KEY WEST, Florida Keys -- Cindy Williams, who portrayed Shirley Feeney in the classic television series "Laverne & Shirley," has been named grand marshal of the parade highlighting Key West's Fantasy Fest, the 10-day costuming and masking festival scheduled Oct. 23 through Nov. 1.
Williams, who also starred in a sci-fi film spoof with Leslie Nielsen titled "The Creature Wasn't Nice," is to lead the Oct. 31 3Wishes.com Fantasy Fest Parade down Key West's Whitehead and Duval streets. Themed "All Hallows Intergalactic Freak Show," the 2015 festival features 10 days of lavish masquerade balls, costume contests and themed parties.
"I'm really looking forward to the spirit and camaraderie of the festival," said Williams. "Every time I think if it, in my head I just see all these colors and everybody's imagination at work and all their costuming -- all that inventiveness and creativity and fun."
Fantasy Fest is internationally recognized for its untamed revelry and lighthearted spirit. Among its nearly 50 events are a popular masquerade march starting at the Key West Cemetery, an exotic Headdress Ball and a costume contest for pets and their people.
Williams, who recently penned a well-received memoir titled "Shirley, I Jest," said she believes some of her early pre-acting jobs -- including working at West Hollywood's famed Whisky a Go Go and taking the graveyard shift at an IHOP on Sunset Boulevard -- were good preparation for Fantasy Fest's outrageous, anything-goes atmosphere.
"Nothing startles or shocks me," she said.
As well as portraying perky brewery employee Shirley Feeney in ABC's "Laverne & Shirley" from 1976 until the early '80s, Williams earned kudos for her role in the 1973 film "American Graffiti" and appearances in plays including "The Drowsy Chaperone" on Broadway.
But it's her star turn in the outer-space parody "The Creature Wasnt Nice" that connects her most closely to Fantasy Fest 2015's intergalactic theme. The offbeat epic, which paired her with Nielsen, also was called "Naked Space" and "Spaceship."
"He was the captain of the ship and I was like the ship's social coordinator and I wore a silver lamé jumpsuit," Williams recalled. "Patrick Macnee played the scientist on board and he wanted to save the creature, and the creature wanted to eat everyone on board -- and it was a musical."
Williams will be accompanied at the head of the Fantasy Fest parade by her boyfriend Tim Culbertson, an actor whose prolific career has included roles in "Battlestar Galactica" and "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan."
Williams, who admitted that visiting Key West was on her bucket list, said she thought Shirley Feeney would enjoy leading the parade, too.
"She would go along with it for the adventure of it, and she would have a very demure costume," Williams said. "Goodness only knows what Laverne would wear -- or not wear."
The 3Wishes.com Fantasy Fest Parade typically draws more than 60,000 revelers to applaud its costumed marching groups, street dancers, bands and lavishly decorated motorized floats. The 2015 parade steps off at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31.
Event information: www.fantasyfest.com
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