American Actress, producer and director Penny Marshall best known for her role as “Laverne” in Laverne and Shirley and from the cast of Happy Days has died at age 75 according to her publicist.
Carole Penny Marshall(October 15, 1943 – December 17, 2018) was an American actress, director and producer. She was the daughter of Marjorie Marshall, a tap dance teacher, and Tony Marshall, a film director and producer.
Her parents’ background in entertainment, along with her brother, Garry Marshall’s, background as a comedy writer and her sister’s background as a casting director and producer, gave rise to Marshall’s career in the industry.
Garry Marshall, creator/part-time writer for Happy Days, cast Marshall and Cindy Williams to guest on an episode of that show.
The installment, titled “A Date with Fonzie”, aired on November 11, 1975 and introduced the characters LaVerne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney (played by Marshall and Williams, respectively).
In that episode, Laverne and Shirley were a pair of wise-cracking brewery workers, who were dates for Fonzie (played by Winkler) and Richie (played by Howard).
The pair were such a hit with the studio audience that Garry Marshall decided to co-create and star them in a successful spin-off, Laverne & Shirley (1976–1983).
The characters of Laverne and Shirley also appeared in five more episodes of Happy Days. In 1982 at the beginning of Laverne & Shirley’s eighth season, Williams left the show due to her pregnancy.
Marshall continued with the show, but it was canceled after the season’s final episode aired in May 1983. It would take a few years before the actresses were reconciled.
Marshall progressed to directing films in the 1980s, making her directorial debut with Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986) before directing Big (1988), which became the first film directed by a woman to gross more than $100 million at the U.S. box office.
Her subsequent directing credits included Awakenings (1990), which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, A League of Their Own (1992), Renaissance Man (1994), The Preacher’s Wife (1996), and Riding in Cars with Boys (2001). She also produced Cinderella Man (2005) and Bewitched (2005), as well as episodes of the sitcom According to Jim.
The cause of death was stated as “complications from Diabetes.”
Following Penny Marshall’s passing her ex-husband Rob Reiner took to twitter to say: “I loved Penny. 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.”