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Actress/director Penny Marshall dies at age 75


Last updated 12/18/2018 at 11:51am

LOS ANGELES - Funeral services were pending today for Penny Marshall, who rose to fame portraying street-wise Laverne De Fazio in the 1970s sitcom "Laverne and Shirley'' but later became a successful director by helming films such as "Big'' and "A League of Their Own.''

Marshall died Monday at her Hollywood Hills home due to complications of diabetes, according to a family spokeswoman. She was 75.

"Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall,'' according to a statement from her family.

Born in the Bronx -- the sister of eventual director/producer Garry Marshall -- Marshall had some small roles on television before her brother cast her as Oscar Madison's secretary in the TV series "The Odd Couple.'' She landed a series of small film roles before landing a lead role in the TV series "Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers.'' That role led her to a regular role on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show,'' and ultimately a guest shot on "Happy Days'' playing Laverne De Fazio, alongside Cindy Williams as her character's best friend, Shirley Feeney.

That role led to the creation of "Laverne and Shirley'' -- co-created by Garry Marshall -- in 1976. The show was a hit, and ran through 1983.

Marshall did her first directing work on "Laverne and Shirley,'' but moved into films by helming Whoopi Goldberg's "Jumpin' Jack Flash.'' But she established herself as a formidable director with the 1988 Tom Hanks hit "Big,'' which made her the first woman to direct a film that earned more than $100 million domestically.

She also directed the Oscar-nominated "Awakenings,'' "A League of Their Own,'' "The Preacher's Wife'' and "Riding in Cars with Boys.''

Marshall was married for about 10 years to actor/director Rob Reiner in the 1970s.

She is survived by her sister -- TV producer Ronny Hallin -- daughter Tracy Reiner and three grandchildren, Spencer, Bella and Viva. Garry Marshall died in 2016.


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