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The New York Neighborhood That Cultivated Garry Marshall and Other Icons


As the world mourns the loss of filmmaker Garry Marshall, his upbringing in The Bronx helped shape the creative icon where his work would take Hollywood by storm.

Garry was born in 1934, and grew up in a three-bedroom apartment with his parents and sisters —  filmmaker and actress Penny and producer Ronny — in the Grand Concourse section of the Bronx.

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“My two younger sisters — Penny and Ronny — left me alone for the most part. We shared a room in the apartment until my grandparents moved across the hall,” he wrote in The Wall Street Journal in 2015.

Garry was a sickly child who spent a lot of time in bed. He once said it was that alone time that fed his creativity.

“I spent much of my childhood in bed recuperating from one ailment or another. One result of this solitary existence was that my imagination grew. We didn’t have TV then, just the radio, and I listened to Jack Benny and the soap operas. I liked funny stories, and I began to write funny things in-between asthma attacks and throwing up,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal in 2015.

The neighborhood, known for being a popular Jewish and Italian community and working class, also was home to other famous stars including filmmaker Rob Reiner, as well as Bill Finger and Bob Kane, the dynamic duo that would go on to create Batman.

The Happy Days creator’s world changed when television was introduced into his home, he wrote in the Wall Street Journal: “Mom had big plans for me. She had me watch comedians on The Ed Sullivan Show. She thought it was a valuable skill to make people laugh.”

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Garry’s sense of humor, which his mother had recognized in the boy at a young age, would go on to help the icon create some of Tinseltown’s most beloved comedies like Pretty Woman, Overboard and The Princess Diaries.

The filmmaker passed away Tuesday at 81 in his California home after a bout with pneumonia.

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