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Monday, December 17, actress and comedian Penny Marshall was found dead in her Los Angeles home. According to her publicist, Michelle Bega, the actress died due to complications with her diabetes. Penny Marshall first rose to fame from her efforts in the 1970s. She starred as Laverne in the sitcom“Laverne and Shirley”, and eventually evolved into a powerhouse director, becoming the first female director to gross over $100 million in a film.
The sitcom Marshall was involved in went on to be a household name, along with the character she played as, Laverne DeFazio. In the sitcom, DeFazio was a blue-collar worker at a beer factory. The show aired between 1976 and 1983. After her work there, she went into being a director and produced a string of movies.
One of them made it big, making her the first female director gross over $100 million. The film was called Big ” and was produced in 1988, starring Tom Hanks.
From there, Marshall continued to produce massive hits. Of note was her film “A League of Their Own” which passed the $100 million mark, too. This was the second film to do that, and starred Hanks, Geena Davis, and Madonna.
Her other directions were “Renaissance Man,” which starred Danny DeVito, Mark Wahlberg, and Gregory Hines. This film was Wahlberg’s first feature film role. There was also “The Preacher’s Wife” starring Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington. Finally, there was “Riding in Cars with Boys,” which starred Drew Barrymore. That film was based on the autobiography of the same name.
Her brother also passed away a few years ago at 81. Gary Marshall was heavily involved in Penny’s life. For one, he created the sitcom “Happy Days” which was a spinoff of “Laverne and Shirley.” Also, Gary was the one who gave Penny her breakthrough role thanks to his assistance.
Over Marshall’s life, she was married and divorced twice. First was with Michael Henry. They wed in 1961 and divorced later in 1963. During her time with Henry, she gave birth to her daughter.
Then in 1971, she wed with Rob Reiner, an actor, and director. That relationship lasted until 1979, but Reiner did release a string of tweets reflecting on her death.
“I loved Penny. I grew up with her. She was born with a great gift. She was born with a funny bone and the instinct of how to use it. I was very lucky to have lived with her and her funny bone. I will miss her.”
Marshall was also involved in Ron Howard’s work as well. She was the one to help Howard produce the 2005 film “Cinderella Man.” Howard tweeted:
“She made the transition from sitcom star to A-List movie director with ease & had a major impact on both mediums All that & always relaxed, funny & totally unpretentious. I was lucky to have known & worked with her.”