Saying Goodbye to Penny Marshall, Dead at 75
The lyrics, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight; shlemiel, schlemazel, hasenpfeffer incorporated; We’re gonna do it…” often elicits images of two women dancing arm and arm up a sidewalk as it was the opening montage for the hit ‘70s ABC series, Laverne and Shirley, a show that remains a favorite for many to this day.
It was also the show that thrust Penny Marshall, who played Laverne, into the entertainment world and kicked off her career, which sadly ended Monday night, as Marshall died at 75 years old due to complications from diabetes.
From Laverne to Legend
While Marshall’s career didn’t officially begin with Laverne and Shirley, it was certainly the role that cast her into the public eye and spawned a successful career in Hollywood. It all began when Marshall and Cindy Williams, who played Shirley, guest starred on the hit series, Happy Days. Viewers loved the Laverne and Shirley characters, which is what led Marshall’s brother, Garry Marshall, to create Laverne and Shirley.
Laverne and Shirley ran on ABC from 1976-1983 and spawned numerous other endeavors based on the show like an animated series, a record, and plenty of merchandise.
After directing several episodes of Laverne and Shirley, it appeared that Marshall had caught the directing bug and went on to find some impressive success by directing huge successes like Jumpin’ Jack Flash in 1986, Big in 1988, and Awakenings in 1990, which received three Oscar nominations.
Marshall made history with her second directorial debut of Big by being the first woman to direct a film grossing over $100 million.
Following the massive success of the first three films that Marshall directed, she went on to experience several highs and lows in the entertainment industry. She directed several films that were not well-received as well as several others that experienced moderate success or better like A League of Their Own and The Preacher’s Wife.
Marshall certainly enjoyed an admirable career as a director but directing wasn’t her only creative endeavor – she also tried her hand at producing, writing, and continued to periodically step out from behind the camera to appear on-screen as an actress, which is truly where her career began – with acting.
For many fans of Marshall, regardless of her many accomplishments in the entertainment world, she will forever be remembered as the feisty and lovable character of Laverne that she played so many years ago. So much of Marshall was infused into that role and character – the chant of “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!” even originated from a song that Marshall used to sing with her friends on their way to school.
Marshall, who was diagnosed with and beat lung and brain cancer in 2009, will be remembered as a fighter, a trailblazer for women, a creative mind, and an unbeatable comedic talent.
A rep for the family says, “Our family is heartbroken over the passing,” and fans and friends alike took to social media to share their sorrow over Marshall’s passing, like Director Ava DuVernay who thanked Marshall “for the trails you blazed. The laughs you gave. The hearts you warmed.”
Marshall is survived by her daughter, actress Tracy Reiner, and her sister, Ronny Hallin, a TV director. Our deepest sympathies go out to all of her friends and family.
Were you a fan of Laverne and Shirley? What are some of your favorite films directed by Penny Marshall? Share your thoughts and join the conversation below.