Hollywood siblings Garry and Penny Marshall may be gone, but their accomplishments live on. After working in 1970s sitcoms — Garry behind the camera as a writer and producer, Penny in front of it on Laverne and Shirley — they both found success as film directors. And among their movies are several that helped performers turn into bona fide movie stars, which in Hollywood may be the most lasting legacy of all.
Whoopi Goldberg in 'Jumpin' Jack Flash'
Penny was a replacement director for Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986), a comedic spy thriller set during the Cold War. But after taking the reins she brought the troubled project to completion. And along the way she helped Whoopi Goldberg shine as a character who tries — in a humorous manner — to rescue a British spy trapped behind the Iron Curtain.
Penny's direction highlighted Goldberg's comedic talents, unlike her Oscar-nominated supporting role in The Color Purple (1985). Though Jumpin' Jack Flash wasn't a box office success, it demonstrated Goldberg had star quality.
Tom Hanks in 'Big'
In Big, Tom Hanks wasn't headlining his first movie. The 1988 film wasn't even his first to succeed at the box office. But it did push him into the top ranks of movie stardom — and earned him his first Oscar nomination.
Penny guided Hanks toward a performance that captured the innocence of a child. This was demonstrated in the iconic scene of Hanks, with Robert Loggia, dancing and performing on a big piano. People go their entire careers trying to create moments as special as Big's "piano scene" — Penny did it in the second movie she directed.
Rosie O’Donnell in 'A League of Their Own'
A League of Their Own (1992), about a women’s baseball league that filled a sports void during World War II, had a strong ensemble cast. Yet within that talented group, Penny helped comedian Rosie O'Donnell stand out. O'Donnell's Doris was relatable, funny and had the kind of friendship that makes life worth living with teammate Mae (played by Madonna).
A League of Their Own marked O'Donnell's film debut. Thanks to Penny using O'Donnell's talents wisely — something her brother Garry wouldn't accomplish in box office bomb Exit to Eden (1994) — O'Donnell was able to jump from comedy to acting.
Mark Wahlberg in 'Renaissance Man'
Penny deserves credit for giving Mark Wahlberg his first movie role in 1994's Renaissance Man. The Danny DeVito-starring picture didn't succeed at the box office, but Wahlberg's charm shone through in his small part as an army recruit struggling in basic training.
Wahlberg's resume now includes mega-hits like Planet of the Apes, Ted, and Daddy's Home, but before Renaissance Man, he'd been known as rapper Marky Mark and for his work as a Calvin Klein underwear model — so he was not seen as destined for movie stardom. Penny helped make that stardom happen.
Robin Williams in 'Mork & Mindy'
Given Robin Williams' incredible talent, it would've been hard to keep him from becoming a star, but Garry still deserves credit for providing the perfect starter vehicle. In Mork & Mindy, a sitcom created by Garry about alien Mork from Ork and his adventures on Earth, Williams got to let loose and have fun. It was a springboard to a movie career that would include Aladdin, Dead Poets Society and Good Morning Vietnam.
Penny, who co-starred with Williams in the pilot for Mork & Mindy, also deserves credit for her work with the actor. In Awakenings (1990), she helped him play a more muted role, instead of simply relying on his comedic gifts.
Julia Roberts in 'Pretty Woman'
Garry helped Julia Roberts become queen of 1990s romantic comedies by casting her in Pretty Woman. The film put Roberts' charm on full display, with her wide smile and full-throated laugh enchanting audiences (and co-star Richard Gere).
Pretty Woman was also the right vehicle for the right performer. Thanks to Garry's light touch and faith in humanity, a movie about a prostitute falling for the man who'd hired her became a warm-hearted romantic tale.
Anne Hathaway and Mandy Moore in 'The Princess Diaries'
An unknown Anne Hathaway saw her career take off after Garry cast her as Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries (2001). Garry helped the actress be believable as both the clumsy odd girl out and as a beautiful princess. (His granddaughters are also to thank - they told him that Hathaway had the perfect "princess hair.")
In addition to Hathaway, Garry also let Mandy Moore demonstrate her acting abilities in the film. Moore was a pop star at the time, but after playing a bully in this project she went on to find movie stardom of her own with projects like A Walk to Remember (2002).
Chris Pine in 'The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement'
The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004) was a sequel that not only brought Hathaway back to her breakthrough role, but it also offered a career launchpad for Chris Pine. Playing Hathaway's love interest was Pine's film debut.
So it's in part thanks to Garry that Pine was able to go on to other roles, including Wonder Woman's love interest Steve Trevor and Star Trek's Captain James Kirk.