Carole Penny Marshall (October 15, 1943 – December 17, 2018) was an American actress, director and producer. She came to notice in the 1970s for her role as Laverne DeFazio on the television sitcom Laverne & Shirley (1976–1983), receiving three nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy for her portrayal.
Publicity photo for Laverne & Shirley, 1976
Carole Penny Marshall
October 15, 1943
The Bronx, New York, U.S.
|Died||December 17, 2018 (aged 75)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of New Mexico|
|Occupation||Actress, director, producer|
(m. 1963; div. 1966)
(m. 1971; div. 1981)
|Relatives||Garry Marshall (brother)|
Scott Marshall (nephew)
Marshall made her directorial debut with Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986) before directing Big (1988), which became the first film directed by a woman to gross more than $100 million at the U.S. box office. Her subsequent directing credits included Awakenings (1990), which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, A League of Their Own (1992), Renaissance Man (1994), The Preacher's Wife (1996) and Riding in Cars with Boys (2001). She also produced Cinderella Man (2005) and Bewitched (2005), and directed episodes of the TV series According to Jim and United States of Tara.
Carole Penny Marshall was born in the Bronx, New York City, New York, on October 15, 1943, to Marjorie Irene (née Ward; 1908–1983), a tap dance teacher who ran the Marjorie Marshall Dance School, and Anthony "Tony" Masciarelli (1906–1999), later Anthony Wallace Marshall, a director of industrial films and later a producer. She was the sister of actor/director/TV producer Garry Marshall and Ronny Hallin, a television producer. Her birth name, Carole, was selected because her mother's favorite actress was Carole Lombard. Her middle name was selected because her older sister Ronny, wanting a horse in the Bronx, was saving her pennies; her mother chose the middle name in an attempt to console her.
Her father was of Italian descent, his family having come from Abruzzo, and her mother was of German, English, and Scottish descent; Marshall's father changed his last name from Masciarelli to Marshall before she was born. Religion played no role in the Marshall children's lives. Garry Marshall was christened Episcopalian, Ronny was Lutheran, and Marshall was confirmed in a Congregational Church, because "[Mother] sent us anyplace that had a hall where she could put on a recital. If she hadn't needed performance space, we wouldn't have bothered."
She grew up at 3235 Grand Concourse, the Bronx, in a building which was also the childhood home of Neil Simon, Paddy Chayefsky, Calvin Klein, and Ralph Lauren. She began her career as a tap dancer at age three, and later taught tap at her mother's dance school. She graduated from Walton High School, a public girls' high school in New York and then went to University of New Mexico for 21⁄2 years where she studied math and psychology. While at UNM, Marshall became pregnant with daughter, Tracy Reiner (née Tracy Henry), and soon after married the father, Michael Henry, in 1963. The couple divorced three years later in 1966. During this period, Marshall worked various jobs to support herself, including working as a choreographer for the Albuquerque Civic Light Opera Association. In 1967, she moved to Los Angeles to join her older brother Garry, a writer whose credits at the time included TV's The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–1966).
Marshall first appeared on a television commercial for Head and Shoulders 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". Fawcett, sensing Marshall's insecurity about her looks, crossed out "Homely" on the Marshall stand-in placard and wrote "Plain". Marshall and Billie Hayes were the only actresses to audition for the role of Witchiepoo for H.R. Pufnstuf, produced by Sid and Marty Krofft. Marshall thought that she was not right for the part, and Hayes got the role.
In 1968 Marshall accepted an offer from her brother to appear in a movie he had written and was producing, called How Sweet It Is (1968). She landed another small role in the film The Savage Seven (1968), as well as a guest appearance on the hit television series That Girl, starring Marlo Thomas. Marshall was considered for the role of Gloria Bunker Stivic on All in the Family, but lost the part to Sally Struthers.
In 1970, Garry Marshall became the executive producer of the television series The Odd Couple. The following year, Marshall was added to the permanent cast to play a secretary, Myrna, and held the role for four years. In Marshall's final appearance on The Odd Couple, her character married her boyfriend, Sheldn ("they left the "o" off the birth certificate", she explains), played by Rob Reiner, her real-life husband. The episode included Marshall's real-life siblings, Garry and Ronny, as Myrna's brother and sister.
