Actress/Entertainer Penny Marshall Dead At 75
Posted Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - 12:38 pm
Funeral services were pending Tuesday for Penny Marshall, who rose to fame portraying street-wise Laverne De Fazio in the 1970s sitcom “Laverne and Shirley” but later became a successful director by helming films such as “Big” and “A League of Their Own.”
Marshall died Monday at her Hollywood Hills home due to complications of diabetes, according to a family spokeswoman. She was 75.
“Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall,” according to a statement from her family.
Born in the Bronx — the sister of eventual director/producer Garry Marshall — Marshall had some small roles on television before her brother cast her as Oscar Madison’s secretary in the TV series “The Odd Couple.” She landed a series of small film roles before landing a lead role in the TV series “Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers.” That role led her to a regular role on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and ultimately a guest shot on “Happy Days” playing Laverne De Fazio, alongside Cindy Williams as her character’s best friend, Shirley Feeney.
That role led to the creation of “Laverne and Shirley” — co-created by Garry Marshall — in 1976. The show was a hit, and ran through 1983.
Marshall did her first directing work on “Laverne and Shirley,” but moved into films by helming Whoopi Goldberg’s “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” But she established herself as a formidable director with the 1988 Tom Hanks hit “Big,” which made her the first woman to direct a film that earned more than $100 million domestically.
She also directed the Oscar-nominated “Awakenings,” “A League of Their Own,” “The Preacher’s Wife” and “Riding in Cars with Boys.”
Marshall was married for about 10 years to actor/director Rob Reiner in the 1970s.
“I loved Penny,” Reiner wrote on his Twitter page. “I grew up with her. She was born with a great gift. She was born with a funnybone and the instinct of how to use it. I was very lucky to have lived with her and her funnybone. I will miss her.”
Billy Crystal added: “Sad to hear of Penny Marshall’s passing. A great comedienne a terrific director and a dear friend.”
She is survived by her sister — TV producer Ronny Hallin — daughter Tracy Reiner and three grandchildren, Spencer, Bella and Viva. Garry Marshall died in 2016.