Appreciation: Penny Marshall left behind a 'Big' legacy

Penny Marshall crammed a lot of creativity into a relatively concentrated period, from her iconic sitcom wor...

Posted: Dec 19, 2018 5:50 AM
Updated: Dec 19, 2018 5:50 AM

Penny Marshall crammed a lot of creativity into a relatively concentrated period, from her iconic sitcom work to her transition into directing, producing an iconic TV show and a memorable string of movies.

Marshall, who died Monday at age 75, left her mark both in front of and behind the camera. Her older brother, producer and director Garry Marshall, was certainly instrumental in her TV stardom, casting her in "The Odd Couple" (as Myrna the secretary) before she landed on "Happy Days" and eventually her own wildly popular spinoff, "Laverne & Shirley."

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Still, Garry was quick to reassure his sister that nepotism wasn't responsible for her good fortune. In a 1988 interview, Penny told the Los Angeles Times that her brother had said, "'I'm not giving you a job 'cause I'm nice. I'm not that nice.'"

Marshall's gifts as a comic actress turned out to be the most recognizable aspect of her career, but not necessarily the most impressive. Having directed a few episodes of "Laverne & Shirley," she had the opportunity to direct "Jumpin' Jack Flash," a 1986 comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg.

The movie failed, but it opened the door to the film world, which paid off with "Big," the whimsical comedy-fantasy starring Tom Hanks. That box-office hit made Marshall the first woman to direct a movie that earned more than $100 million.

Marshall followed that with "Awakenings" -- a moving drama starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams -- before reuniting with Hanks on "A League of Their Own," the popular baseball movie that made its debut in 1992.

Marshall directed three more movies over the next decade ("Renaissance Man," the remake "The Preacher's Wife," "Riding in Cars With Boys"), then shifted to episodic TV work and occasional guest appearances. But in hindsight, her career was largely defined by what amounted to a staggeringly creative 20-year stretch beginning in the mid-1970s, bookended by the premiere of "Laverne & Shirley" and the release of "The Preacher's Wife," which starred Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston.

In interviews, Marshall often talked frankly about her insecurities, including her concerns early in her career that she wasn't pretty enough to succeed as an actress. "I grew up believing an actress is supposed to be beautiful," she once said.

At the same time, she was immersed in show business, having been married to actor-director Rob Reiner (they later divorced) in addition to her frequent collaboration with her late brother, which included narrating his final film, "Mother's Day," and guest starring in his "The Odd Couple" series revival, both in 2016.

To paraphrase the "Laverne & Shirley" theme song, Marshall might not have made all her dreams come true. But her self-confessed doubts notwithstanding, she left behind a big, beautiful screen legacy.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 735999

Reported Deaths: 13486
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1007151752
Lake54249977
Allen40946680
St. Joseph36335553
Hamilton35829408
Elkhart28844443
Tippecanoe22475219
Vanderburgh22367397
Porter18946311
Johnson18067381
Hendricks17317315
Clark13036192
Madison12762339
Vigo12501249
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Monroe11957172
Delaware10755187
Howard10001218
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Hancock8373142
Bartholomew8098156
Warrick7799155
Floyd7690178
Grant7098174
Wayne7072199
Boone6745101
Morgan6611140
Dubois6166117
Marshall6111112
Cass5876105
Dearborn583178
Henry5785105
Noble565984
Jackson503773
Shelby494396
Lawrence4602120
Gibson437192
Harrison436672
DeKalb430585
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Montgomery425889
Whitley398739
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Steuben391057
Miami383968
Knox372890
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Jefferson331881
White317754
Daviess298399
Wells292081
Decatur285992
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Greene280585
Posey272034
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Scott267554
Clay261347
Washington242132
Randolph242081
Spencer232931
Jennings230949
Starke219354
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Owen203356
Jay197830
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Carroll190420
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Blackford135132
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Newton108934
Brown102641
Crawford101415
Benton99014
Martin89515
Warren82615
Switzerland7948
Union71410
Ohio57111
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1091623

Reported Deaths: 19528
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1268061406
Cuyahoga1132982134
Hamilton804211211
Montgomery518231015
Summit47606955
Lucas42618792
Butler38548585
Stark32661909
Lorain25199486
Warren24390300
Mahoning21795588
Lake20846371
Clermont19880240
Delaware18608133
Licking16488212
Fairfield16327200
Trumbull16196468
Medina15379266
Greene15143244
Clark14096299
Wood13168189
Portage12966206
Allen11740232
Richland11433199
Miami10713220
Wayne8923214
Columbiana8881229
Muskingum8831133
Pickaway8596121
Marion8561136
Tuscarawas8509245
Erie7958155
Hancock6944128
Ashtabula6904172
Ross6876156
Geauga6741148
Scioto6444102
Belmont5978168
Union575448
Lawrence5590102
Jefferson5583151
Huron5462120
Sandusky5380122
Darke5374126
Seneca5311122
Washington5228109
Athens520858
Auglaize494986
Mercer481585
Shelby470293
Knox4513110
Madison439363
Putnam4301101
Ashland426590
Fulton426469
Defiance424697
Crawford3993107
Brown397557
Logan383276
Preble381398
Clinton374163
Ottawa369081
Highland356862
Williams343475
Champaign335358
Guernsey317653
Jackson314152
Perry295950
Morrow287239
Fayette283550
Hardin271964
Henry270366
Coshocton266157
Holmes2625101
Van Wert244263
Adams240053
Pike238634
Gallia236749
Wyandot232155
Hocking216462
Carroll192448
Paulding174340
Meigs145540
Noble134137
Monroe132542
Harrison109637
Morgan108823
Vinton84915
Unassigned02
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