Laverne & Shirley
“The truth is that I am not a frump. I just enjoy being laid back. I would much rather feel comfortable and feel beautiful, than to feel uncomfortable but look fantastic.” Penny Marshall
American actress, director and producer Penny Marshall rocketed to prominence through her portrayal of Laverne DeFazio on the popular sitcom “Laverne and Shirley” (ABC, 1976-1983), a spin off of the hit series “Happy Days” (both created by her older brother Garry Marshall). In addition to widespread popularity, the role also brought her three Golden Globe nominations and a 2003 TV Land Award (shared with costar Cindy Williams). She also appeared in other shows produced by her brother, including “The Odd Couple” (1972-1975, as Myrna Turner) and the pilot for “Mork & Mindy” (1978). Following the success of “Laverne and Shirley,” Marshall changed her focus from acting to a behind the camera career as a film director and producer. Making her directing debut with a TV episode in 1979, she scored success with the hit comedy “Big” (1988), from which she nabbed a Children and Cinema Award - Special Mention at the 1988 Venice Film Festival and a Saturn nomination. The film is known for being the first film directed by a woman to gross over $100 million at the U.S. box office and for earning star Tom Hanks his first Oscar nomination. She also directed “Jumpin' Jack Flash” (1986), “Awakenings” (1990), “A League of Their Own” (1992, won a Hochi Film Award), “Renaissance Man” (1994), “A Preacher's Wife” (1996) and “Riding in Cars with Boys” (2001, received a Cabourg Romantic Film Festival Award) and produced the films “Getting Away with Murder” (1996), “With Friends Like These...” (1998, won a Munich Film Festival Award), “Cinderella Man” (2005) and “Bewitched” (2005). More recently, Marshall acted in several films, including “Stateside” (2004), “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World” (2005), “Everybody Wants to Be Italian” (2007) and “Blonde Ambition” (2007) and appeared in episodes of “Frasier” (2004) and “The Game” (2008).
Marshall was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 12, 2004, thanks to her contribution to motion pictures. She was previously handed a Crystal Award from the 1991 Women in Film Crystal Awards, the Career Award-Cinema from the 1992 Flaiano International Prizes and a Creative Achievement Award at the 1992 American Comedy Awards.
Marshall has been married twice. She was briefly married to her college sweetheart, Michael Henry, in the early 1960s and has one daughter with him, Tracy Reiner (born in 1964), who took her last name from her stepfather Rob Reiner. Marshall was married to Reiner from 1971 to 1981.
Sister of Garry Marshall
Childhood and Family:
Carole Penny Marshall was born on October 15, 1943, in The Bronx, New York, to Anthony W. Marshall (born in 1906, died in 1999), an industrial film director and television producer, and Marjorie Irene Marshall (died in 1983), a tap dance instructor who owned a dance school. Her father was of Italian origin and her mother was of English and Scottish lineage. Prior to her birth, her family changed their surname Marsciarielli to Marshall. Penny has one older brother named Garry Marshall (born in 1938), who is a producer, writer, director and actor and a sister named Ronny Hallin, who is a TV producer and actress.
A born entertainer, Penny discovered a love for performing at an early age and with some friends, started a dance group. The group appeared in the TV shows “The Ted Mack Amateur Hour” and “The Jackie Gleason Show.”
Penny graduated from Walton High School in New York City. She then enrolled in the University of New Mexico, where she majored in math and psychology but quit after two and a half years and married Michael Henry in 1961. The couple divorced in 1963 before Penny delivered their daughter Tracy, who was born in 1964. On April 10, 1971, she married actor/director Rob Reiner (born March 6, 1947) and her daughter adopted the last name of Reiner. The couple divorced almost ten years later.
Penny Marshall first appeared on television as a teenager when she and a group of friends danced on the “Ted Mack's Amateur Hour” and “The Jackie Gleason Show.” She then acted in summer stock productions in Colorado for a season in the mid 1960s and moved to Los Angeles in 1967 to join her older brother Garry Marshall. Following her move, Marshall, who once worked as a secretary to make ends meet, made her television acting debut in the drama anthology series “The Danny Thomas Hour” in 1967. She appeared on the big screen the following year when she landed bit parts in Richard Rush's “The Savage Seven” and Jerry Paris' “How Sweet It Is,” which was co-scripted and produced by Gerry. She was reunited with director Jerry Parris and her screenwriter and producer brother for the dramatic film “The Grasshopper” (169), which starred Jacqueline Bisset. During 1968 and 1969, she also appeared in episodes of “Then Came Bronson” and “That Girl.”
Marshall next played Maria Agnes on “Love and the Pick-Up,” which was broadcasted on the series “Love, American Style” on January 5, 1970, and had an unaccredited part in the comedy film “Where's Poppa,” which was directed by her future father-in-law Carl Reiner. She also guest starred in “Barefoot in the Park,” “Disneyland” (both 1970), “Getting Together” (1971), “The Super,” “The Bob Newhart Show” (both 1972) and “Banacek” (1973), but did not score her first recurring gig until she was cast as Myrna Turner, the secretary of Oscar Madison (played by Jack Klugman), on the ABC popular comedy show “The Odd Couple,” which was executive produced by her brother. She appeared in 19 episodes during 1972 to 1975. She also appeared as a regular in the short lived series “Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers” (1974-1975).
The actress was featured in several TV films in the early 1970s, including “The Feminist and the Fuzz” (1971), “Evil Roy Slade” (1972, co-written by Garry), “The Crooked Hearts” (1972) and “The Couple Takes a Wife” (1972). After the cancellation of “Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers,” she landed a supporting role in the ABC movie “Let's Switch” (1975, starred Barbara Eden), played Connie in “Wives” (1975), an unsold TV pilot created by her brother, and guest starred as Mary's neighbor on “Mary Tyler Moore” (2 episodes, 1975-1976) and as Anita in an episode of “Chico and the Man” (1975). It was also in 1975 that her brother hired Marshall and actress Cindy Williams to appear in an episode of Garry's popular TV sitcom “Happy Days” called “A Date with Fonzie,” where they played Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney, respectively. Garry then created the spin off show “Laverne & Shirley,” with the two actresses reprising their characters. The duo also appeared in five more episodes of “Happy Days.”
Debuting on ABC on January 27, 1976, “Laverne & Shirley” enjoyed strong ratings and become the most-watched television show by its second season. It ended on May 10, 1983, after having aired for eight seasons. For her portrayal of the tough-talking Laverne, Marshall received three consecutive Golden Globe nominations in the category of Best TV Actress - Musical/Comedy (1978-1980) and later a 2003 TV Land Award for Working Stiff of the Year, which she shared with costar Cindy Williams.
During the run of “Laverne & Shirley,” Marshall appeared in other series produced by her father, including “Blansky's Beauties” (1977) and “Mork & Mindy” (1978) and provided the voice of Laverne on the cartoon series “Laverne & Shirley in the Army” (1981), based on the TV show “Laverne & Shirley,” and “The Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour” (1982-1983). She also made a guest appearance in the series “Good Heavens” (1976), which starred Carl Reiner, costarred with her husband Rob Reiner, who also served as a co-writer, in the made for TV film “More Than Friends” (1978) and appeared as Miss Fitzroy in the Steven Spielberg movie “1941” (1979). She made her directing debut with an episode of the short lived sitcom “Working Stiffs” called “The Preview Presentation” (1979) and went on to direct several episodes of “Laverne & Shirley” during 1979 to 1981.
Following her show's demise, Marshall appeared in an episode of the sketch comedy show “The New Show” (1984), costarred with John Ritter in the ABC comedy film “Love Thy Neighbor” (1984), and starred as Nora Schoonover in another ABC TV film called “Challenge of a Lifetime” (1985). She returned to features in 1985 when she supported Walter Matthau and Charles Grodin in the comedy film “Movers & Shakers” for director William Asher. It was not long before Marshall decided to put her acting career on the back burner to pursue a career behind the camera as a director and producer.
Marshall made her feature directing debut in 1986 with the comedy “Jumpin' Jack Flash,” which starred Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen Collins, Carol Kane, John Wood, Annie Potts and Jonathan Pryce. It grossed nearly $30 million at the box office with an original budget of $18 million. Two years later, she replaced Steven Spielberg to direct Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia and John Heard in the comedy “Big,” which was written by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg. The film enjoyed critical acclaim and was a box office hit when it collected over $151 million worldwide against its budget of an estimated $18 million. Under her direction, Hanks earned an Oscar nomination in the category of Best Actor in a Leading Role, his first nomination at the prestigious gala, and a Golden Globe Award for his performance as Josh. Marshall picked up a Children and Cinema Award - Special Mention at the 1988 Venice Film Festival and a Saturn nomination for Best Director for her work in the film.
