Penny Marshall, the Bronx-born producer, director and actor best known for playing Laverne DeFazio on “Laverne & Shirley,” has died. She was 75.
Marshall’s publicist confirmed to CBS News that she died Monday at her Hollywood Hills home from diabetes-related complications.
Carole Penny Marshall was born Oct. 15, 1943 to Marjorie, a tap school teacher, and Tony, a director and producer who changed the family name from Marsciarelli.
One of three children with a propensity for the spotlight, Marshall was a born performer and began taking tap dance lessons from her mother at age 3.
Marshall worked on commercials and had small roles on television before getting a recurring part on “The Odd Couple” in 1971. She went on to appear on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Mork & Mindy” and “Happy Days.”
She starred on “Laverne & Shirley,” being cast by her brother, Garry, as a one-half of the titular duo. The show was a hit, running from 1976 to 1983 and depicting Marshall’s DeFazio and Cindy Williams’ Shirley Feeney as wise-cracking single women who worked at the fictional Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee.
Marshall then moved behind the camera, breaking ground as a female director in a male-dominated industry. She became the first female director to gross $100 million with “Big” in 1988, repeating her success for “A League of Their Own” in 1992.
Figures in Hollywood, fans and admirers of Marshall's work took to social media to mourn her passing.
"Mourning the loss of a funny, poignant, and original American voice," journalist Dan Rather wrote on Twitter. "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. May she RIP."
"RIP Penny Marshall. You were a light in this world," wrote Justine Siegal, the first female coach in Major League Baseball. "Your movie A League of Their Own honored the women of the (All-American Girls Professional Baseball League) and inspired others to play baseball. You made a difference. Thank you."
"I got to stay up late-after Happy Days-2 watch Laverne & Shirley," actor Sean Astin tweeted. "So sad 2 learn that Penny Marshall has passed. Sitting on a sit-com set 40 years later, thinking about milk & pepsi, rodeo-doh-doh-doh & so many of her brilliant moments. Love to her family, friends & our town... "
Marshall was married from 1963 to 1966 to Michael Henry. The couple had a daughter, Tracy, in 1964. Marshall married actor and director Rob Reiner in 1971. The couple divorced a decade later. She also dated singer Art Garfunkel for five years.
Ten years ago, Marshall was diagnosed and treated for brain and lung cancer. She had the tumor in her brain surgically removed, and underwent radiation to treat her lung.
Marshall was survived by her older sister, Ronny, her daughter, and three grandchildren. Her family said plans for a celebration of her life will be announced at a later date.