Penny Marshall, the “Laverne & Shirley” star and record-breaking Movie Director, passed away at the age of 75 due to complications from Diabetes in her home in the Hollywood Hills, CA.
She made her film debut in “The Savage Seven,” which was a 1968 biker-gang drama film. Penny also had a small part in “How Sweet It Is!,” a romantic comedy starring Debbie Reynolds and James Garner.
Penny continued acting, mostly playing guest roles on television series, until she got her big break in 1971, when she was cast in the recurring part of Jack Klugman’s gloomy secretary, Myrna Turner, on the ABC hit sitcom “The Odd Couple.” Her brother, a producer on the show (Garry Marshall) got her the gig. Penny, known for her signature whining and poker-faced humor won audiences over.
That same year she married Rob Reiner, who was then a star of the hit series “All in the Family.” He adopted her daughter, but they later divorced in 1979, right when “Laverne & Shirley” and Penny were at the very height of their television popularity. “Laverne & Shirley” ended in 1983.
Penny then got into making films. Her friend Whoopi Goldberg gave her an opportunity to take over as Director on her film, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” in 1986. Note that Whoopi wasn’t crazy about the original director of the film, so Penny was a Win-Win for all parties.
This opportunity led Penny to her most notable and highest grossing film, “Big” in 1988. “Big” earned almost $115 Million. Penny was the first female to Direct a movie that grossed over $100 Million.
Penny is survived by her older sister, Ronny; a daughter, the actress Tracy Reiner; and three grandchildren.