Penny Marshall, one half of the duo in the hit sitcom Laverne & Shirley and groundbreaking comedy director, passed away at the age of 75 due to complications from diabetes, shared a family spokesman. Marshall had a previous battle with lung cancer, which went into remission in 2013. Her brother, fellow actor-director and writer Garry Marshall, passed away in 2016.
Marshall’s jump to A-list stardom was due to her leading role in Laverne & Shirley where she portrayed the former, the series itself created by her brother as a spin-off to the hit series Happy Days. Marshall herself directed a few episodes, thus helping her establish a career as a filmmaker.
Her fellow Happy Days co-star Ron Howard, who also became an acclaimed film director, posted on Twitter his recollection of Marshall and how she transitioned from actress to director – quote tweeting also a photo of Marshall on one of her movie sets.
Some of her directing credits in the late 80s-early 90s were comedy hits such as Big, which made Marshall the first female director with a film crossing $100M in the box office. Her critically acclaimed 1990 film Awakenings, starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams, was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
But probably her most remembered creation would be the 1992 sports comedy-drama film A League of Their Own, which was about an all-female baseball team led by Geena Davis and also starred Tom Hanks (who earned his first Oscar nomination in Big).
Hanks tweeted a short message to Marshall, recalling their laughing moments. Fellow A League of Their Own actresses like Rosie O’Donnell and Geena Davis began tweeting fond memories with Marshall, as well as sharing tributes by other Hollywood celebrities.
Marshall’s ex-husband, director Rob Reiner, remembers her for her unusual humor and how she was able to translate it into her films and series appearances. She served as inspiration for many female directors, such as Ava DuVerney who tweeted a photo of Marshall beside a film camera.
Other comedians who posted tributes for Marshall include A-listers like Billy Crystal, Danny DeVito, George Takei, Akwafina, and Josh Gad. There is no doubt that Penny Marshall is a trailblazer in Hollywood for comedy and directing, but above all has became a great influence for women to reach greater heights in show business. She will be truly missed.