Garry Marshall, a true pioneer and visionary of film and television director and writer died in Burbank at the age of 81.
He pleased and humored millions over the years with TV hits such as Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy.
His movie credits are well known with ones such as Nothing in Common, (’86) with Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason; Overboard (‘87) starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell; Beaches (‘88) with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey; Pretty Woman (‘90) and Dear God (‘96) with Greg Kinnear and Laurie Metcalf.
(photo credit: Universal Pictures)
Richard Gere, who starred opposite Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman,” said in a statement that “everyone loved Garry. He was a mentor and a cheerleader and one of the funniest men who ever lived. He had a heart of the purest gold and a soul full of mischief. He was Garry.”
The Gere-Roberts pairing that helped make “Pretty Woman” a smash hit as well as the sequel in ’99, Runaway Bride. The Princess Diaries in ‘01 was another successful movie.
Henry Winkler, who starred as Fonzie on Happy Days, saluted Marshall in a tweet as “larger than life, funnier than most, wise and the definition of friend.”
He grew up in the Bronx, New York, earned a degree in journalism from Northwestern University and worked at the New York Daily News. His entertainment career began in the 1960s selling jokes to comedians, then moved to writing sketches for “The Tonight Show” with Jack Paar in New York. Joey Bishop brought him to Los Angeles to write for his show, The Joey Bishop Show.
He and then-writing partner Jerry Belson turned out scripts for popular comedies of the ‘60s, including The Lucy Show, The Danny Thomas Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show.
In 1970, they turned Neil Simon’s Broadway hit, “The Odd Couple,” into a sitcom starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall and produced by Marshall. It ran for five seasons and was quite successful.
In January 1979, Marshall had three of the top five comedies on the air with Happy Days, which ran from 1974-84; Laverne & Shirley” (1976-83), which starred his sister Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams, and Mork & Mindy (1978-82) with launched the TV side of Robin Williams.
He also created the Falcon Theatre in Burbank with adult and children’s programming.
Marshall is survived by his wife, Barbara, and the couple’s three children, Lori, Kathleen and Scott.
Contributed by Michel (Michael) Stevens.