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Actress-director Penny Marshall (1943-2018)


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The comedic actress-turned-director Penny Marshall has died at the age of 75. She succumbed to complications from diabetes Monday night at her home in Hollywood Hills, California.

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Marshall, the younger sister of the prolific television producer and film director Garry Marshall (1934-2016), became a familiar face on TV thanks to his series based on Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple. From 1972 to 1974, she played Myrna Turner, the secretary for sportswriter Oscar Madison (played by Jack Klugman). Tony Randall also starred in the series as Oscar's roommate Felix Unger.

In 1975, Marshall starred with Cindy Williams in "Laverne & Shirley," a spinoff of Garry Marshall's hit ABC television series "Happy Days." The new comedy, which also aired on ABC, featured the actresses as working girls in 1950s Milwaukee. Marshall was Laverne DeFazio; Williams played Shirley Feeney. The show, which became No. 1 in the ratings, ran for eight seasons.

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When "Laverne and Shirley" ended in 1984, Marshall began to gravitate toward directing in the tradition of her brother and her ex-husband, the actor-turned-filmmaker Rob Reiner. Her debut feature film was "Jumpin' Jack Flash," a 1986 espionage comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg as a New York bank employee who becomes involved in international intrigue.

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Marshall's next feature, "Big" (1988), was a major hit. It became the first picture directed by a woman to earn more than $100 million at the domestic box office. The film was the story of a 12-year-old New Jersey boy (David Moscow) who magically became transformed into an adult (Hanks) although he retained his preteen personality. The comedy/fantasy earned Hanks his first of five Academy Award nominations (he has won twice) and set him on the road to major stardom.

"Big" even had an iconic scene: Hanks and co-star Robert Loggia performed duets of "Heart and Soul" and "Chopsticks" on an oversized piano keyboard at FAO Schwarz in New York City.

Marshall's next film, "Awakenings" (1990), was based on British neurologist Oliver Sacks' 1973 memoir about working at a New York hospital. There, he discovered that the drug L-DOPA could resuscitate patients who had been in vegetative states for years. 

In Marshall's screen version, a fictionalized version of Sacks was played by Robin Williams. Robert De Niro co-starred as one of his patients. The drama was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor (De Niro) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Steven Zaillian). Marshall was not nominated.

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Since 1986, there have been 13 films directed or co-directed by women that have been nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. Only Jane Campion (1993 for "The Piano"), Sofia Coppola (2003 for "Lost in Translation"), Kathryn Bigelow (2009 for "The Hurt Locker") and Greta Gerwig (2017 for "Lady Bird") have received Academy Award nods for directing a nominated film. Bigelow was the only winner. Campion and Coppola received Oscars for their movies' screenplays.

Marshall reunited with Hanks for "A League of Their Own," a nostalgic 1992 comedy/drama about talented baseball-playing sisters (played by Geena Davis and Lori Petty) who join a 1940s women's professional league. The story was based on the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was founded by Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley during World War II. The league fielded more than 600 women between 1943 and 1954. The Rockford Peaches, which won four championships during that period, was used as the primary team for the movie. 
 
Hanks' character, the hard-drinking ex-major league slugger-turned-Peaches manager Jimmy Dugan, was modeled after Hall of Famer Jimmie Foxx. Long after his playing days had ended, Foxx managed the Fort Wayne Daisies of the AAGPBL during the 1952 season.
 
In a memorable scene, Dugan tells a tearful Rockford right fielder Evelyn Gardner (Schram): "There's no crying in baseball!" The line was ranked No. 54 in the American Film Institute's 2004 survey of the Top 100 movie quotes of all time. 
 

Marshall's 1996 film "The Preacher's Wife" was a soulful version of that holiday favorite "The Bishop's Wife"  (1947), which starred Cary Grant as Dudley -- a guardian angel sent to Earth to provide guidance for an Episcopalian bishop (David Niven) struggling to find funds for a new cathedral. Loretta Young played the title character, who became enchanted by the heavenly vistor.

In the 1990s remake with music, Denzel Washington played Dudley on an earthly mission to assist a troubled Baptist minister (Courtney B. Vance) in New York City. Whitney Houston starred as the title character. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score (Hans Zimmer).

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I loved Penny. I grew up with her. She was born with a great gift. She was born with a funnybone and the instinct of how to use it. I was very lucky to have lived with her and her funnybone. I will miss her.

Ron Howard Retweeted Cinespia

#RIPPennyMarshall She was funny & so smart. 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.

