Rest In Power: Director Penny Marshall Passes at 75

The Director and actress who brought laughter to millions passed in her Hollywood Hills home. 


Penny Marshall was one of the last remaining practitioners of 70s style sitcom noir like Happy Days spin-off Laverne & Shirley, and even carried her version of Americana on to such classic hits as “Jumping Jack Flash,” her directorial debut which starred Whoopi Goldberg, “A League of Their Own”, “Big”, starring Tom Hanks, but she first appeared as the tough-minded Laverne DeFazio on Laverne and Shirley around 1976.

With her second film, “Big,” starring Tom Hanks, Marshall became the first woman to direct a movie that grossed more than $100 million. Penny Marshall died at her home in Hollywood Hills, California due to complications from diabetes.

Marshall survived by her older sister, Ronny, daughter, actress Tracy Reiner, and three grandchildren.

“We hope her life continues to inspire others to spend time with family, work hard and make all of their dreams come true,” her family said.

The “make all of their dreams come true” is a clear shoutout to the Laverne and Shirley theme song that many of us who grew up in the era can readily recite.

Born Carole Penny Marshall in the Bronx, NY on October 15, 1943, to Marjorie Irene, who ran the Marjorie Marshall Dance School, and Anthony “Tony” Masciarelli she started out at three-years-old, and later taught tap at her mother’s dance school. Mr. Masciarelli changed his name to Marshall before Penny was born.

Penny Marshall, and her brother Garry, were born to be in show business, with a mother who was a tap dance instructor and a father who directed films, and a sister who was a casting director and a producer, her casting on Laverne and Shirley, and subsequent Golden Globe Award for Best Actress- Television Series noms for that role, was but a confirmation of that fact.

Her directorial catalog is significant as well and includes Awakenings, which was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, Renaissance Man, The Preacher’s Wife and the critically-acclaimed Riding in Cars with Boys. Throughout her career, Penny Marshall depicted women as being intelligent, funny, and industrious problem solvers, albeit comically in many instances, when others struggled with the concept.

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