Penny Marshall, ‘Laverne & Shirley’ Star and Legendary Director, Dead at 75
Penny Marshall, legendary comedic actress and film director, has died at 75. TMZ reports that Marshall passed away Monday night (December 17) at her Hollywood Hills home, due to complications from diabetes.
Marshall got her start with smaller recurring roles on classic sitcoms like The Odd Couple and The Mary Tyler Moore Show from 1974 to 1976. Marshall's breakout roll was Laverne DeFazio, a loud-but-lovable Italian from Brooklyn who first appearing on the hit '70s sitcom Happy Days and then in the hit spin-off Laverne & Shirley. Marshall, alongside Cindy Williams, carried the iconic ABC series, full of hilarious physical comedy, for eight seasons, from 1976 to 1983.
After making a name for herself as the show's star, Marshall tried her hand at directing a few episodes and discovered a passion behind the camera. A few years after the sitcom ended, Marshall fatefully found herself at the helm of her first major film, directing the 1986 comedy Jumpin' Jack Flash starring Whoopi Goldberg.
Marshall's next film was the 1988 hit Big starring Tom Hanks, which became the first film directed by a woman to gross more than $100 million domestically. Truly iconic.
With her 1990 drama Awakenings, starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams, Marshall became just the second woman ever to direct a film nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Again, iconic.
Marshall's next box office win as a director was A League of Their Own, the 1992 drama-comedy based on the real story of the World War II-era All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, starring Madonna, Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, and Rosie O’Donnell. This film also crossed the $100 million mark.
Marshall went on to direct hit films like the 1996 Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington-starring The Preacher's Wife, and 2001's Riding in Cars with Boys starring Drew Barrymore. Marshall also directed episodes of more recent hit TV series According to Jim and United States of Tara.
The Hollywood legend was born Carole Penny Marshall on Oct. 15, 1943, and lived with her family in the Bronx, New York. After dropping out of college, having her daughter Tracy, and a failed marriage, Marshall headed to Los Angeles in 1967, following in the footsteps of her older brother Garry Marshall, who was already writing for hit TV sitcoms.
Penny's older brother Garry Marshall, who passed in 2016, is also a Hollywood legend, having directed hit films such as Pretty Woman in 1990, Runaway Bride in 1999, The Princess Diaries in 2001, and more.
Hollywood and fans around the world will surely miss Penny Marshall's unique knack for telling a story, but we're thankful and lucky to have all her incredible work from over the past 50 years to remember her by.
Check out some of today's touching tributes to Penny from fellow Hollywood directors, comedians and stars: