Penny Marshall, actress, and director of film and television, has passed away following an illness.
Marshall launched her television career in the 1960s with appearances on variety and comedy shows like “How Sweet It Is!” She went on to guest on other shows including “That Girl,” and “The Bob Newhart Show” before landing a regular role on “The Odd Couple.”
She became a full-fledged television star in 1975 when she and Cindy Williams were guest stars on an episode of “Happy Days” as Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney. The next season, “Laverne and Shirley” debuted and began an eight-episode run. Marshall directed four episodes of the show.
After “Laverne and Shirley” ended, Marshall returned to guest starring roles. But in 1986, she turned her focus to directing for the big screen. Her first feature was “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” a comedy/thriller starring Whoopi Goldberg. While not well received, the film led to additional projects.
In 1988, her film “Big” became the highest grossing film ever for a female director. It also earned two Academy Award nominations, though not for Marshall. She would go on to direct five additional films. In 1990, “Awakenings” became only the second film from a female director ever nominated for Best Picture. Marshall, herself was not nominated. Two years later, she directed her best film, “A League of Their Own.”
All told, Penny Marshall directed seven films, four of which were nominated for Academy Awards. While she never received the recognition she deserved, her work opened doors for women in the industry, in front of and behind the camera.
Her final film, a documentary about ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman, is in post-production and slated for release in 2019.
Penny Marshall is survived by her daughter Tracy Reiner.