While she was on The Odd Couple, Marshall played small roles in TV movies such as Evil Roy Slade (1972), starring Mickey Rooney (and produced by brother Garry); The Crooked Hearts (1972) starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr., in which she played a waitress; The Couple Takes a Wife, starring Bill Bixby; and Wacky Zoo of Morgan City (1972). In 1974, James L. Brooks and Allan Burns cast Marshall as Janice Dreyfuss, sister-in-law to Paul Dreyfuss (played by actor Paul Sand) in the series Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers. It aired on CBS-TV Saturday nights beginning September 14, 1974. Despite good reviews and decent ratings, it was canceled mid-season. Brooks and Burns, along with studio head Grant Tinker, were so impressed with Marshall's comedic talent that the following season, they hired Marshall and actress Mary Kay Place to play Mary Richards' new neighbors (Paula and Sally Jo) on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Garry Marshall, creator and then part-time writer for Happy Days, cast Marshall and Cindy Williams to guest on an episode of the show. The installment, titled "A Date with Fonzie", aired on November 11, 1975 and introduced the characters Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney (played by Marshall and Williams, respectively). In that episode, Laverne and Shirley were a pair of wisecracking brewery workers who were dates for Fonzie (Henry Winkler) and Richie (Ron Howard). The pair were such a hit with the studio audience that Garry Marshall decided to co-create and star them in a successful spinoff, Laverne & Shirley (1976–1983). The characters of Laverne and Shirley appeared in five more episodes of Happy Days. In 1982 at the beginning of Laverne & Shirley's eighth season, Williams left the show due to her pregnancy. Marshall continued with the show, but it was canceled after the season's final episode aired in May 1983.
In 1983, while still filming Laverne & Shirley, Marshall guest starred on Taxi in a cameo appearance as herself. In the Taxi episode "Louie Moves Uptown," Marshall is turned down for residency in a new high-rise condo in Manhattan. The Laverne & Shirley episode "Lost in Spacesuits" is referenced in the scene.
Marshall lent her voice to Ms. Botz, a.k.a. Ms. Botzcowski, the "babysitter bandit," on the first produced episode of The Simpsons, making her the first official guest star to appear on the show, and played a cameo role as herself on the HBO series Entourage. She also made a cameo appearance alongside her brother Garry in the Disney Halloween-themed movie Hocus Pocus as husband and wife. She was reunited with her Laverne & Shirley co-star, Cindy Williams, on a November 2013 episode of Sam & Cat.
At the encouragement of her brother, Marshall became interested in directing. While starring on Laverne and Shirley, she made her debut as a director and directed four episodes of that show as well as other TV assignments. In 1979, she directed several episodes of the short-lived sitcom Working Stiffs, starring Michael Keaton and James Belushi. She soon moved on to theatrical films, her first film being Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986) starring Whoopi Goldberg. She got this gig when the original director dropped out. She also gave her daughter Tracy and her brother Garry roles in the film.
Marshall directed several successful feature films from the mid-1980s onwards, including Big (1988) 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, A League of Their Own (1992) with Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell, and The Preacher's Wife (1996) starring Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston. In 1991, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award.
In 2010–2011, Marshall directed two episodes of the Showtime series United States of Tara. In 2013, Women in Film and Video presented her with the Women of Vision Award. In 2014, Marshall announced she was developing a biopic on Effa Manley entitled Effa.
Marshall had an abortion after getting pregnant in 1963. In 2010, it was reported that Marshall had been diagnosed with lung cancer that had metastasized to her brain, but two years later she was 'fine now'. Following her recovery she published a memoir, My Mother Was Nuts.
Marshall died in Los Angeles on December 17, 2018, at the age of 75. According to her death certificate, the causes were cardiopulmonary failure, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus type 1.
Following Marshall's death, her ex-husband Rob Reiner took to Twitter to say: "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". Broadcaster Dan Rather tweeted: "Mourning the loss of a funny, poignant, and original American voice. Penny Marshall was a pioneer in television and the big screen who understood humor comes in many forms and some of life's deeper truths require a laugh. She will be missed."
Ron Howard, her onetime co-star, and like her an actor who went on to become a celebrated film director, stated on Twitter: "She was funny & so smart. She made the transition from sitcom star to A List movie director with ease & had a major impact on both mediums. All that & always relaxed, funny & totally unpretentious. I was lucky to have known & worked with her."
