Penny Marshall, beloved actress & director, has passed away at the age of 75


Penny Marshall belonged to a different era of Hollywood, an era where a working class girl could find her way to sitcom stardom, then transition into one of the most successful directing careers in history. Penny passed away yesterday at the age of 75. She was survived by her daughter Tracy Reiner (the product of Penny’s marriage to Rob “Meathead” Reiner), her three grandchildren and her sister Ronny.

I was too young for Laverne & Shirley, but my mom loved that show (and I suspect your mom did too!). I grew up knowing the name “Penny Marshall” because of her directing credentials. Big was a huge deal to me when I was a kid, and I didn’t know that Big was the first time a female-directed movie broke the $100 million box office. Penny broke $100 million again with A League of Their Own, which was another “big deal” movie for my generation. I’ve seen Big and A League of Their Own maybe 100 times (each). She also directed Jumpin’ Jack Flash (with an African-American woman lead!), Awakenings (which included two of the career-best performances from Robin Williams and Robert De Niro), and The Preacher’s Wife, among others.

Penny was utterly beloved throughout Hollywood and tributes for her poured out on social media and beyond:



Photos courtesy of WENN, Avalon Red.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

28 Responses to “Penny Marshall, beloved actress & director, has passed away at the age of 75”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. L84Tea says:

    This one hurts. I adored Penny Marshall!

    • jan90067 says:

      She was so funny. I remember watching reruns of her, in one of her first roles, on the old “Odd Couple” as Jack Klugman’s long suffering secretary, “Myrna”, with that dry, deadpan delivery. Even then, you knew she was going to go big. She drew your attention. So funny.

      “Big” was one of my favorites; that piano scene was so much fun to rewatch!

      RIP Penny, and much sympathy to those that love her.

  2. Jenns says:

    A League of Their Own will always be a classic. It one of those movies that I will watch any time it’s on.

    And I never knew until yesterday that Jumping Jack Flash was her first film. I love that movie.

    • BooRadley says:

      An Icon to say the very least. A League of their Own has always toped my favourite movies lists, that movie made being a strong badass woman in a field dominated by men incredibly empowering for a young me. I still watch it several times a year, and have a couple copies on VHS and DVD because any time I see it, I always think, omg why don’t I own this movie and then buy it and watch it, only to see it on my shelf later.
      Her deadpan delivery always killed me, her voice, her wit. I am truly saddened.
      May she sit with the angles and make us laugh from heaven.
      I just started chatting to someone new online and our intro conversation was about A League of their Own, her reach is indomitable.

  3. AnotherDirtyMartini says:

    I forgot she directed Big and Awakenings! How was she not nominated for an Academy Award?! Omg, this day is pissing me off already.

    I am old enough to have watched Laverne & Shirley when it aired, and I loved it!

  4. Swack says:

    My nephew is a film editor in HW and he worked with her on a Dennis Rodman biopic film. Said she was really a nice person.

  5. RBC says:

    I remember Penny from Odd Couple and then later Laverne & Shirley. She always made me laugh.
    Fun Fact: She was considered for the role of Archie Bunker’s daughter in “All in the Family” but the producers decided on Sally Struthers since she was a blonde. They wanted Gloria to be closer to Archie in appearance
    RIP Penny, you will be missed

  6. Mia4s says:

    A pioneer!! She never got enough credit as a director (another one of the billion reasons to side-eye Hollywood). She was a treasure.

    It’s been said her final years health-wise were very rough, so I wish her peace. That said, she has reunited with her buddy Carrie Fisher now, and I hope they are having a fabulous time.

  7. BengalCat😻 says:

    Her autobiography is s treasure, one of the best I’ve read. She was so humble and funny and beautiful. RIP ❤

  8. SK says:

    RIP Penny!!

    Does anyone know why she stopped directing big movies? Did she retire?

    • Christin says:

      It seems her health was a challenge for her during the past decade or so. She seems the type who would not make a big deal of her issues, so I assume she quietly retired (or at least semi-retired).

      I liked seeing Cindy and Penny together in interviews over the past 15 years. Rumors were that they may have fallen out over Cindy’s contract negotiations for the show during the early 1980s. Glad to know they reconnected.

  9. Keira says:

    I highly recommend her autobiography!!

  10. Marjorie says:

    Tracy Reiner was the product of Penny’s first marriage; second husband Rob adopted her.

