When the death of Penny Marshall was announced on the 17th of December 2018, many, especially adults who lived through the ’80s would have cast their minds back to her work as Laverne on the hit sitcom, Laverne & Shirley. It was one of the biggest and most successful projects of her 48-year long career, in which she made several other achievements, including directorial achievements such as the nominations of films like The Preacher’s Wife and Renaissance Man for Academy Awards Best Picture.
Before her death, she was set to go down in history as one of Hollywood’s great film icons and at her death, that position was solidified. Learn more about Penny Marshall and her career by reading below.
Who is Penny Marshall?
If you are going to leave a legacy in performance art, you might as well be born in one of its top cities. Carole Penny Marshall was a Bronx girl, born in the city on the 15th of October 15, 1943. She was born to parents who were deeply involved with performance art themselves. Her mother, Marjorie Irene ran a tap-dancing school while her father was a film director, a profession she would later engage in. She was raised along with two siblings, Garry Marshall, and Ronny Hallin.
As the daughter of a tap-dancing teacher, she began learning the dance herself at the age of three. She learned and grew up with the knowledge and expertise that she later taught it in her mother’s school, Marjorie Marshall Dance School. While she earned money through dancing and teaching, she attended Walton High School, later attending University of New Mexico post-high school to study Math and Psychology.
A degree was not the only thing she got from New Mexico, she also got pregnant which made her marry her then-boyfriend, Michael Henry. She gave birth to a daughter, Tracy Reiner, but the marriage ended three years after in 1966 and Penny Marshall moved to Los Angeles to kick start what would be a great acting and all-around film career.
Through her brother, Penny got her breakthrough in Hollywood. Her brother helped her secure roles on films like The Savage Seven and The Odd Couple. The Odd Couple was one of the two major television shows she starred in during her career, playing Myrna, a secretary on the show for four years.
She got her biggest television role yet as Laverne in Laverne & Shirley after she had impressed studio executives in a guest appearance as the character on another show, Happy Days. With the writing talents of her brother, a spin-off show was created off the reception of the Laverne & Shirley characters and the show was on air for eight seasons, earning Penny Marshall several award nominations including three Golden Globe nominations.
Penny Marshall was known primarily as a television actress but she also starred in a number of movies during her career such as 1941, The Hard Way and a few others. It was as a director, however, that she made her impact in film. After making her directorial debut on Laverne & Shirley, directing four episodes at the advice of her brother, she made her film debut as a director on Jumpin’ Jack Flash in 1986. She ended up directing a few more films, including Big in 1988 and Awakenings in 1990.
She was also the director of The Preacher’s Wife which featured late singer and actress, Whitney Houston. Part of her directorial achievements, outside the academy award nominations of some of her films for Best Picture, included being the first woman to direct a film that grossed over $100 million.
Penny’s achievements in the profession were recognized by different bodies. She won awards such as the Women in Film Crystal Award, a Hollywood Walk of Fame star, Elle Women in Hollywood Awards among a few others.
After the end of her marriage to Michael Henry, Penny remarried to Rob Reiner in 1971 and was married to him until 1981.
Was She Related To Garry Marshall?
Penny Marshall grew up with two siblings, one of them was Garry Marshall, who is a notable writer and producer in the film industry. It is true that Penny went on to make a name for herself in the movie industry but it was through the help of her supportive brother, who cast her in various roles in his projects during the early days of her career, including her biggest acting role, Laverne & Shirley.
Cause of Death – How Did Penny Marshall Die?
Penny Marshall lived until she was 75 years of age, having survived a major health issue like lung cancer. Her body, however, gave way on the 17th of December 2018 through heart failure which had been caused by cardiovascular disease and diabetes. She was mourned by all, majorly by her co-workers and her fans.