Penny Marshall discusses 'Big' success

Director and actress Penny Marshall talks about the unlikely success of her movie "Big" with Soledad O'Brien.

Posted: Dec 19, 2018 1:10 PM
Updated: Dec 19, 2018 1:20 PM

It's sad when someone you grew up with dies -- even if it's a fictional character.

In 1976, I was a 6-foot-tall, 13-year-old girl growing up in suburban New Jersey. I was addicted to sitcoms. It was my escape from the realities of not fitting in (in more ways than one), and I had spent much of my single digit years dreaming of running away to "The Brady Bunch" house, riding in "The Partridge Family" bus and hanging out with Mary and Rhoda on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

At the start of my freshman year of high school, a new show came on the air. It was about Laverne DeFazio, played by the inimitable Penny Marshall, and Shirley Feeney, portrayed by Cindy Williams -- two single women living together, working at Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee and doin' it their way. And the show's ubiquitous theme song had people all over America speaking Yiddish!

Give us any chance -- we'll take it. Read us any rule, we'll break it went the lyrics of the show's theme song.

These women, Laverne and Shirley, were fearless. Finally, here on television were people I could relate to.

Laverne had a thick Bronx accent and wore sweaters with the letter L monogrammed prominently in script on the front. She was bossy, brash and funny, and best of all, she did things her way. We had so much in common. One can never underestimate the power of feeling represented on television.

Nothin's gonna turn us back now, straight ahead and on the track now. ...There is nothing we won't try. Never heard the word impossible. This time there's no stopping us. We're gonna do it.

Not to mention how special the main characters' relationship on "Laverne & Shirley" was. Best friends forever. I could see myself living in an apartment with my best friend, too! In season six, Laverne and Shirley moved to California to fulfill their dreams of being in the movie business. I was in college and had done my first stand-up gig on a dare. I knew by then that my dream too was to be in show business. All of their friends follow suit, and the show lasted three more seasons after that. Was this a harbinger of what was to become of Marshall?

She went on to become one of the most relevant directors in Hollywood. With the 1988 movie "Big," starring Tom Hanks, she became the first woman to direct a film that grossed more than $100 million. She went on to direct perhaps the best "chick flick" of all time, "A League of Their Own" -- and so many more. She became an icon and gave so many female directors hope and an example to follow. Even when she became a household name, she never changed the way she talked or the way she looked. She was the embodiment of being true to oneself. There is no comedy without truth. And she had impeccable timing.

On your mark, get set and go now, Got a dream and we just know now, We're gonna make our dream come true.

But the best part was that we got to know the real woman in that monogrammed sweater, and what a mark she left. The same woman whose stand-in for a shampoo commercial she was shooting with Farrah Fawcett wore a placard that read "Homely Girl."

Penny Marshall was beautiful. She was an unapologetic tomboy. She was in a league of her own. She gave girls like me permission to dream. I hope she knew how many people she made happy -- doin' it her way. May she rest in peace.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 766351

Reported Deaths: 13965
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1052671804
Lake568691028
Allen42858698
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Elkhart29729470
Tippecanoe23441230
Vanderburgh23153404
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Bartholomew8256157
Warrick8053157
Floyd8005181
Grant7349181
Wayne7234201
Boone7173105
Morgan6904142
Marshall6329116
Dubois6270118
Cass6085111
Dearborn600078
Noble597890
Henry5944111
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Lawrence4914127
Gibson461596
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Newton123036
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Brown105943
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Martin92515
Warren87715
Switzerland8328
Union73510
Ohio58311
Unassigned0428

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 1122647

Reported Deaths: 20467
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1302911493
Cuyahoga1171502259
Hamilton823481259
Montgomery534491059
Summit488581014
Lucas43734832
Butler39936614
Stark33800937
Lorain25996509
Warren24896312
Mahoning22685612
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Delaware19120138
Licking16842227
Trumbull16786491
Fairfield16762207
Medina15832276
Greene15499254
Clark14339308
Portage13417218
Wood13338201
Allen12043245
Richland11726213
Miami10998228
Wayne9251227
Columbiana9196236
Muskingum9119137
Pickaway8738123
Tuscarawas8714254
Marion8703140
Erie8126166
Ashtabula7272179
Hancock7044134
Ross7012165
Geauga6948153
Scioto6679108
Belmont6210179
Lawrence5917104
Union590449
Jefferson5723162
Huron5630122
Sandusky5482130
Darke5436130
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Washington5362111
Athens526560
Auglaize507087
Mercer490685
Shelby481297
Knox4609112
Madison447266
Ashland443198
Defiance438499
Fulton435775
Putnam4351104
Crawford4110111
Brown409662
Preble3946107
Logan391679
Clinton389266
Ottawa375581
Highland365068
Williams356478
Champaign348360
Guernsey330254
Jackson321254
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Holmes2725102
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Gallia249250
Pike244637
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Carroll201249
Paulding179442
Meigs151040
Noble137739
Monroe137545
Harrison115238
Morgan111524
Vinton87217
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