Sad news today, as the actress turned director Penny Marshall has died at the age of 75. She first gained fame as Laverne on the classic 1970’s sitcom Laverne & Shirley, a spinoff of Happy Days, and a role which earned her three Golden Globe nominations from 1976-1983. She then went on to become a successful director and producer, displaying a light touch and a feel for blending comedy and drama. She was the first woman to direct a movie that made over $100 million at the box office (first Big and then she did it again with A League of Their Own) and one of only seven women to have one of her films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars (Awakenings). Her filmography included Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986), Big (1988), Awakenings (1990), A League of Their Own (1992), Renaissance Man (1994), The Preacher’s Wife (1996) and Riding in Cars With Boys (2001). The sister of Garry Marshall, who produced and co-created Laverne & Shirley, and with whom she worked together quite often, she was also married to Rob Reiner from 1971 to 1981, with whom she has a daughter Tracy, and five grandchildren. She passed away from complications of diabetes in Los Angeles.
Check out this American Bandstand interview from ‘76 for the way she handles these crazy sexist questions from the audience. I love her reaction to the idea that she’d rather be a full time wife, and Dick Clark condescendingly approves that “all women ought to have activity.” Thanks, Dick.