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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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The show was also a family affair. Besides the obvious roles played by Garry and Penny (who directed some episodes in addition to starring in the show), mom Marjorie wrote music for the sitcom, and dad Tony played Penny's brewery boss, Mr. Shotz. "The Marshall family business works because the Marshalls are a family in business together," sister Ronny Hallin said,
explaining the family's successful collaborations. "We each make up for the others' weaknesses."
Penny Marshall married the actor and director Rob Reiner in 1971, when he was 23 and she was 27. When Reiner's role as Meathead on All in the Family ended while Marshall's success on Laverne and Shirley continued to grow, the marriage hit the rocks. The couple divorced in 1979. Marshall's career also faced challenges when Laverne and Shirley ended in 1983. Marshall found that few good roles followed.
In 1985, Marshall's friend Whoopi Goldberg convinced her to take over the director's chair for the movie Jumpin' Jack Flash. Though the film wasn't a smash at the box office, it launched a successful new chapter of Marshall's career: directing. With her next picture, the Tom Hanks smash Big (1988), Marshall became the first female director ever to gross more than $100 million at the box office with one movie. Her next movie, Awakenings, was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award in 1991. Marshall didn't win the award, but her stature as a director continued to grow. Her crowd-pleasing 1992 film, A League of Their Own, which cast Geena Davis, Rosie O'Donnell and Madonna as players in a short-lived women's professional baseball league, also grossed more than $100 million, making Marshall the first woman with two such blockbusters to her credit. Marshall's films have tended to pull on the heartstrings, a style that some critics have dismissed as corny emotional manipulation. Marshall is unapologetic. "I like corny," she said. "I like what moves me."
After directing the 2001 Drew Barrymore film Riding in Cars With Boys, Marshall mostly turned her energy toward producing and acting in cameo roles. She is an avid collector of sports memorabilia and holds season tickets to both of Los Angeles' pro basketball teams, the celebrity-magnet Lakers and the less-glamorous Clippers.
In 2009, Marshall's agent denied reports that Marshall was battling cancer. Though multiple tabloid outlets reported that her health was failing, she did not speak publicly about her alleged illness. It was later revealed that she did have cancer, and her personal struggle will be one of the many topics covered in her new memoir. Titled My Mother Is Nuts, the book will be published in the fall of 2012. "I have had many lives (not in the Shirley MacLaine sense), and you will hear about them all," Marshall said about the book.
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