Beloved “Laverne & Shirley” Comedian Dies.

Penny Marshall, who played Laverne in ‘Laverne & Shirley’ dies at 75.


Penny Marshall, who costarred as a Milwaukee brewery worker in the top-rated 1970s and ’80s sitcom “Laverne & Shirley” before becoming a manager of hit movies such as “Large” and “A League of Their Own,” has passed away.

Marshall died on Monday night in her Hollywood Hills house to complications that was due from diabetes, Michelle Bega, a spokeswoman for Marshall’s family, told The Times on Tuesday.

“Our family is heartbroken on the passing of Penny Marshall,” the Marshall family said in a statement.

“One, two, three, four, five, seven, seven, eight! Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated,” Marshall and costar Cindy Williams famously chanted because they jumped down the sidewalk at the opening sequence of”Laverne & Shirley.”

A spin-off of”Happy Days,””Laverne & Shirley” starred Marshall as the feisty Laverne De Fazio and Williams as the idealistic Shirley Feeney, two 1950’s working-class roommates who worked on the assembly line in the Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee.

“There were not any blue-collar women on tv” when “Laverne & Shirley” debuted, executive producer Garry Marshall, Penny’s brother, formerly said in an interview for the Archive of American Television.

Viewers, he explained,”were dying to get somebody that didn’t look like Mary Tyler Moore or all the pretty women on TV.  And my sister looks like a regular person – talks like a regular person – and Cindy Williams was brilliant as Shirley.”

With her deadpan demeanor and flat-toned Bronx accent that a TV Guide writer once described as sounding like “a groan filtered through a whine,” Marshall had been making minor inroads in Hollywood for many years ahead of the Laverne and Shirley characters surfaced as Richie and Fonzie’s double dates on an episode of”Happy Days” in 1975.

Marshall’s career received big boosts from brother Garry, who had been an executive producer on “The Odd Couple.” In addition, he created”Happy Days” and co-created “Laverne & Shirley.”

“I am sure people thought I got components as my brother was being nice, and atfirst I probably thought the same thing,” Penny Marshall told The Times in 1988.

“But my brother finally explained, ‘I am not giving you a work’ cause I’m nice. I’m not that nice.'” . At that time”Laverne & Shirley” surfaced, Marshall was married to Rob Reiner, who had gained fame on “All in the Family” playing Archie Bunker’s liberal son-in-law.

Marshall’s work on her hit series drew her then-father-in-law, Carl Reiner’s admiration.

“She has all the tools,” he told TV Guide in 1976.

“Laverne & Shirley” had been off the air three years after Marshall made her feature movie debut as a director of this 1986 Whoopi Goldberg comedy “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”

She had directed four episodes of”Laverne & Shirley” and the pilot for the short-lived 1979 sitcom “Working Stiffs” when she received an abrupt offer to replace manager Howard Zieff 10 days into the shooting of”Jumpin’ JackFlash.” “It was real scary,” Marshall told the New York Times in 1992.

“Big,” a fantasy story in which a boy wakes up in the body of an adult man played by Tom Hanks, made Hanks an Oscar nomination and made Marshall the first female manager in Hollywood history to lead a movie that grossed more compared to 100 million.

Marshall appeared to her brother Garry Marshall in some fashion in a small number of roles in recent years connected. That exact same year, Penny Marshall appeared at a particular episode of this rebooted CBS series”The Odd Couple” memorializing her brother, along with serving as a narrator on her brother’s final movie,”Mother’s Day” .

“I just cannot bring myself to take that the homely person on the display is me,” Marshall told TV Guide in 1976.

Despite her later career success as a director, her days on “Laverne & Shirley” had an enduring effect.

“I must say that it appears that folks recall or have watched it out of reruns on TV Land or Nickelodeon,” she told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at 2007.

“I go to the baseball game, and they all still yell, ‘Laverne!'” .

Marshall is survived by her sister Ronny, daughter Tracy Reiner and three grandchildren, Spencer, Bella and Viva.


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