The day after Marshall's death, Laverne & Shirley co-star Cindy Williams shared a message on Twitter, simply stating: “I Love You, Partner.” Underneath the one line of text was the image of a familiar, cursive 'L' initial. During the series' run, Marshall had the wardrobe department sew the 'L' on most of her character Laverne's blouses and sweaters.
|1968||The Savage Seven||Tina|||
|1968||How Sweet It Is!||Tour Girl|||
|1970||The Grasshopper||Plaster Caster|||
|1970||Where's Poppa?||Courtroom Spectator||Uncredited role|
|1975||How Come Nobody's on Our Side?||Theresa||aka Capers|
|1979||1941||Miss Fitzroy||Uncredited role|
|1985||Movers & Shakers||Reva||Cameo|
|1991||The Hard Way||Angie|||
|1993||Hocus Pocus||The Master's Wife||Uncredited role|
|1998||The Emperor's New Clothes: An All-Star Illustrated Retelling of the Classic Fairy Tale||The Imperial Lady-in-Waiting #2||Voice|
|2000||High Fidelity||Funeral Attendee||Uncredited role|
|2004||Stateside||Lt. Chevetone||Uncredited role|
|2005||Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World||Herself||Cameo|
|2007||Everybody Wants to Be Italian||Teresa the Florist|||
|2007||Alice Upside Down||Mrs. Plotkin||Direct-to-video film|
|2007||Blonde Ambition||Bolo Executive|||
|2011||New Year's Eve||Herself – Ahern Party|
|2014||Going to America||Herself – Famous Director|
|2015||Scooby-Doo! and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery||The Elder (voice)||Direct-to-video film|
|1986||Jumpin' Jack Flash|||
|1990||Awakenings||Also executive producer|
|1992||A League of Their Own||Also executive producer|
|1994||Renaissance Man||Also executive producer|
|1996||The Preacher's Wife|||
|2001||Riding in Cars with Boys|||
|1993||Calendar Girl||Executive producer|
|1996||Getting Away with Murder||Producer|
|1998||With Friends Like These...||Producer|
|1968–1969||That Girl||Assistant Librarian / Joan||Episodes: "Secret Ballot", "Fix My Screen & Bug Out"|
|1969||My Friend Tony||Janet||Episode: "Computer Murder"|
|1969||Then Came Bronson||Claire||Episode: "The Runner"|
|1970||Love, American Style||Mary Agnes||Episode: "Love and the Pick-Up" segment|
|1970||Barefoot in the Park||Episode: "In Sickness and in Health"|
|1970||The Wonderful World of Disney||Mayor's Secretary||Episodes: "The Wacky Zoo of Morgan City" (Parts 1 & 2)|
|1971||The Feminist and the Fuzz||Liberation Lady||Television film|
|1971||Getting Together||Mona||Episode: "Those Oldies But Goodies Remind Me of You"|
|1972–1974||The Odd Couple||Myrna Turner||27 episodes|
|1972||Evil Roy Slade||Bank Teller||Television film|
|1972||The Super||Janice||Episode: "The Matchmaker"|
|1972||The Bob Newhart Show||Stewardess||Episode: "Fly the Unfriendly Skies"|
|1972||The Crooked Hearts||Waitress||Television film|
|1972||The Couple Takes a Wife||Paula||Television film|
|1973||Banacek||Receptionist||Episode: "The Greatest Collection of Them All"|
|1974–1975||Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers||Janice Dreyfuss||14 episodes|
|1974–1976||The Mary Tyler Moore Show||Toni / Paula Kovacs||Episodes: "I Was a Single for WJM", "Murray in Love", "Menage-a-Lou"|
|1975||Let's Switch!||Alice Wright||Television film|
|1975||Chico and the Man||Anita Cappuccino||Episode: "Chico and the Van"|
|1975||Saturday Night Live||Herself||Episode: "Rob Reiner"|
|1975–1979||Happy Days||Laverne DeFazio||5 episodes|
|1976||Good Heavens||Episode: "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"|
|1976–1983||Laverne & Shirley||Laverne DeFazio||178 episodes|
|1977||Saturday Night Live||Herself||Episode: "Live from Mardi Gras"|
|1977||Blansky's Beauties||Laverne DeFazio||Episode: "Nancy Remembers Laverne"|
|1978||Mork & Mindy||Laverne DeFazio||Episode: "Pilot"|
|1978||More Than Friends||Matty Perlman||Television film|
|1979||Carol Burnett & Company||Herself||Episode #1.3|
|1981||Laverne & Shirley in the Army||Laverne DeFazio (voice)||13 episodes|
|1982||Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour||Laverne DeFazio (voice)||8 episodes (Laverne & Shirley with the Fonz segment)|
|1983||Taxi||Herself||Episode: "Louie Moves Uptown"|
|1984||The New Show||Various Characters||Episode #1.4|
|1984||Love Thy Neighbor||Linda Wilson||Television film|
|1985||Challenge of a Lifetime||Nora Schoonover||Television film|
|1990||The Simpsons||Ms. Botz (voice)||Episode: "Some Enchanted Evening"|
|1993||The Odd Couple: Together Again||Myrna||Television film|