Goodbye, Penny. Man, did we laugh a lot! Wish we still could. Love you. Hanx.

Penny Marshall & I made Jumping Jack Flash together & the 1st film she directed & the second film i was ever in. We laughed, we yelled & for her i was a little black woman in a big silver box being dragged thru the streets of LA. My condolences to Tracy & family RIP Penny Marshall

jlb_bigger.jpgjames l. brooksVerified accou@canyonjim

God Bless Penny Marshall's extraordinary soul. Beyond doubt she was able to excel at anything she put her world class mind & heart to and, lucky us, she picked comedy and films which celebrated humans. To many of us lost ones she was, at the time, the world's greatest den mother.

Sad to hear of Penny Marshall’s passing. a great comedienne a terrific director and a dear friend.

I don't know what to say.

Let me put it this way: Penny was my friend, my coach, my comedy playmate. I was awed by her clarity and her phenomenal instincts. She found the love at the center of the hurt and somehow found the funny along the way.

DO4DEe7J_bigger.jpgGeenaDavisInstituteVerified account @GDIGM

“I’m terribly sad to hear the news about Penny passing. My heart goes out to Tracy Reiner and her family. Penny brought so much joy to so many and will be sorely missed. I will be forever grateful to her for letting me be a part of A League of Their Own.”

Geena Davis

 

Thank you, Penny Marshall. For the trails you blazed. The laughs you gave. The hearts you warmed.

At a time when men dominated, #pennymarshall broke barriers as a director, giving us hit after hit. A League of their Own, Awakenings, & Big aren’t simply great movies. They r classics made by a director who was simultaneously setting up shots while breaking down walls. RIP

I Love You, Partner.

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Laverne & Shirley was a staple of my childhood, though I stopped watching when the characters all moved to California, and Cindy Williams left soon after. While Happy Days continued to air in syndication, I really can't recall seeing L&S reruns anywhere. Consequently, I don't know that I can describe the plot of any single episode. But the characters are indelibly stamped in my mind. I'm looking at a cover of a DVD collection, and I'm struck by what a nice body Marshal had! I think I was too young to appreciate those things at the time. I do recall I was more drawn to Shirley, who seemed more refined and classy, while Laverne always struck me as a little loose! And milk & Pepsi! Yuck! When they initially appeared on Happy Days as a double date for Richie and Fonzie, they essentially had the same personality, but when spun off to their own show, Shirley became more of the cautious prude, and Laverne the carefree, hot-to-trot one (though any discussion of the girls actually having or not having sex was never brought up, to my memory).

While Williams was in a couple of major films (American Graffiti and The Conversation), I had to get on imdb to see what Marshall had done prior to the show. She seems to have been in that pool of talent that did whatever was needed in the world of television, sometimes appearing on the same show in different roles, as was more common in those days. Looks like her biggest claim to fame was playing Jack Klugman's secretary on 27 episodes of The Odd Couple. I've probably seen her on that show, as it reruns used to air on my local cable stations, and I'm sure at some point, I went, "Hey, that's Laverne!", but I don't really remember specifically from that show. I'd forgotten she was married to Rob Reiner. 

After kicking off her directing career with Jumpin' Jack Flash, she had a bigtime trifecta of both commercial and critical successes with BigAwakenings and A League of Their Own. I've seen those three movies and also Renaissance Man and Riding in Cars with Boys (I never saw The Preacher's Wife). Curiously, Riding was her last feature film, though I see she continued to direct in TV.

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The First Time I Ever Saw Penny Marshall was on " The Odd Couple", a show produced by her brother Garry Marshall.

She was just a beginner but it was amazing how she held her own with those heavy Show Business Pros, Tony Randall and Jack Klugman.

She went on to do even bigger and greater things in show business, but I will always remember her as Oscar Madison's straight talking secretary, Myrna, who could really twirl a baton and tap dance.

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Boy everywhere I used bold print on my above post, a capital A with an accent mark appeared before and after each of those bolded words. Had to go back and edit them all out. I have no idea what happened there. I hope it's not some new permanent thing that happens on these forums. I guess I could just stop putting titles in bold print.

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13 minutes ago, Princess of Tap said:

The First Time I Ever Saw Penny Marshall was on " The Odd Couple", a show produced by her brother Garry Marshall.

She was just a beginner but it was amazing how she held her own with those heavy Show Business Pros, Tony Randall and Jack Klugman.

