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'Laverne & Shirley' Actress, Cindy Williams, Dies at 75 - Hollywood Reacts To The News

‘Laverne & Shirley’ Actress, Cindy Williams, Dies at 75 – Hollywood Reacts To The News

Tom Arnold, James Woods, Johnny Grant, Henry Winkler, Penny Marshall, Ed Begley Jr., Cindy Williams, Garry Marshall, Sally Kirkland (Photo: Shutterstock/s_bukley)
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LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) – Actress Cindy Williams who played Shirley Feeney in the classic sitcom Laverne & Shirley passed away on Wednesday (January 25). Williams died after a short illness according to a statement released by her family and Williams’ personal assistant, Liza Cranis. She was 75.

“The passing of our kind, hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed. Knowing and loving her has been our joy and privilege. She was one of a kind, beautiful, generous, and possessed a brilliant sense of humor and a glittering spirit that everyone loved.

“We have always been, and will remain, SO proud of her for many things… her lifelong mission to rescue animals, her prolific artistry, her faith, and most of all, her ability to make the world laugh!” they continued. “May that laughter continue in everyone, because she would want that. Thank you for loving our Mom, she loved you too.”

Williams was born in Los Angeles in 1947 as one of two sisters. After moving to Dallas with her family, they eventually returned to LA where she began acting while at Birmingham High School. She went on to study and major in Theater at LA City College.

In 1969, she appeared on the small screen with appearances on Love, American Style and Room 222. Williams is best-known for her portrayal of the beloved Shirley Feeney but she appearred in so much more over the course of her decades long career. Most notably was 1973’s movie American Graffiti, directed by George Lucas. That role earned her a British Academy Film Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. The movie went on to be nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture.

Williams made her first appearance as Feeney alongside her comedic partner Penny Marshall as Laverne DeFazio in a Happy Days episode as the “dates” of Henry Winkler’s character, Arthur Fonzarelli or “The Fonz” in 1975.

Laverne & Shirley was born as a Happy Days spin-off in 1976 and ran until 1983. The opening theme song became just as well-known and popular as the show itself. Williams and Marshall skipped down the street as “Give us any chance, we’ll take it, read us any rule, we’ll break it,” played in the background.

Garry Marshall, the real-life brother of Laverne co-created the series and passed away in 2016. Penny passed away due to cardiopulmonary failure two years later.

Williams’ other acting credits include 7th Heaven, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and she made an appearance on the Nickelodeon series, Sam and Cat starring Ariana Grande and Jeanette McCurdy.

Last year, Williams starred in a one-woman show called Me, Myself and Shirley at a theater in Palm Springs, CA. She was also an accomplished author writing her memoir, Shirley, I Jest!: A Storied Life in 2015.

Stars across Hollywood are mourning her loss.

Ron Howard to People: “She loved her work and her art and gave it everything that she had, and she also always found her way to put her stamp on what she was doing. She really was dedicated creatively, and I took notice of that and tried to draw inspiration from it. She was highly intelligent, very funy, very astute about the world around her. Very skeptical of glamour or the illusions around our business. She fell prey to none of that.”

Yvette Nicole Brown: “I hate this so much. I just hate it! Oh how I loved Cindy Williams. When I was blessed to meet her on the set of @TheOddCoupleCBS, she was as lovely as I always imagined she’d be. #Dammit”

Jason Alexander: “I did not know Cindy Williams but boy did I adore her work, especially the wacky joyful funny pleasure of watching her Laverne and Shirley days. I pray she had a good life and send my sympathy to those who knew and loved her. #RIPCindyWilliams”

Henry Winkler: “She was a fine and talented human being.”

Williams was married to Bill Hudson of the music group the Hudson Brothers from 1982 until 2000. Hudson is the father of her two children and the father of actress Kate Hudson.

Williams is survived by her two children, Emily and Zachary Hudson. RIP.

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