In 1990, Marshall returned to the director's chair to helm Robert De Niro, Robin Williams and John Heard in the dramatic film “Awakenings,” based on the 1973 memoir of the same name by Oliver Sacks. It was nominated for Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role (De Niro), Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, and a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama (Williams). “Awakenings” also marked Marshall's feature executive producing debut. In 1992, she executive produced and directed the movie “A League of Their Own” and was handed a Hochi Film for Best Foreign Film for her effort. The film starred Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna, Lori Petty, Rosie O'Donnell and also featured Garry Marshall as Walter Harvey. A TV series version of the film was made in 1993 with Garry reprising his role, but the show was soon canceled. The same year, Marshall also produced the dramatic film “Calendar Girl” for director John Whitesell.
Marshall resumed her acting career with the voice role of Ms. Botz in an episode of “The Simpsons” called “Some Enchanted Evening” (1990). She then took a supporting role in the Michael J. Fox and James Woods action comedy “The Hard Way” (1991) and an unaccredited part in Kenny Ortega's “Hocus Pocus” (1993), which starred Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker, before reprising her role of Myrna in the TV film sequel “The Odd Couple: Together Again” (1993).
In 1994, Marshall directed and executive produced “Renaissance Man,” starring Danny DeVito, Gregory Hines, James Remar and Ed Begley, Jr. The film garnered negative reviews from critics and was a box office flop. The same year, she also suffered what may have been a heart attack. The following year, she began appearing with Rosie O'Donnell in a string of television commercials for K-Mart. In 1996, she appeared in an episode of “Saturday Night Live,” produced the Harvey Miller comedy “Getting Away with Murder” and directed Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston in “The Preacher's Wife,” a remake of the 1947 film “The Bishop's Wife.” “The Preacher's Wife” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score and marked her last directing effort for five years.
During the reminder of the 1990s, Marshall executive produced the TV film “Heaven Will Wait” (1997) and produced the comedy film “With Friends Like These...” (1998), which was written and directed by Philip Frank Messina and starred Adam Arkin and David Strathairn. She co-won a High Hopes Award from the 1998 Munich Film Festival for the latter film. On the acting front, she guest starred in “Nash Bridges” (1998) and appeared in the indie film “Special Delivery” (1999).
In 2001, Marshall returned to the director's chair when she directed Drew Barrymore, Steve Zahn, Brittany Murphy, James Woods, Lorraine Bracco and Sara Gilbert in the dramatic comedy “Riding in Cars with Boys,” which was adapted from the autobiography of the same name by Beverly Donofrio. It won her a Golden Swann at the 2002 Cabourg Romantic Film Festival. She then lent her producing talents for the thriller movie “Risk” (2003), the documentary “Crossover” (2004, TV), the Ron Howard helmed biopic “Cinderella Man” (2005, stared Russell Crowe as Jim Braddock) and the Nora Ephron big screen adaptation of “Bewitched” (2005, starred Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell).
Marshall next portrayed Celeste in the 2004 episode “Frasier-Lite” of the hit series “Frasier,” appeared as Lieutenant Chevetone in the film “Stateside” (2004, starred Carrie Fisher and Rachael Leigh Cook), played Penny Marshall in the Albert Brooks comedy “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World” (2005) and guest starred in “Campus Ladies” (2006). In 2007, she landed roles in the films “Everybody Wants to Be Italian” (written and directed by Jason Todd Ipson), “Alice Upside Down” (with Alyson Stoner and Luke Perry) and “Blonde Ambition” (directed by her nephew Scott Marshall). She then guest starred as Rick Fox's mother on “The Game” (2008).
In 2009, Marshall directed the “According to Jim” episodes “The Yoga Bear” and “Physical Therapy.” In 2010, she directed the made for TV film “Women Without Men,” in which she also starred as Rosalie. She also directed an episode of “United States of Tara” titled “Explosive Diorama” (2010).
TV Land: Working Stiff of the Year, “Laverne & Shirley,” 2003
Cabourg Romantic Film Festival: Golden Swann, “Riding in Cars with Boys,” 2002
Munich Film Festival: High Hopes Award, “With Friends Like These...,” 1998
American Comedy: Creative Achievement Award, 1992
Flaiano International Prizes: Career Award, Cinema, 1992
Hochi Film: Best Foreign Film, “A League of Their Own,” 1992
Women in Film Crystal: Crystal Award, 1991
Venice Film Festival: Children and Cinema Award - Special Mention, “Big,” 1988