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Penny Marshall became a successful film director after starring in the sitcom Laverne and Shirley. Her works include Big and Riding in Cars With Boys.
Penny Marshall describes how she met Rob Reiner.
Penny Marshall talks about her love of basketball.
Penny Marshall discusses her fear of committing thoughts to paper.
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Penny Marshall, born in New York City in 1943, spent her early years as Laverne on the sitcom Laverne and Shirley. In 1985, Marshall's friend, Whoopi Goldberg, convinced her to pursue a career in directing, starting with the movie Jumpin' Jack Flash. The film wasn't a hit, but it launched Marshall's career. She went on to direct Big,
Awakenings, A League of Their Own and Riding in Cars With Boys.
Born Carole Penny Marsciarelli on October 15, 1943, in New York City, Marshall grew up in the Bronx with parents Tony Marshall, a director and producer, and Marjorie Marshall, a dance teacher. (Penny's Italian-American father changed the family's last name before she was born.) Penny had two siblings, older brother Garry and sister Ronny, whom she would later follow into show business.
After spending her entire childhood in the Bronx, Marshall "wanted to get out," following graduation from Walton High School in 1960. "I didn't care where," she said. She ventured west to the University of New Mexico, where she studied math and psychology, and enlisted friends and teachers to help her lose her thick Bronx accent. "Obviously, they failed," she later quipped in her distinctive New York cadence.
While in college, she took up with a campus football player named Michael Henry and became pregnant with their daughter, Tracy. She married Henry and dropped out of school. Marshall worked as a tap dancer and secretary to support the young family, but when the marriage ended a few years later, she decided to move to Los Angeles to try to break into show business. While there, she reunited with her brother Garry, who was working as a comedy writer, and her sister Ronny Hallin, who was a casting director and producer.
It was a rough ride at first. The few television commercials she booked focused on her less-than-glamorous looks, featuring her as the "before" in before-and-after ads for supposedly transformative beauty products. By 1971, after several years in Los Angeles, Marshall landed a recurring role as secretary Myrna Turner on The Odd Couple, a show her brother wrote. Marshall scored two appearances on The Mary Tyler Moore Show before scoring a larger role on another of her brother's series, Happy Days. Marshall joined the actress Cindy Williams in playing Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney, respectively, double dates of Fonzie and his pal. Audiences responded so enthusiastically to the wisecracking women that Garry Marshall created a spin-off series based on their characters.
Laverne and Shirley, a sitcom chronicling the lives of two women working in a Milwaukee brewery, ran from 1976 to 1983 and became a big hit with audiences.
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From the early days of film, directors have transported audiences from darkened movie theaters to memorable worlds of their own creations. Their artistic visions and technical innovations have made a lasting impression on cinema from early silent films, starring and directed by Charlie Chaplin, to the psychological thrillers of Alfred Hitchcock to the blockbuster hits of Steven Spielberg and so many more. Here is a look at the famous film directors who have made their mark on the big screen.
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