|1996||Saturday Night Live||Various Characters||Episode: "Rosie O'Donnell/Whitney Houston"|
|1998||Tracey Takes On...||Herself||Episode: "Hollywood"|
|1998||Nash Bridges||Iris Heller||Episode: "Skin Deep"|
|2004||Frasier||Celeste (voice)||Episode: "Frasier-Liste"|
|2006||Campus Ladies||Episode: "Webcam"|
|2006||Bones||Herself||Episode: "The Woman at the Airport"|
|2008||The Game||Doris Fox||Episode: "A Delectable Basket of Treats"|
|2012||The Life & Times of Tim||PR Executive (voice)||Episode: "The Smug Chiropractor/Corporate Disaster"|
|2012||Portlandia||Barbara||Episode: "Feminist Book Store 10th Anniversary"|
|2013||Sam & Cat||Sylvia Burke||Episode: "#SalmonCat"|
|2014||Mulaney||Tutti||Episode: "Sweet Jane"|
|2016||The Odd Couple||Patty Dombrowski||Episode: "Taffy Days"|
|1979||Working Stiffs||1 episode: "The Preview Presentation"|
|1979–1981||Laverne & Shirley||4 episodes: "Squiggy in Love", "The Duke of Squigman", "The Dating Game", "But Seriously, Folks"|
|1987||The Tracey Ullman Show||1 episode|
|1993||A League of Their Own||1 episode: "Dottie's Back"|
|2009||According to Jim||2 episodes: "The Yoga Bear", "Physical Therapy"|
|2010–2011||United States of Tara||2 episodes: "Explosive Diorama", "Wheels"|
- 1979: Golden Globe Nominee—Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series—Musical or Comedy
- 1978: Golden Globe Nominee—Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series—Musical or Comedy
- 1980: Golden Globe Nominee—Best Actress in a Television Series—Comedy or Musical Laverne & Shirley
- 1988: Venice Film Festival Winner—Children and Cinema Award—Special Mention for Big (1988)
- 1990: Saturn Award Nominee—Best Director for film Big (1988) (Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films USA)
- 1992: American Comedy Awards Winner—Lifetime Creative Achievement Award
- 1992: Hochi Film Awards Winner—Best Foreign Film for A League of Their Own
- 1994: New York Women in Film and Television Winner of Muse Award
- 1995: Flaiano International Prizes Winner—Career Award in Cinema
- 1997: Elle Women in Hollywood Awards Winner—Icon Award (shared with Meryl Streep, Jane Campion, and Laura Ziskin)
- 1998: Munich Film Festival Winner of High Hopes Award for With Friends Like These...
- 2000: Online Film & Television Association Winner—OFTA TV Hall of Fame
- 2002: Cabourg Romantic Film Festival—Golden Swann Winner for film Riding in Cars with Boys (2001)
- 2004, Star on the Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.
- 2013: Society of Camera Operators Winner—Governor's Award
- Born Carole Penny Marshall in 1943, as per My Mother Was Nuts, a Memoir, p. 10; ISBN 978-0-547-89262-7. Copyright 2012
- "Comedy On Tap – Garry Marshall Interview".
- "A Penny for your Horsey?". Kentucky New Era. June 24, 1977. p. 10.
- LaSalle, Mick (May 26, 2006). "This Jewish boy's life will make you laugh (and get a bit verklempt?)". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- An Interview with the Cast of Keeping up with the Steins Archived April 18, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
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- "...Anthony "Tony" Masciarelli", a handsome, athletic young man majoring in advertising at New York University ... To better his chances, he changed his last name from Masciarelli to Marshall and forevermore denied that he was both Italian and Catholic". My Mother Was Nuts, a Memoir, p. 4; ISBN 978-0-547-89262-7. Copyright 2012.
- My Mother Was Nuts, a Memoir, p. 18.
- Abramowitz, Rachel (2000). Is That a Gun in Your Pocket? Women's Experience of Power in Hollywood. New York: Random House, ISBN 0-679-43754-1, p. 289
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- "'Laverne & Shirley' Star Cindy Williams Spills Show Secrets in New Tell-All".
- ""Taxi" Louie Moves Uptown (TV Episode 1983)". IMDb.
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- California Marriage Index, 1960–1985, marriage of Carole P. Marshall and Robert Reiner, Los Angeles
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- Rob Reiner [@robreiner] (December 18, 2018). "I loved Penny. I grew up with her. She was born with a great gift" (Tweet). Retrieved December 18, 2018 – via Twitter.
- Dan Rather [@danrather] (December 18, 2018). "Mourning the loss of a funny, poignant, and original American voice" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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