In Memoriam: Penny Marshall (1943-2018)
A true pioneer in the film industry has passed.
Word broke earlier today that Penny Marshall, star of the television sitcom Laverne and Shirley and director of such classics as Big and A League of Their Own, passed away yesterday at the age of 75 after complications due to diabetes.
Born Carole Penny Marshall on October 15, 1943 in the Bronx, New York, Marshall was the daughter of Marjorie a tap dance teacher, and Tony, a director of industrial films and later a film producer. Marshall first appeared in a Head and Shoulders commercial before going on to appear in films such as The Savage Seven and Where’s Poppa? After appearing in five episodes of Happy Days as Laverne DeFazio, her character was spun off into its own sitcom Laverne and Shirley which ran from 1976 to 1983 and earned her three Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress in a Television Comedy.
However, Marshall is known for being a trailblazer for film direction in an era where women directors were mostly nonexistent. Her first film was the 1986 comedy Jumpin’ Jack Flash starring Whoopi Goldberg. Her sophomore effort, Big, became the first film ever directed by a woman to gross over $100 million at the box office. Awakenings, Penny Marshall’s third film was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. The last film she directed was 2001’s Riding In Cars With Boys starring Drew Barrymore. Aside from acting and directing, Marshall was also a frequent film producer, contributing her talents to films like Cinderella Man and Bewitched.
Penny Marshall was married twice, to Michael Henry and to director/actor Rob Reiner. Marshall had one child by her first husband Michael, a daughter named Tracy who later became an actress. Penny Marshall leaves behind five grandchildren from her daughter as well.
Marshall’s contribution to the film industry cannot be overstated. Penny Marshall paved the way for directors like Ava Duvernay, Lynne Ramsay, Marielle Heller, Karyn Kusama, and Oscar winner Kathryn Bieglow. The world and the film industry is a little bit colder without her in it.
RIP Penny Marshall.