She went on to do even bigger and greater things in show business, but I will always remember her as Oscar Madison's straight talking secretary, Myrna, who could really twirl a baton and tap dance.

Pretty much the entire Marshall family was involved with "The Odd Couple", after Garry was brought in to reboot the film-sitcom into a live-audience sitcom (like he more successfully did with "Happy Days").

Penny was no actress back then, but she did have enough comic timing to make a breakout character:

 

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She had a bit running part on the MTM show as Mary's neighbor when she moved to the High Rise. I think Lou dated her in one episode. This was before L&S. I think L&S did run in syndication, but not as long as Happy Days. I never watched either show.

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Louis VirtelVerified account @louisvirtel 1h1 hour ago

 
 

RIP Penny Marshall: “Legendary sitcom actress who directed Tom Hanks to his best comic performance,

Robin Williams to his most interesting performance,

and the definitive movie about women in sports”

is an unbelievable legacy.

=======================================

It's A Wonderful MaryaVerified account @oldfilmsflicker 1h1 hour ago

 
 

One of my ALL TIME fave directors.

Jumpin' Jack Flash.

Big.

Awakenings.

A League of Their Own.

Renaissance Man.

The Preacher's Wife.

Riding in Cars with Boys.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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23 minutes ago, Hibi said:

She had a bit running part on the MTM show as Mary's neighbor when she moved to the High Rise. I think Lou dated her in one episode. This was before L&S. I think L&S did run in syndication, but not as long as Happy Days. I never watched either show.

I watched two Garry Marshall shows: "The Odd Couple" and " Happy Days ". What I loved about both of them were the tremendous actors and actresses in these ensemble casts, who were just as talented as the Stars.

While '"Happy Days "was a very popular show in it's day; it was never on the level of "The Odd Couple", which had a unique advantage since it was based on a Neil Simon play.

I thought it was a wonderful how the Marshall family was so talented and how they were able to work so well with each other. I believe there was another brother who also worked on "The Odd Couple".

 Seems like I remember Gary talking about their mother who was a frustrated performer and taught tap dancing in their old neighborhood. And out of  her love of show business she spurred her children on to give us so much family and warm entertainment on television and in the movies.

Gary's "Princess Diaries" is exactly the sort of thing I would have loved as a preteen. Hayley Mills would have starred in it in my day, so it's wonderful that he was still presenting that kind of entertainment for youth.

 

 

 

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This is very sad. 

I used to watch Penny on Laverne & Shirley when it was on Nick at Nite.  I also enjoyed her and Shirley on Happy Days before they got their own show.  They were hilarious with Fonzie.  I also liked her on The Odd Couple and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Penny had such a unique voice and presence on screen.  Laverne was my favorite character on Laverne & Shirley with her milk & pepsi and her 'L' patches on her clothes.

I also love A League of Their Own, it's one of my favorite movies. 

RIP Penny.

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This is the saddest news....Penny-we LOVED you! 

Thank goodness Penny was so prolific and we have so much of her talent captured forever on film (well, digital) Thanks for mentioning her early sitcom roles, she was fantastic in them.

I've been singing the LAVERNE & SHIRLEY theme song all week as a "test" to see how well my voice has been recovering from a bad cold/laryngitis. So odd a coincidence.

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I'd have to say...

She's in good company( OK, sweetheart?).

I always enjoyed seeing her on "The Odd Couple" when she started on that show, as I did notice her remarkable comic abilities.  And then later directing some of my favorite movies. 

Alicia liked them too, although she really wasn't ever into the whole "who directed this" sort of thing.  Penny did resemble one of Alicia's cousins, who also passed this year( June).

Rest In Peace, Penny.  You did good.  :)

Sepiatone

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5 hours ago, MerryPickford said:

Do they update TCM remembers? why do they always do it so early?

No one knows. But it's always been this way. Then they have to shoehorn someone in every year after it runs as this always happens.

 

Sometimes they'll update it. Depends on the person who dies. One year they had to shoehorn both Joan Fontaine and Peter O'Toole in who both died on the same day in Dec. (maybe 5 yrs ago?)

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13 minutes ago, NipkowDisc said:

the odd couple was priceless...

felix: did you remember to rinse it off in alcohol?

Oscar: no, I spit-shined it and wiped it off with my t-shirt!

:lol:

Image result for the odd couple tv series

After Oscar was nice enough to fix Felix breakfast one morning, this is all he got for thanks:

Felix: " Pitts, Pitts no Pitts in my orange juice! "

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