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Trailblazing Director and ‘Laverne & Shirley’ Actress Penny Marshall Dies at 75

Actress and director Penny Marshall has died at age 75. Marshall was known for her small screen portrayal of blue-collar tomboy Laverne DeFazio in TV’s Laverne and Shirley, and for directing blockbuster hits such as A League of Their Own and Big, the first woman-directed movie to clear $100 million at the box office.

Her career took off in the 1970s, thanks to the physical comedy she perfected while playing the title character in Laverne and Shirley, a Happy Days spinoff that co-starred Cindy Williams as Shirley Feeney.

Marshall’s 1986 directorial debut, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, starred Oscar-winner Whoopi Goldberg. Marshall followed that success with 1988’s Big, starring a young actor named Tom Hanks. The film went on to gross over $150 million worldwide. Her next hit, the 1992 women’s baseball flick, A League of Their Own, earned $132 million worldwide.

Marshall often credited her career to her director brother, Gary Marshall, who created Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley, and was known for hit films including Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries. Gary Marshall passed away in 2016.

Penny Marshall, who went by her middle name instead of first name, Carole, was married and divorced twice. With her second husband, actor and director Rob Reiner, she had a daughter, actress Tracy Reiner.

Marshall’s final project, a documentary film about basketball star Dennis Rodman, is in post-production and is expected to be released in 2019.