Penny Marshall, the actress-turned-director-turned-producer, has passed away due to complications from diabetes. In her 75 years, she inspired laughter and tears through her own iconic performances and the many classic films she directed and produced.
Marshall started her acting career with a recurring guest role on The Odd Couple, directed by her brother, Garry Marshall. But her big break came when her brother needed a character named Laverne DeFazio for another of his hits, Happy Days. She, along with co-star Cindy Williams, reprised their roles in the incredibly successful spin-off Laverne & Shirley which ran for eight seasons. Marshall’s Laverne, with the signature “L” embroidered on all her clothes, is one of the most iconic TV characters of all time.
According to THR, Marshall passed away on Monday, December 17, 2018 in her Hollywood Hills home. In a statement released by her family, they stated, “We hope her life continues to inspire others to spend time with family, work hard and make all of their dreams come true.” After her success in front of the camera, Marshall followed in her brother’s footsteps and began directing. She started out directing television, but soon transitioned to feature films in 1986 with Jumpin’ Jack Flash starring Whoopi Goldberg. Her second feature, Big, starring Tom Hanks, was a massive success and made Marshall the first woman to direct a movie that grossed more than $100 million - though her barrier-breaking has seen a slow progress in Hollywood. Her 1990 film Awakenings was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, though - unsurprisingly, given the Oscar’s track record - she was not nominated for Best Director.
Marhsall's biggest hit came in 1992 with A League of Their Own, the star-studded tribute to the Rockford Peaches, the most successful team in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The uniquely quotable film (the line “There’s no crying in baseball” is listed as one of the top movie 100 quotes of all time by the American Film Institute) has become an undisputed classic that is still inspiring stories today.
From acting to directing, Penny Marshall’s career serves as inspiration to women everywhere. From blue-collar Laverne DeFazio to star-catcher Dottie Hinson, Marshall’s work helped change perceptions and expectations both in front of and behind the camera. Her wry humor and masterful touch will be greatly missed and lovingly appreciated for decades to come.