Penny Marshall, who co-starred in US comedy show Laverne & Shirley before becoming one of the top-grossing female directors in Hollywood, has died at 75.
- Marshall starred in the Happy Days spin-off Laverne & Shirley
- Her directorial career included hits Big, A League of Their Own and Jumping Jack Flash
- She was the first female director to make a film which grossed more than US$100 million at the US box office
Marshall’s publicist said the actress and director passed away in her home in Hollywood Hills, California, on Monday (local time) due to complications from diabetes.
“Our family is heartbroken,” the Marshall family said in a statement.
Marshall starred as Laverne DeFazio, the Milwaukee brewery worker, alongside Cindy Williams in the hit ABC comedy Laverne & Shirley. The series, which aired from 1976 to 1983, was among the biggest hits of its era.
It also gave Marshall her start as a filmmaker. She directed several episodes of Laverne & Shirley before making her feature film directorial debut in Jumpin’ Jack Flash, the 1986 comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg.
Her next film made Marshall the first woman to direct a film that grossed more than $US100 million. Her 1988 hit comedy Big, starring Tom Hanks, was about a 12-year-old boy who wakes up in the body of a 30-year-old New York City man.
The film earned Hanks an Oscar nomination.
Tom Hanks plays a toy piano in Marshall’s 1988 film Big
Marshall re-teamed with Hanks for A League of Their Own, the 1992 comedy about the women’s professional baseball league begun during World War II. That, too, crossed $US100 million, making $US107.5 million.
A Bronx native, Marshall became a dedicated Los Angeles Lakers fan, and a courtside regular.
A scene from Marshall’s 1992 hit A League of Their Own (WARNING: Coarse language)
Her brother Garry Marshall, who died in 2016, was also one of Hollywood’s top comedy directors.
Penny Marshall was married to Michael Henry for two years in the 1960s and to the director Rob Reiner from 1971-1981. Their daughter Tracy Reiner is an actress; one of her first roles was a brief appearance in Jumpin’ Jack Flash.
Reiner said Marshall 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,” he said on Twitter.
Hanks responded to the news of Marshall’s passing by expressing his love for the director on Twitter, commenting “Man, did we laugh a lot!”
Tom Hanks tweet
Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik said she had grown up wanting to be as funny as Marshall, while fellow actress Marlee Matlin shared a photo on Twitter of her trying to emulate Marshall.
“I’m sad to read she has passed. Director, producer and actress who had the humour, wit and fortitude to stand equally with the boys in Hollywood. Goodbye Penny, we will miss you. RIP,” Matlin shared with the photo.
Ava DuVernay, director of Selma and A Wrinkle in Time, praised Marshall as a trailblazing talent.
Fellow director and Happy Days star Ron Howard remembered Marshall as a creative talent who had made a major impact on both the film and television industry, all the while staying “relaxed, funny and totally unpretentious.”