Hollywood has lost a legend…the legend that is Penny Marshall.
Marshall, who gained fame as Laverne DeFazio first in Happy Days then the hit spin-off Laverne and Shirley before becoming one of the most renowned filmmakers alongside her late brother Garry, passed away Monday night at the age of 75.
Born Carole Penny Marshall on October 15, 1943 in the Bronx, New York, her brother Garry and sister Ronny Hallin were also involved in the industry as legends in their own rights. Out of the trio, Penny was considered “the bad one”. In 1961, at the age of 18, she gave birth to daughter Tracy. Seven years later, Garry put Penny in his film How Sweet It Is! and it would become the start of a successful career for Marshall.
Penny’s breakout role would be that of Myrna Turner, the wisecracking secretary to Oscar Madison in the hit series The Odd Couple. In 1971, she married fellow Bronx resident and another legendary actor/filmmaker, Rob Reiner. Daughter Tracy would use his last name when she started following in their footsteps to start her acting career. But nothing compared to what happened next.
Her brother Garry had a successful hit show called Happy Days, set in 1950’s Milwaukee. He cast Penny as Laverne DeFazio, a tough-talking Italian-American woman who was the girlfriend of “The Fonz” himself. Along with Cindy Williams’ Shirley Feeney, Penny was a hit amongst fans and Garry would come up with the idea to create a spin-off, Laverne and Shirley, which ran from 1976-1983 with Happy Days making its final bow a year later.
The experience on working with her brother allowed her to direct episodes of Laverne and Shirley but once that show and Happy Days ended, Garry and Penny decided to transition into films with success. Penny made her feature film directorial debut with the mystery-comedy Jumpin’ Jack Flash in 1986 starring Whoopi Goldberg. She would go on to direct two of Tom Hanks‘ best films of his career, 1988’s Big and 1992’s A League of Their Own. She would go on to direct Renaissance Man in 1994 and The Preacher’s Wife in 1996, followed by her last feature film as a director, Riding in Cars With Boys in 2001.
Penny would continue success as a producer and also occasionally popping up in front of the cameras, sometimes with her brother, as with the case with Hocus Pocus yet she would be appearing on the occasional television series as well.
Penny is survived by sister Ronny Hallin and daughter Tracy Reiner. Her brother, Garry Marshall, died in 2016.
World Film Geek sends its condolences to the family of Penny Marshall. As a final tribute, here’s YouTube user Jackson Kim and the Top 5 Cutest Moments from Laverne & Shirley
Rest in Peace, Penny Marshall. Forever a legend.