4 Famous TV Co-workers (who struggled to get along)

Image credit: 

Every work environment has its personality conflicts "“ that one co-worker that gets on your last nerve. Sure, you can do your best to avoid that person. But what happens if it's someone you absolutely have to "make nice with" in front of millions of TV viewers and your career depends on it? The following are 4 great examples of just that.

1. The Shlemiel and Shlimazel between Laverne and Shirley

Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams originally appeared as the characters Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney on an episode of Happy Days. Producer Garry Marshall (Penny's brother) thought that the pair worked well together, and that a Happy Days spin-off could become a ratings success. Williams was reluctant from the get-go, thinking that her co-star might get preferential treatment since her brother was the producer. One of the first concessions made for Williams was "cross billing" "“ when the opening credits rolled, the actresses' names appeared simultaneously, with Marshall's name at the lower left of the screen, and Williams' at the upper right. (This way, neither was considered the show's "top" star.) Nevertheless, Williams complained to TV Guide in 1977 that the writers gave Laverne more lines. Williams' manager once appeared on the set with a stopwatch to "prove" that Laverne had more speaking time than Shirley. Before long, the raging arguments over such things as the square footage of dressing rooms became so heated that actors working on nearby sets could hear them. When Williams became pregnant in 1982, the producers proposed filming as many episodes as possible before she "showed," and then having her sit out the next 10 episodes. Cindy sued, and was ultimately written out of the series.

2. Little Love between Ethel and Fred

a.fred.jpgOnscreen, Vivian Vance and William Frawley had terrific chemistry as Ethel and Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy. Offscreen, they loathed each other. It all started on the first day of rehearsals, when Vance found out that Frawley, 22 years her senior, had been cast as her husband. "He's old enough to be my father!" she complained. Unfortunately, Frawley had been within earshot when she made the remark, and the battle lines were drawn. One of Bill's more printable nicknames for Viv was "that sack of doorknobs." Desi Arnaz proposed a "Mertz" spin-off series to Frawley and Vance. Even though Bill was amenable, Vivian absolutely refused.

3. Cybill Wars: Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd's Moonlighting spats

a.moon11.jpg

Director Peter Bogdanovich spotted Cybill Shepherd on the cover of Glamour magazine in 1970 and was smitten. He cast her in The Last Picture Show, and the two began an intimate relationship. Her career didn't take off as expected, and she appeared in a string of B-movies before eventually being cast as Maddie Hayes in ABC's Moonlighting. The understanding was that Shepherd, who'd spent many years in the business, was to be the star of the show. But no one anticipated the charisma of her then unknown co-star, Bruce Willis. With his sardonic smirk and cocky insouciance, his portrayal of David Addison quickly became an audience favorite, which did not sit well with Shepherd. She resented the producers slowly turning David into a hero while making Maddie increasingly more shrewish. When the writers finally had David and Maddie "get horizontal" (in order to explain Shepherd's real-life pregnancy), Willis felt that the sexual tension between the characters had been destroyed, and that the basic premise of the show had been ruined. By the time Willis was tapped to star in Die Hard, he and Cybill were barely speaking. In fact, they filmed their scenes separately whenever possible.

4. Survey Says: Richard Dawson vs. the Match Game producers

a.match.jpgGene Rayburn was the host of Match Game, but Richard Dawson was the show's star. The British-born actor had a quick wit, and even when he playfully poked fun at a contestant's truly dreadful answer, he still remained a gentleman. He was also highly intelligent and was the overwhelming favorite when it came to choosing a panelist for the Head-to-Head match. In 1976, Mark Goodson tapped Dawson to host a new game show called Family Feud. It was an immediate hit, and as its popularity grew, numerous nighttime "specials" were also filmed. Meanwhile, Richard was still committed to filming both the daytime and evening versions of Match Game. Feeling burned out, he asked to be released from his Match Game contract. The producers refused his request, so he rebelled by becoming sullen on the set; he no longer joked or flirted with contestants, and he stopped speaking to his co-panelists. He left Match Game in 1978 and went on to win a Daytime Emmy for his work on Family Feud. Be sure to click here to watch Dawson on bad behavior.

What other backstage feuds have you heard about? Shelley Long being difficult on the Cheers set? Kim Cattrall versus Sarah Jessica Parker? Succumb to your inner Hedda Hopper and dish!

More from mental_floss...

February 21, 2008 - 4:10am
webby
submit to reddit