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Penny Marshall: Hollywood’s Eternal Legend

Penny Marshall (right) and Cindy Williams from the hit show Laverne and Shirley. Image: (c). 1976, 2018, ABC; Publicity still from American Broadcasting Corporation for January 27, 1976. Source: WikiCommons.

Actress / Comedian 

An outstanding actress and comedian, Penny Marshall filled America’s hearts with love and laughter for decades starring and appearing on shows including; Happy Days, Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mork & Mindy, Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers, Saturday Night Live, The Jackie Gleason Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Frasier, Dinah! The Odd Couple, Laverne and Shirley, and many more.

Producer / Director 

Penny Marshall later become one of the greatest producers and directors of our time, with films including; Cinderella Man, Riding in Cars with Boys, Bewitched, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, and many others.

World Record Holder: Big

In 1988, Penny Marshall directed Tom Hanks in the motion picture “Big,” which went on to gross over 152 million dollars with a reported 18 million dollar budget, making her the first female director in the world to gross over 100 million dollars with a major motion picture.

Groundbreaker: A League of Their Own 

Just four years later in 1992, Penny Marshall directed Tom Hanks again in a film with an all female ensemble including her daughter; actress, writer, producer, and director Tracy Reiner, as well as Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, Lori Petty, Anne Cusak, Bitty Schram, Lynn Cartwright, Anne Ramsay, and more, in the hit film “A League of Their Own.” This film again broke the 100 million dollar barrier, became a cult classic, and went on to influence the world, leading the cause and serving as the empowering call to help champion the long overdue need for the formation of women’s baseball teams throughout the world.

Born on October 15, 1943 in The Bronx, New York as Carole Penny Masciarelli; Penny Marshall married Michael Henry, and later actor, writer, director, producer, and political activist Rob Reiner.  Her brother; writer, producer, director Gary Marshall, passed on in 2016.

Forever Remembered 

Known for her great sense of humor, hard work ethic, love of Hollywood and sports, and love of family and friends, Penny Marshall will forever be remembered as not only one of the greatest comic actresses, producers, and directors of our time, but also as one of the most groundbreaking female leaders on the planet. Penny was a woman who changed and shaped history, proving to young girls around the world that not only can they too dream, but that they achieve what it is out they set out to accomplish.

Widely respected throughout Hollywood for her cultural achievements, Penny Marshall and her family have been responsible for some of the most memorable, iconic moments in filmmaking of all time.  Positively impacting the world of sports, and women’s equality in all areas, Penny Marshall lit and carried the torch for women around the world to not only be funny–but to be brave, and to change history by making it.  And make history Penny Marshall did.

Today, her daughter Tracy Reiner–who were very close, carries on that legacy from her mother.  In addition to heading her own feature film production company, Tracy Reiner serves as President of the historic Hollywood Women’s Club. Penny Marshall is also survived by her sister; actress Ronny Hallin, and five grandchildren.

As the first female producer and director on the planet to break the 100 million mark with “Big,” Penny brought laughter and tears to audiences around the world. With her role as Laverne DeFazio in the legendary TV sitcom Laverne & Shirley,” Penny gave a face to the woman next door, and an example for women to stand up, and stand strong. And with her trailblazing, iconic film “A League of Their Own,” Penny Marshall helped make what was once a man’s world and a man’s business of movie-making and baseball, a little more female. She will forever be remembered.

–By Bruce Edwin



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