Penny Marshall Made History As Female Director But Rejected 'Feminist' Label

Penny Marshall in 2007

Penny Marshall, the trailblazing director of smash-hit big-screen comedies who first indelibly starred in the top-rated sitcom "Laverne & Shirley", has died.

Mashall's publicist, Michelle Bega, said she passed away in her Los Angeles home on Monday due to complications from diabetes.

Penny Marshall, who starred in Laverne & Shirley before becoming one of the top-grossing female directors in Hollywood, has died.

Marshall is perhaps best known for her role as Laverne in the ABC sitcom "Laverne & Shirley".

Marshall also had a sports connection in one of her television roles, playing Myra Turner, secretary to sportswriter Oscar Madison, on the TV series "The Odd Couple". She transitioned and became a great director and made unbelievable movies that people don't forget - like "Big" and 'A League of Their Own, ' so two very different careers - and successful in both.

Major League Baseball paid tribute to her saying in a tweet, "We join the baseball community in mourning the passing of Penny Marshall, director of 'A League of Their Own". "Hanks" reprimand from "A League of Their Own" - "There's no crying in baseball!" - remains quoted on baseball diamonds everywhere. "Watch some old Laverne and Shirley to see why her brother Garry insisted on casting her. Comedy gold, she was". After starring on creator Garry Marshall's "Happy Days", Ron Howard directed classics like "Splash", while his Imagine Entertainment gave us "Arrested Development".

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Awakenings, released in 1990, saw Marshall handed a dramatic plotline about a doctor (Robin Williams) who refuses to give up on a ward of comatose patients (among them, Robert De Niro).

Penny Marshall and Tom Hanks on "Cable Vision" in 1981. But next came a project that made Marshall the first woman to direct a film that earned more than $100 million: her 1988 hit comedy Big, starring Tom Hanks. She will be missed. As the New York Times reported in 1992, "She becomes irritated when asked whether directing League was a consciously feminist act". I grew up with her. "I will be forever grateful to her for letting me be a part of A League of Their Own". "It was very romantic", she said. Having directed a few episodes of "Laverne & Shirley", she had the opportunity to direct "Jumpin' Jack Flash", a 1986 comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg.

Later on in her career, in 2005, Penny also produced Cinderella Man, and Bewitched. Neither a schlemiel, nor ever a schlimazel, she shall be missed by her many fans.

Penny's family said: "Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall".

When first breaking into TV, Marshall said she was often cast as the "plain" girl because "I looked like a coconut and had buck teeth". Occasionally, she'd play herself, as she did on Entourage and Bones.

According to Vanity Fair, Marshall and Fisher first became friends in the 1970s after an introduction by Fisher's then husband, Paul Simon, and Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels.

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