Penny Marshall
Penny Marsall

Actor, Director Penny Marshall Dies

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LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) — Penny Marshall, an actor, director, and producer best known as Laverne DeFazio in the popular late 1970s sitcom Laverne & Shirley, has died. She was 75.

A spokeswoman for Marshall’s family told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that Marshall passed away at her Los Angeles home on Monday night due to complications from diabetes.

“Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall,” the Marshall family said in a statement.

A native of New York City, Marshall landed several early roles in television and commercials, including The Bob Newhart Show, The Odd Couple and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, where she played Janice Dreyfuss.

However, her big breakthrough came in 1976 when she was cast as a co-lead in the Happy Days spin-off Laverne & Shirley. The show, which told the story of two friends and roommates who shared a basement apartment and work as bottle-cappers in the fictitious Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee, was an immediate hit and ended its first season as the #3 show in the U.S. and the #1 show by its third season.

After Laverne & Shirley went off the air after 8 seasons, Marshall moved into directing, starting with television and then on the big screen with her directorial debut being 1986 Jumpin’ Jack Flash starring Whoopi Goldberg in 1986.

Her other film credits include Big, which was the first feature film with a female director that grossed more than $100 million, the baseball film A League of Their Own (1992), and Riding in Cars with Boys (2001).

Marshall was married to actor and director Rob Reiner, but the marriage ended in 1981.

Marshall is survived by her sister Ronny, daughter Tracy Reiner and three grandchildren, Spencer, Bella and Viva. Plans for a memorial service have yet to be made, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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