    Penny was Carrie Fisher’s best friend and Billie Lourd’s godmother. Poor Billie.

    I loved Penny and everything she ever did and said. I read yesterday that when she was asked if she had any regrets, she said “I regret that when I was a size zero, there was no size zero.”

    Rest in peace.

    • lucy2 says:

      Thanks, I thought I’d read that about her daughter as well.

    • Gammy says:

      I was coming to hear to say that about her daughter being Rob Reiner’s stepdaughter, although I think he adopted her. Poor Billie, one year after her mom & grandma now her god mother. I hope she is surrounded with lots of support and love.

  11. Gurl says:

    So interesting to learn that her father is from Abruzzo region in Italy and changed the family last name from Masciarelli to Marshall!

    No wonder so many thought both she and her brother were Jewish!

    Though it is noteworthy that many Italians, particularly in Hollywood, had to change their name and pass for other groups to get ahead.

  12. Lizzie says:

    RIP. What a great talent.

    A League of Their Own is the defining movie of my childhood. I pretended to be Dottie Hinson behind the plate for a decade. It is the perfect film. Sweet, serious, hilarious and equally appeals to adults and children.

    dottie and jimmy were supposed to have an overt love story but marshall decided to cut it, which was so brilliant b/c the chemistry is still in the movie. as an adult, the relationship is much more interesting and real. their mutual admiration, his unrequited love and her curiosity is apparent and dottie’s commitment to her husband is a decision. it is actually really complex for such a breezy film and you so rarely see that on screen.

    • hogtowngooner says:

      Same! I grew up playing baseball and had never heard of the AAGPBL before this movie. I still remember seeing this in theatres with my mom when I was little. It’s just such a sweet, beautiful, funny movie about an amazing group of women.

      And I totally agree about dropping the cheesy romantic subplot between Dottie and Jimmy. The whole movie, Dottie was waiting for her husband to return from the war so they could start a family and any romance between her and Jimmy would have been distracting and unnecessary. The real love story was between the two sisters.

      Also TIL that Betty Spaghetti was played by Tracey Reiner!

  13. Christin says:

    I was an elementary school kid during Happy Days and then L&S. I remember watching them with my parents. My mom in particular enjoyed the mid- to late 1950s themes of both, since she was a teen during those years. One memory is when my parents pointed out that “Laverne” was married to “Meathead” in real life. I didn’t realize until today that Rob and Penny literally grew up across the street from one another.

    I still watch the reruns, and it’s one of the few shows that is still funny to me, no matter how many times I’ve seen the episode. They had a great ensemble cast.

  14. Yvette says:

    Rest in Peace, Penny. Thank you so much for sharing your incredible gift with us.

  15. Desolee says:

    A league of their own was one of my favourites in the 90s as a kid

    Who is the talk-show host or tv star who always mentioned Penny Marshall? I’m thinking Rosie Barbara or Fran drescher?

    • Mia4s says:

      She and Rosie O’Donnell were apparently very good friends and Penny was on that show a lot. She directed Rosie in A League if their Own.

  16. Holly hobby says:

    Aw Laverne. Hearing this news actually made me sad. I grew up watching Laverne and Shirley and watched almost all her films. Read her bio too. She and Garry were great story tellers.

  17. Charfromdarock says:

    A League of Their Own was a defining movie of my tween/teen years and remains one of my all time favourites.

    RIP Penney.

  18. lucy2 says:

    This makes me so sad. 🙁
    I loved L&S growing up, and really enjoyed all of the films Penny made. She was one of the best and most successful female directors, but never got the credit she deserved, or made a big fuss about herself and her accomplishments. She just did good work and kept going.
    My condolences to her family and friends.

    ETA just seeing that picture of her and Cindy from the L&S days, Penny looked a lot like my best friend growing up, and I kind of looked like Cindy. I had forgotten that until now.

  19. Valerie says:

    I had just watched Laverne and Shirley a few hours before this was announced. 🙁 Wherever she is now, she and Garry will have everyone in stitches together.

  20. Michele.C says:

    This really saddens me. RIP Penny.

  21. Jag says:

    Actually, I loved Laverne & Shirley and watched it every time it was on. My sister and I would play as them, with me being Laverne. I even tried Pepsi & milk (didn’t like it. lol) Didn’t know that they had an album and also merchandise, as I just researched to make sure it was Pepsi; I became a Coca Cola drinker later on, but haven’t had soda in 20 years.

    She will be missed. RIP Penny.