All together now: NOOOOOOOOOOOO. And more NOOOOOOOOS.
The legendary Penny Marshall is doing the saddest schlemiel schlimazel dance up to heaven after dying at her home in the Hollywood Hills last night. She was 75. Penny’s rep Michelle Bega confirmed this Mt. Everest-sized sad, saying that she died from diabetes complications:
“Yes she did (die) … peacefully at her Hollywood Hills home. She passed away form complications from diabetes.”
Because I watched reruns of Laverne & Shirley over and over again (and happened to love when they moved to Burbank, and partly because we got Rhonda), it’s weird knowing that this is now a world without Laverne from Laverne & Shirley in it. But Penny Marshall was so much more than Laverne.
Penny directed Big (which was the first movie directed by a woman that made more than $100 million), and one of my favorites from the 90s A League Of Their Own with Rosie O’Donnell, who would later join Penny as the dynamic duo of KMart! Christmas just isn’t the same without this big box magic:
Penny was born in the Bronx and went to the University of New Mexico where she majored in math and psychology. Penny’s brother Garry Marshall was working as a TV writer in Los Angeles, so she moved there and got into the acting game. She guest-starred on a handful of TV shows before Garry cast her as Oscar’s secretary in The Odd Couple, which she was in for four years. She did more TV acting before landing the iconic role of Laverne, opposite Cindy Williams’ Shirley, on an episode of Happy Days in 1975. They were so popular with viewers that Garry created the spin-off Laverne & Shirley and it ran for 8 seasons. The Emmys have always been a mess, I guess, because Penny never got one Emmy nomination for Laverne & Shirley. The show didn’t get any nominations either. ILLEGAL, that’s what that is.
Penny directed several episodes of L&S, and in 1986, she made her movie debut as a director when she directed Whoopi Goldberg in Jumpin’ Jack Flash. She also directed Awakenings, Renaissance Man, The Preacher’s Wife, and Riding In Cars With Boys. Penny also continued to act in TV and movies, and was in Hocus Pocus.
She had one daughter, Tracy Henry (who later changed her name to Tracy Reiner), with her first husband, and married Rob Reiner in 1971. They divorced 10 years later.
Rest in peace, Penny Marshall. May the streets become a river of Pepsi Milk from everyone pouring one out for you. And you and Carrie Fisher have been reunited in heaven where the dude angels are serving you while dressed like Playboy Bunnies.