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Penny Marshall

Marshall with Ed Begley, Jr. at the 1988 Emmy Awards
Born Carole Penny Marshall
October 15, 1943 (1943-10-15) (age 66)
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
Occupation Film actress, Director, Producer
Years active 1968-present
Spouse(s) Michael Henry (1961-1963)
Rob Reiner (1971-1981)

Penny Marshall (born October 15, 1943) is an American actress, producer and director.

After playing several small roles for television, she was cast as Laverne DeFazio in the sitcom Laverne and Shirley. A ratings success, the show ran from 1976 until 1983, and Marshall received three Golden Globe award nominations for her performance.[1]

She progressed to directing films such as Big (1988), the first film directed by a woman to gross in excess of $100 million at the U.S. box office, Awakenings (1990), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, and A League of Their Own (1992). In more recent years, she has produced Cinderella Man (2005) and Bewitched (2005), as well as episodes of According to Jim (2009).


Early life

Marshall was born Carole Penny Marshall in The Bronx, New York City, the daughter of Marjorie Irene (née Ward), a tap dance teacher who ran a dance school, and Anthony Wallace Marshall, a director of industrial films and later a producer.[2] She is the sister of actor/director/TV producer Garry Marshall[3] and Ronny Hallin,[4] a TV producer. Her father was of Italian descent, his family having come from Abruzzo,[5] and her mother was of English and Scottish descent;[6][7] her father changed his last name from "Marsciarelli" to "Marshall" before Penny was born.[8] In the 1950s, she grew up in an apartment on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx on a block that also spawned Neil Simon, Paddy Chayefsky, Calvin Klein, and Ralph Lauren.[9] She is a graduate of Walton High School in New York City and attended the University of New Mexico. In 1967,[10] she moved to Los Angeles to join her older brother Garry Marshall, a writer whose credits at the time included TV's The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–1966).


One of her first jobs was for a TV commercial for a beautifying shampoo. She was hired to play a girl with stringy, unattractive hair, and Farrah Fawcett was hired to play a girl with thick, bouncy hair. As the crew was lighting the set, Marshall's stand-in wore a placard that read "Homely Girl" and Fawcett's stand-in wore a placard that said "Pretty Girl". Farrah Fawcett, sensing Marshall's insecurity about her looks, crossed out "Homely" on the Marshall stand-in placard and wrote "Plain".[11]

Marshall first gained prominence as a television actress with a recurring guest role of Myrna Turner on The Odd Couple (1971–1975), and made two guest star appearances on The Mary Tyler Moore Show as Paula Kovacks, Mary's neighbor in her new apartment building. In Marshall's final episode as Myrna Turner she married her boyfriend, Sheldn ("They forgot the 'o' on his birth certificate; legally, it's 'Sheldn'"), played by her then-real-life husband, Rob Reiner, and briefly introduced her brother and sister, Werner Turner and Verna Turner (played by, respectively, Marshall's brother, Garry, and her sister, Ronny).

In 1974, her brother Garry Marshall was the creator and part-time writer for the hit TV series Happy Days with Ron Howard and Henry Winkler. For an episode that aired November 11, 1975 titled "A Date with Fonzie",[12] he hired Marshall and actress Cindy Williams to play dates for Howard's and Winkler's characters, LaVerne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney, a pair of wise-cracking brewery workers. The pair were a hit with the studio audience and Garry Marshall co-created and starred them in a hit spin-off, Laverne and Shirley (1976–1983).[13] The characters of Laverne and Shirley also appeared in five more episodes of Happy Days. In 1983, while still filming Laverne and Shirley, she guest-starred on another popular sitcom, Taxi, in a cameo appearance as herself. In the Taxi episode "Louie Moves Uptown",[14] Marshall is turned down for residency in a new high-rise condo in New York City. The Laverne and Shirley episode "Lost in Spacesuits"[15] is referenced in the scene.

Because male actors such as co-star Ron Howard and husband Rob Reiner later became directors, and at the encouragement of her brother, Marshall became interested in directing. She directed two episodes of Laverne and Shirley[16] and other TV assignments. She soon moved on to theatrical films, her first film being Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986) starring Whoopi Goldberg. Marshall has directed several successful feature films since the mid-1980s, including 1988's Big starring Tom Hanks (the first film directed by a woman to gross over US$100 million), Awakenings (1990) starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, and A League of Their Own (1992) with Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell. She has also lent her voice to Ms. Botz, the evil nanny, on the first produced episode of The Simpsons, and played a cameo role as herself in HBO's series Entourage.

Personal life

While attending the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, Marshall met Michael Henry, a football player. She quit college after three years, married him in 1961, and they had a daughter, Tracy, who later guest-starred on Laverne & Shirley opposite Marshall. Marshall worked as a secretary and later as a tap dance teacher. The marriage lasted two years.[10] On April 10, 1971,[17] Marshall married actor/director Rob Reiner, and her daughter took the name of Tracy Reiner.[18] The marriage would last until 1981. Marshall is an avid collector of sports memorabilia and a season ticket holder for the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers. She is also a diehard fan of the New York Yankees and the Boston Celtics.


As actress


As director, theatrical films


External links

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