Hollywood and fans everywhere mourn the passing of 75-year-old actress and director Penny Marshall while at her Hollywood Hills home during the evening of December 17. Ex-husband, Rob Reiner took to Twitter to express his sadness late last night.
For over five decades Penny built up a presence in Hollywood with both acting and behind the scenes work, as she was director of ‘Big,’ ‘Riding in Cars with Boys,’ and ‘A League of Their Own.’ In front of the cameras, Penny played lead roles in ‘Mork & Mindy,’ ‘The Odd Couple,’ and ‘ Laverne & Shirley.’
When Penny was 27 years old, she married the 23-year-old Rob Reiner in 1971, before fame knocked on either’s door. Rob adopted Penny’s daughter, Tracy, whom Penny had with previous husband, Michael Henry.
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The world can be small, but somehow Rob and Penny grew up in the same street in the Bronx and never met. To this Penny commented, “It was a very wide street.” Rob and Penny remained married until their divorce in 1981.
Shortly after the news of Penny’s passing broke to the public Rob tweeted that he is “so sad about Penny,” another tweet followed shortly after wherein the 71-year-old Rob wrote:
“I loved Penny. 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.”
The couple met during Penny’s 1971 appearance on ‘The Odd Couple,’ and worked together again on ‘More Than Friends’ in 1978.
But perhaps Penny is most known for her role as Laverne DeFazio opposite Shirley Feeney, played by Cindy Williams, on her brother, Garry Marshall’s series, ‘Happy Days.’
Laverne and Shirley got introduced as characters on the show during the November 11, 1975 episode titled, ‘A Date with Fonzie.’ The two women showed up as potential dates for Fonzie (Henry Winkler) and Richie (Ron Howard).
The characters, Laverne and Shirley, was such a hit that Garry Marshall decided to give them their own show by the same name. The series showcased Penny’s incredible comedic talent and opened up many doors for her, including her behind the scenes work in directing.
Many years later in 2012 Penny published her autobiography, ‘My Mother Was Nuts.’ In her book, Penny spoke about the trials and tribulations she faced in her life.
Her battle with brain and lung cancer in 2009 followed by her remission and recovery saw for some dark but also some grateful days.
While her struggles with alcohol and drug abuse were more painful to recover from, and a battle she shared with her best friend, Carrie Fisher.
Penny is survived by her daughter and actress, 54-year-old Tracy Reiner, and five grandchildren.