Penny Marshall, Laverne & Shirley star and iconic director, dead at 75

Laverne and ShirleyThere is some extremely sad news to report on today when it comes to Penny Marshall. The iconic entertainer is dead at the age of 75.

According to a report from TMZ, Marshall died on Monday night from complications of diabetes. She is best known by many as a television actress, who played Laverne DeFazio in the Happy Days spin-off turned super-hit Laverne & Shirley on ABC. That series ran for over 170 episodes and Marshall also played the part on both Happy Days and then also Mork & Mindy. She also appeared in such great programs as The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and Saturday Night Live during the earlier phase of its run. Her last television credit was in an episode of The Odd Couple revival over at CBS.

Beyond her work in TV, Marshall also become known as a pioneer female director. She was the first woman to direct a movie (in Big) to gross more than $100 million at the North American box office. She also directed another classic in A League of Their Own amidst Renaissance Man and a number of other film projects. She also directed a handful of television episodes and served as a producer. She did her career her own way, which is a nod in some ways to the classic Laverne & Shirley theme song, which you can watch below for posterity.

In a statement via the aforementioned website, Marshall’s family had the following to say:

“Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall.  Penny was a tomboy who loved sports, doing puzzles of any kind, drinking milk and Pepsi together and being with her family.”

We would expect a massive outpouring of tributes to come in for Marshall over the next couple of days, as we’re not sure that she received anywhere near enough credit for some of her accomplishments over the course of her life. This is someone who not only shined bright on a scripted comedy show, but then took those talents into other fields both in terms of TV and film. She made the world a little bit funnier, and also helped to usher in more representation for women on all sides of production. Hopefully, she gets her proper due in the new year, both in terms of the Emmys and also the Academy Awards.

Our thoughts go out to Marshall’s family and loved ones in what is a very difficult time. (Photo: ABC.)

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