The Student News Site of Shorewood High School

Shorewood Ripples

The Student News Site of Shorewood High School

Shorewood Ripples

The Student News Site of Shorewood High School

Shorewood Ripples

David Zucker returns to SHS alma mater

Hollywood director of 1980s hit comedy movie visits
courtesy Shorewood School District
Principal Tim Kenney (left), David Zucker (middle), senior Jillian Beaster (right)

On Thursday, November 2, the Shorewood Foundation hosted Hollywood filmmaker and Shorewood alum David Zucker. During lunch, a conversation with students was held in SHS’s Gensler Auditorium, serving as an opportunity for Zucker to share his memories of Shorewood High School in the 1960s. Later that night, a screening of his 1980 hit comedy, Airplane!, was shared with over 300 viewers in the Auditorium, followed by a Q&A session.

“This past summer, David mentioned he was planning a book launch this fall in eastern Wisconsin,” said Sadhna Lindvall, President of the Shorewood Foundation. “Meanwhile, [the] foundation was planning activities to celebrate 60 years of service in the community…so the stars aligned.”

Lindvall believes that Zucker thoroughly enjoys his time visiting his childhood town, and continues to share his experiences and love for Shorewood. 

Even though David’s career has taken him to Los Angeles, he still very much considers Shorewood his home,” Lindvall said. “His love for this community, and its people, are pretty evident when he talks about growing up here and meeting people here.”

One of Zucker’s most fond memories of Shorewood is his banter with his former math teacher Richard Kenney, SHS principal Tim Kenney’s father.

“I would always be, you know, just blurting out jokes and funny lines in class,” said Zucker. “There was a lot of laughter in the school and we had a lot of laughs with the teachers, mainly Mr. Kenney.”

Zucker shared several stories of pranks and comedic outbursts he shared in Kenney’s class and in the Copperdome. One memory he enjoys the most: once, as punishment for being disruptive, Zucker was ordered to write “I will not talk out of turn” 500 times on a sheet of paper and return it to Kenney. He remembers that halfway through, he wrote, “I bet Mr. Kenney isn’t reading this,” followed by Kenney stating to the class “Well I bet I do, Dave.”

Reminiscing on his high school years, Zucker appreciates Shorewood’s fun nature and encouragement of creativity. 

“At the time, I don’t know if I knew how good it was,” Zucker said. “I really loved how a lot of the teachers always encouraged us to be creative.”

He mainly enjoyed his Assembly Training class, a course where students created four programs to present to the school during assemblies. Zucker primarily wrote comedic skits.

“It was kind of the first audience that we had, right there in that theater… I can’t recall what we did or what the jokes were, but [whatever it was] it got a great reaction,” Zucker said. “I think Jerry Harrison may have also been in one where he came on stage riding a skateboard.”

He believes that Shorewood’s creativity supported his comedic career.

“What I need to say is that I think Shorewood allowed us to [have fun], I think it was mainly the kind of humor that existed at Shorewood,” Zucker said. 

Originally wanting to create funny television commercials, Zucker took every opportunity to shoot eight-millimeter films on whatever he could.

“Usually we made our family Thanksgiving parties turn into Mission Impossible,” Zucker said. “We [featured] everybody and when we showed it, everybody laughed.”

The ZAZ director trio composed of Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams and David Zucker have now released their book Surely You Can’t Be Serious: The True Story of Airplane! made up of never before heard stories, pictures and memories of Shorewood High School. With the release of the new book and the filming of a new film-noir spoof coming in the spring, Zucker is optimistic about the future. 

“This is the best I’ve ever felt in my life… I’m at the peak of my creativity, I can still write, I can still direct,” Zucker said. “All of the studios don’t know that; they seem to think I’m dead or in a wheelchair.”

Zucker encourages students to pursue their dreams, and stay open-minded to what Shorewood has to offer.

“When you grow up in Milwaukee, you don’t think that you could become a Hollywood movie director,” Zucker said. “I mean, Airplane! was the first, and it was the breakthrough, and, you know, you can only come out of nowhere once.”

Airplane! has made a significant impact on junior Enzo Litz’s life, with both sides of his family bonding over its humor. 

“I grew up with lots of Airplane! references and I would see my family always quoting it and laughing,” Litz said. “It is an important movie for both sides of my family…something about it just clicks with us.”

Litz appreciated the opportunity to meet and talk with Zucker one-on-one.

“He is a super down to earth guy and it’s cool to see how much someone from Shorewood can do and accomplish in their life, and you hope to be the next one,” Litz said.