Penny Marshall, Director and Actor Known for 'Laverne & Shirley,' Dead at 75

Penny Marshall, Director and Actor Known for 'Laverne & Shirley,' Dead at 75

Born in New York´s Bronx borough, Marshall was the daughter of producer Tony Marshall and his tap dance teacher wife Marjorie, and a sister to legendary comedy director Garry Marshall ("Pretty Woman"), who died in 2016.

At the time of her death, Penny Marshall was in postproduction on a documentary profiling eccentric ex-basketball star Dennis Rodman, which is slated for release in 2019, according to IMDb.

Upon Laverne & Shirley's final end in 1983, Marshall went on to direct a number of Hollywood blockbusters, including Big, Awakenings and A League of Their Own.

Marshall - who attended the University of New Mexico in the '60s and had other ties to New Mexico - was the first woman to helm movies that earned more than $100 million.

Marshall reteamed with Hanks for "A League of Their Own", the 1992 comedy about the women's professional baseball league begun during World War II.

A few years of bit parts in films and on television followed, until her major break came in The Odd Couple: the sit-com adaptation of Neil Simon's play and film which her brother had developed for television. In between she appeared in the pilot for Mork & Mindy, the Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour and the short-lived cartoon Laverne & Shirley in the Army.

She also directed Robert De Niro and Robin Williams in Awakenings, which was nominated for three Academy Awards including best picture. "I felt like such a big shot with my friends that night sitting in Penny Marshall's seats watching the Clippers lose." - actor Alan Tudyk, via Twitter.

Ronny Hallin
Ronny Hallin

Marshall's family hailed her contribution to the entertainment industry in its statement, saying, "As an actress, her work on "Laverne & Shirley" broke ground featuring blue-collar women entertaining America in prime time". "I didn't say, 'Choose me to direct.' They seemed to feel I could". Though her acting career waned in later years, she continued to pop up on television, often playing off her raspy voice and gruff demeanor on shows like Frasier, The Game and Portlandia.

"I can't act that well, but I can sell a bit", she told The New Yorker in 2012 when promoting her memoir My Mother Was Nuts. She didn't know that I would audition for her forever.

It also gave Marshall her start as a filmmaker.

Later on in her career, in 2005, Penny also produced Cinderella Man, and Bewitched. Her first film as director was Jumpin' Jack Flash, a 1986 comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg. "May she rest in peace".

"Our family is heartbroken", the Marshall family said in a statement.

"Yes, she did [die]... peacefully at her Hollywood Hills home", she said. Her first was to her college sweetheart, Michael Henry, with whom she had a daughter, Tracy.

Big is a body swap comedy in the classic mold - many films from Freaky Friday to 13 Going On 30 have repeated its essential formula to varying degrees of success. "Tough as nails. She could play round ball with the best of them".

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