Actress and director Penny Marshall, whom many will always know and love as Laverne, has died at age 75 due to complications with diabetes.
Marshall starred alongside Cindy Williams in Laverne & Shirley. Set in the same TV universe as the classic ’50s sitcom that was made in the 1970s, Happy Days – as well as the introduction to Robin Williams for many, Mork & Mindy – it was the tale of two housemates who were also best friends and co-workers at a Milwaukee brewery. It ran for 178 episodes from 1976 through to 1983, dipping its toes in the 1960s as the pair moved to Hollywood when their jobs were rendered redundant by automation.
Fans of The Simpsons will also remember Marshall’s vocal appearance as the Ms Botz, the Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers Babysitting Service sitter – and bandit – in the classic first season episode Some Enchanted Evening.
While Marshall will be remembered fondly for those television roles, her move behind the camera as a director led to the creation of some all-time favourite movies for millions.
In 1986 her first big screen hit dropped, in the Whoopi Goldberg starring vehicle Jumpin’ Jack Flash. This was quickly followed in 1988 by Tom Hanks as a big kid in the much-loved – and appropriately named – Big.
1990 saw the release of Marshall’s biographical drama Awakenings, starring old cohort Robin Williams and Robert De Niro. It garnered three Oscar nominations, including one for ‘Best Picture’.
Perhaps Marshall’s greatest success as a director, however, was with A League of Their Own in 1992. The sports dramedy, which starred Geena Davis and Marshall’s lucky charm Tom Hanks, was based around women’s baseball, and proved that yes, you could actually have female sports heroes. The movie also served as inspiration, reminding a generation that you shouldn’t be limited in what you aspire do just because of what is or isn’t between your legs.
Other Marshall-helmed movies included 1994’s Renaissance Man, The Preacher’s Wife in 1996 and 2001’s Drew Barrymore-starring Riding in Cars with Boys.
Today we say farewell to a very funny, very talented lady. Vale Penny Marshall.