No doubt you’ve heard the “Laverne & Shirley” theme song quite often this week, with the passing of the sitcom’s co-star, Penny Marshall on Dec. 17.
At the beginning of each show Marshall, who played Laverne, and Cindy Williams, aka Shirley, skipped down a street chanting “one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”
Did any of us know what those words meant?
Here are five things to know about one of TV’s most iconic theme songs.
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One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.
Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!
We’re gonna do it!
Give us any chance, we’ll take it.
Give us any rule, we’ll break it.
We’re gonna make our dreams come true.
Doin’ it our way.
Nothin’s gonna turn us back now,
Straight ahead and on the track now.
We’re gonna make our dreams come true,
Doin’ it our way.
There is nothing we won’t try,
Never heard the word impossible.
This time there’s no stopping us.
We’re gonna do it.
On your mark, get set, and go now,
Got a dream and we just know now,
We’re gonna make our dream come true.
And we’ll do it our way, yes our way.
Make all our dreams come true,
And do it our way, yes our way,
Make all our dreams come true
For me and you.
2. It was written by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel. They also created the theme song to “Happy Days,” according to SongFacts.com.
They didn’t know much about the characters when they were asked to write the song, Fox told the website in an interview.
“All we knew about them — because there wasn’t even a pilot script yet — we knew that they were blue collar workers, they worked in a factory in Milwaukee in a brewery, and they had hopes and dreams and ambitions about getting out and seeing life and doing things,” Fox said.
“So we wrote kind of a gentle song that was called ‘Hoping Our Dreams Will Come True.’ And we played it for the producers, and they said, ‘You know, it’s really a nice song, but this is not our characters. Our characters are not going to ‘wish and hope.’ They’re going to take the bull by the horns; they’re going to make life happen. It’s two strong-minded girls.’
So they switched the lyrics of “hoping our dreams will come true” to “making our dreams come true,” he said.
3. This was the only hit by the woman who sang it. Singer Cyndi Grecco “achieved fleeting fame” when she sang the theme song, according to MentalItch.com. The song was released as a single and hit the Top 40 in July 1976, the website reports.
4. Those words you didn’t know are Yiddish. “Schlemiel and Schlimazel are two Yiddish terms often used in a comical, but sometimes biting sense of humor,” Barry Kibrick, the host of the PBS show “Between the Lines with Barry Kibrick,” wrote for the Huffington Post.
“A Schlemiel is an inept clumsy person and a Schlimazel is a very unlucky person. There’s a Yiddish saying that translates to a funny way of explaining them both. A schlemiel is somebody who often spills his soup and a schlimazel is the person it lands on.”
Kibrick wrote that it’s a German stew “and I have no idea why it is part of this ditty except that when it is all put together you cannot help but laugh at how it sounds.”
Merriam-Webster tweeted after Marshall’s death was announced on Tuesday.
“‘Schlemiel’: an unlucky bungler. ‘Schlimazel’: a consistently unlucky person,” the dictionary folks tweeted.
5. The Violent Femmes recently covered the song. In September, the Killers and Violent Femmes opened the Fiserv Forum in downtown Milwaukee.
“Making the moment even more memorable was the Killers inviting members of the Violent Femmes onstage” to perform the show’s theme song, KROQ reported.
“It’s a pretty big deal back in Milwaukee, where ‘Laverne and Shirley’ was set.”
Three years ago, “American Idol” judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. launched into an a cappella version of the song during one episode.
“Oh my God, we watched too much TV as a kid,” said Urban, according to Billboard.