The cat's out of the bag!
Taraji P. Henson may be getting lots of buzz and attention for calling her arch nemesis "Boo Boo Kitty" on Empire, but the catchphrase didn't originate on the hit Fox series.
Fans of the 1970s sitcom Laverne & Shirley have long been familiar with Boo Boo Kitty—it was the name of Shirley's stuffed animal cat!
"I've seen [Empire] and I really like it," Cindy Williams, who starred as Shirley Feeney in the iconic ABC series alongside Penny Marshall as Laverne De Fazio. "I haven't seen her say, 'Boo Boo Kitty' but people told me about it. I was thinking, 'Wow, I wonder if they got it from me, my Boo Boo Kitty.' They must have."
Maybe they did, but perhaps it was a subconscious move because Henson recently told Entertainment Weekly, "All of that is straight off the cuff. I don't know—something happens to me."
Empire co-creator Danny Strong said Henson adlibbed the line after he tried writing it five times. "And then we started writing it into the script because we loved it," he said.
Turns out the original Boo Boo Kitty line also started as an adlib while Williams was rehearsing a scene in which she's cleaning under a bed.
She forgot her line, but improvised when she noticed that a bunch of props stored under the bed included the stuffed animal. "I saw the cat and my mother had a cat that we had named Boo Boo so I said, 'Look, what I found—Boo Boo Kitty,'" Williams remembered. "The writers loved it and they started writing the character, if you will, into the show."
And yes, Williams still has the tattered toy "resting on a shelf in a closet" and writes about it in her upcoming memoir, Shirley, You Jest.
"People ask me about him all the time," Williams said. "The first thing Stevie Nicks said to me when I met her was, 'Hi, where's Boo Boo Kitty?' And people tell me all the time, 'I named my cat Boo Boo Kitty.'"
Let's just hope Jamal and Hakeem don't drop a new single called "Schlemiel! Schlimazel!"