Penny Marshall (1943 - 2018), filmmaker and "Laverne and Shirley" star

20 December, 2018, 00:28 | Author: Jared Lewis
  • Penny Marshall Iconic Director and Star of Laverne and Shirley Dies at 75

Penny Marshall, the trailblazing director of smash-hit big-screen comedies who first indelibly starred in the top-rated sitcom "Laverne & Shirley", has died.

TMZ reports Marshall died Monday night at her Hollywood Hills home.

Today, at the age of 75 years old, Penny Marshall passed away. She was a casting director on "Happy Days" and "Laverne & Shirley", was an assistant to the executive producer on both of those shows, and worked as a casting coordinator on "Mork & Mindy", "Joanie Loves Chachi", "The New Odd Couple", "Happy Days" and "Larvene & Shirley".

Marshall said her reputation as a moneymaker helped bring more film-directing jobs to women, and she made her best-known films when other women such as Amy Heckerling and Nora Ephron were starting to make inroads as directors.

Marshall noted that the starring role in Big nearly went to tough-guy actor Robert De Niro, who she would later direct in Awakenings (1990), also starring Robin Williams.

She repeated that success in 1992 with the film "A League of Their Own", which chronicled a women's baseball league in the 1940s and featured an all-star cast that included Geena Davis and Madonna.

Marshall is survived by her older sister Ronny, daughter Tracy Reiner, who acted in "A League of Her Own", and three grandchildren Spencer, Bella and Viva.

Happy Days matriarch Marion Ross said, "Our dear sweet Penny has gone up to see Garry".

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Awakenings, released in 1990, saw Marshall handed a dramatic plotline about a doctor (Robin Williams) who refuses to give up on a ward of comatose patients (among them, Robert De Niro).

"Penny Marshall had me audition 6 times for a role and then I didn't get it".

Penny Marshall directed several episodes of the show.

Marshall's triumphs as a director broke new ground the male-dominated movie industry, and she became the first female director to score a US$100 million gross with Big in 1988. Her mother Marjorie ran her own tapdance school, and her father Anthony a director and producer of industrial films. Beyond doubt she was able to excel at anything she put her world class mind & heart to and, lucky us, she picked comedy and films which celebrated humans.

It also gave Marshall her start as a filmmaker. Her first film as director was Jumpin' Jack Flash, a 1986 comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg. "Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!", but she was so much more than Laverne DeFazio.

Gladiator actor Russell Crowe said: "Penny told me the story of Jim Braddock, which became the movie Cinderella Man".

"Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall", the Marshall family said in a statement.

The aspiring actress was hardly blessed with typical Hollywood looks - she once appeared as the "before" photo in an ad for a beauty product, with Farrah Fawcett as the "after" girl - and Marshall never lost the thick accent of her home borough. "She could play round ball with the best of them".



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