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Penny Marshall, who is remembered as Laverne DeFazio on ABC 1977-83 sitcom “Laverne & Shirley,” not to mention her theatrical directorial accomplishments, passed away at her home in Hollywood Hills on Monday due to complications from diabetes. She was 75.
“Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall,” the Marshall family said in a statement. Marshall, whose real name was Carole Marshall, was born in the Bronx on October 15, 1943. Her brother was famed producer and director Garry Marshall, who directed a string of hit movies including “Pretty Woman” and “The Princess Diaries” and died in 2016.
Marshall made her TV debut in 1967 on NBC’s “The Danny Thomas Hour ” and had her first regularly scheduled sitcom role on “The Odd Couple” as Oscar’s (Jack Klugman) secretary Myrna in 1974. Prior to “Laverne & Shirley,” which like “The Odd Couple” was created by her brother Garry, Marshall co-starred on CBS 1974-75 sitcom “Paula Sand in Friends and Lovers.” She was also in contention to join “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (after Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman exited), and ultimately appeared in two episodes.
Both Marshall and her ex-husband, Rob Reiner, had the distinction of appearing in television’s top-rated sitcom (Reiner in “All in the Family”), and both morphed into successful directorial roles.
Behind the scenes she directed such theatrical hits like Tom Hanks in “Big” in 1988,” 1992 comedy “A League of Their Own” (also with Tom Hanks), Robin Williams drama “Awakenings” in 1990, and “Riding in Cars with Boys” in 2001.
Marshall is survived by her older sister Ronny, daughter Tracy Reiner, and grandchildren Spencer, Bella and Viva.