley In The Army found the girls enlisted at Camp Fillmore, where their misadventures only turned more misadventurous.
Fonz and the drill sergeant pig (Sgt. Squealy) didn’t actually appear until the second season, when the show joined The Mork and Mindy/Laverne and Shirley/Fonz Hour under the title Laverne and Shirley With the Fonz. Fonzie ran the camp’s motor pool, along with his dog Mr. Cool (who could “Ayyyyyy” with the best of them). For the first season, ballistic Sgt. Turnbuckle provided the authoritarian foil to the wisecracking ladies from Milwaukee.
Penny Marshall, Cindy Williams, and Henry Winkler pulled double duty, providing the cartoon voices of the characters they had helped make popular in primetime. Williams was replaced in 1982 when she left Laverne and Shirley.