Penny Marshall Photo: Alan Light
Penny Marshall, director of Big and A League Of Their Own and much-loved star of the sitcom Laverne & Shirley, has died at the age of 75, it was revealed today.
Making her directorial début in 1986 with Jumpin' Jack Flash , Marshall carved out a career in a world where female directors were still very much a rarity. She was the first woman ever to direct a film that earned over $100M at the box office. Her 1990 hit Awakenings, which starred Robert De Niro and Robin Williams, was a Best Picture Oscar nominee. Her final film, the documentary Rodman, is due for release next year.
"You need to see what the actor needs. This one wants to be talked to privately. That one doesn't mind if you block it for them. Just tell me the truth and I'll adapt to it," she said, talking about her directing style.
As an actress, Marshall extended her talents beyond the small screen to appear in the likes of The Hard Way, Hocus Pocus and High Fidelity. Her television work included Mork & Mindy, Frasier and The Simpsons. Her charismatic style of comedy made her a hit with audiences and won her legions of fans.
Marshall died peacefully at home on Monday night, from complications of diabetes. She had previously survived cancer that affected her lungs and brain. She is survived by a daughter - the actress Tracy Reiner - and five grandchildren.
"I loved Penny," said her former husband, Rob Reiner. "I grew up with her. She was born with a great gift. She was born with a funnybone and the instinct of how to use it. I was very lucky to have lived with her and her funnybone. I will miss her."
"Sad to hear of Penny Marshall’s passing. a great comedienne a terrific director and a dear friend," said Billy Crystal.