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Penny Marshall
American actress, director and producer

Penny Marshall

Penny Marshall
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American actress, director and producer
A.K.A. Carole Penny Marshall, Carole Penelope Masciarelli, Carole Marshall, C...
Was Actor Film director Film producer Television actor Film actor Stunt performer
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender female
Birth 15 October 1943, The Bronx, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Death 17 December 2018, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, U.S.A. (aged 75 years)
Spouse: Rob Reiner
Children: Tracy Reiner
The details (from wikipedia)


Carole Penny Marshall (October 15, 1943 – December 17, 2018) was an American actress, director and producer. She was the daughter of Marjorie Marshall, a tap dance teacher, and Tony Marshall, a film director and producer. Her parents' background in entertainment, along with her brother, Garry Marshall's, background as a comedy writer and her sister's background as a casting director and producer, gave rise to Marshall's career in the industry. 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.

Marshall progressed to directing films in the 1980s, making 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), as well as episodes of the sitcom According to Jim.

Early life

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 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. She began her career as a tap dancer at age three, and later taught tap at her mother's dance school. 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 on a very long thoroughfare 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 2​12 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 Marshall, a writer whose credits at the time included TV's The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–1966). She married Rob Reiner on April 10, 1971.


Laverne & Shirley

She 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". Farrah Fawcett, sensing Marshall's insecurity about her looks, crossed out "Homely" on the Marshall stand-in placard and wrote "Plain". Marshall and another actress Billie Hayes were the only two auditioned for the role of Witchiepoo for H.R. Pufnstuf, produced by Sid and Marty Krofft. Marshall thought that she wasn't right for the part. Hayes got the role.

After her divorce from Michael Henry, Marshall worked as a secretary, and raised her daughter alone. She 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. In 1970, Garry Marshall became the executive producer of the television series The Odd Couple. In 1971, Penny Marshall was added to the permanent cast to play Oscar's secretary, Myrna and held the role for four years. In Marshall's final appearance on The Odd Couple, her character, Myrna, married her boyfriend, Sheldn ("They forgot the 'o' on his birth certificate; legally, it's 'Sheldn'"), played by Rob Reiner, at the time her second husband. The episode included Marshall's real-life siblings, Garry and Ronny, as Myrna's brother and sister, Werner Turner and Verna Turner. Before appearing on The Odd Couple, Marshall was considered for the role of Gloria Bunker Stivic on All in the Family. She ultimately lost the part to Sally Struthers while her husband, Rob Reiner, was cast as Gloria's husband, Michael "Meathead" Stivic.

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). From 1972 to 1973, she appeared as a regular on The Bob Newhart Show and kept up her role on The Odd Couple. In 1974, James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, executive producers of the situation comedy The Mary Tyler Moore Show 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, as part of the powerhouse lineup of All in the Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and The Carol Burnett Show. 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, respectively) on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, after Mary moved into her new apartment in a high-rise. Then Garry Marshall, creator/part-time writer for Happy Days, cast Marshall and Cindy Williams to guest on an episode of that 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 wise-cracking brewery workers, who were dates for Fonzie (played by Winkler) and Richie (played by Howard). The pair were such a hit with the studio audience that Garry Marshall decided to co-create and star them in a successful spin-off, Laverne & Shirley (1976–1983). The characters of Laverne and Shirley also 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. It would take a few years before the actresses were reconciled.

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.

She lent her voice to Ms. Botz aka Ms. Botzcowski, the "babysitter bandit", on the first produced episode of The Simpsons, 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.

Directing career

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, she 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 she announced she was developing a biopic on Effa Manley entitled Effa.

Personal life

While attending the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, Marshall met Michael Henry, a football player. Aged 20, she left college to marry him in 1963; they had one child, a daughter, Tracy. Marshall worked as a secretary and later as a tap dance teacher. The marriage lasted 3 years.

On April 10, 1971, Marshall married actor/director Rob Reiner, who adopted her daughter and gave her his last name. Her marriage to Reiner ended in 1981 but Reiner and Marshall have five grandchildren together.

Marshall had a brief relationship with singer Art Garfunkel in the mid-1980s, and he credits her with helping him through his depression. Their friendship stayed strong even after their romantic relationship ended. Garfunkel would later say of Marshall, "Everything changed. Penny is a sweet human being who can bring anybody down to earth. We had a lot of laughs, great sex, and a ton of party nights."

In 2010, it was reported that Marshall had been diagnosed with lung cancer that had metastasized to her brain, but she revealed in 2012 that she was in remission.

Death and reaction

Marshall died in Los Angeles from complications of diabetes on December 17, 2018, at the age of 75.

Following Penny Marshall's passing 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 actor who went onto to become a celebrated film director, stated on the twice aforementioned social media site that ""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."



As actress

Year Film Role Notes
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
1991 The Hard Way Angie
1993 Hocus Pocus The Master's Wife Uncredited role
1995 Get Shorty Herself Cameo
1998 The Emperor's New Clothes: An All-Star Illustrated Retelling of the Classic Fairy Tale The Imperial Lady-in-Waiting #2 Voice
1999 Special Delivery
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
2016 Mother's Day Narrator

As director

Year Title Notes
1986 Jumpin' Jack Flash
1988 Big
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

As producer

Year Title Notes
1993 Calendar Girl Executive producer
1996 Getting Away with Murder Producer
1998 With Friends Like These... Producer
2003 Risk Producer
2005 Cinderella Man Producer
Bewitched Producer


As actress

Year Title Role Notes
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 Wives Connie 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)
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"
1999 Jackie's Back! Herself Cameo
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"

As director

Year Title Notes
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"

As producer

Year Title Notes
1993 A League of Their Own Producer, TV series
1997 Heaven Will Wait Executive producer, TV pilot
2004 Crossover Executive producer, TV documentary



  • 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—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
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