Renown film and television writer, director, and actor Garry Marshall passed away on Tuesday, July 19 at the age of 81, from complications of pneumonia following a stroke at a hospital in Burbank, California, according to a statement from his publicist and representative.
The Hollywood icon’s credits and work include both TV and film that spans over 50 years.
Marshall’s most recent film “Mother’s Day” (2016), which he wrote and directed, reunited him with actress Julia Roberts whom he directed in “Pretty Woman” in 1990.
Marshall, was an actor, director, producer, writer, voice artist, and comedian. He is known for creating Happy Days and its various spin-offs, developing Neil Simon’s 1965 play The Odd Couple for television, and directing Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, Mother’s Day, The Princess Diaries, and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.
Garry Kent Masciarelli was born in the Bronx, New York, on November 13, 1934, to parents Marjorie Irene (née Ward), a tap dance teacher, and Anthony Wallace Masciarelli, an industrial film director. Marshall’s father was of Italian descent, with the family originating in San Martino sulla Marrucina, Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy. Marshall’s mother was of German, English, and Scottish ancestry.
The family surname was changed by his father from “Masciarelli” to “Marshall” after Marshall’s birth in 1934. Although baptized in the Presbyterian church, Marshall also attended a Lutheran church during his childhood.
Marshall attended Public School 80 and De Witt Clinton High School, both in the Bronx. Following high school graduation, Marshall attended Northwestern University, studying journalism. Marshall was a sports writer for Northwestern’s newspaper, The Daily Northwestern, and pledged to the fraternity Alpha Tau Omega.
Marshall began his career as a joke writer for such comedians as Joey Bishop and Phil Foster and became a writer for The Tonight Show with Jack Paar.
In 1961, he moved to Hollywood, where he teamed up with Jerry Belson as a writer for television. The pair worked on The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Joey Bishop Show, The Danny Thomas Show, and The Lucy Show. Their first television series as creator-producers was Hey, Landlord, which lasted one season (1966–67).
Then they adapted Neil Simon’s play The Odd Couple for television. On his own, Marshall created Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley (starring his sister Penny), and Mork & Mindy, which were produced by his associates Thomas L. Miller, Robert L. Boyett, and Edward K. Milkis. He was also a co-creator of Makin’ It, which the three men also produced.
In the early 1980s, he met Hector Elizondo while playing basketball and became great friends. Elizondo appeared in every film that Marshall directed, beginning with Marshall’s first feature film Young Doctors in Love. Elizondo once noted that he is written into all of Marshall’s contracts whether he wanted to do the film or not.
In the opening credits of Exit to Eden (their eighth film together), Elizondo is credited “As Usual … Hector Elizondo”.In 1984, Marshall had a film hit as the writer and director of The Flamingo Kid.
A consummate producer, Marshall wore many hats during this period of his career: Most of his hit television series were created and executive produced by him.
His first producing assignment came with Hey, Landlord in 1966. He stepped up the very next year, producing The Lucy Show. Then came successes in producing The Odd Couple, Laverne and Shirley, Blansky’s Beauties, Mork & Mindy, Angie, and Happy Days.
Marshall also launched independent productions through his theater (The Falcon in Toluca Lake) and in association with productions launched with talent he was grooming and working with for years. One such project titled Four Stars was directed by Lynda Goodfriend (who portrayed Lori Beth in Happy Days), and was based on a play Goodfriend had read when she was studying at the Lee Strasberg Center, which had been written by John Schulte and Kevin Mahoney. It starred Julie Paris (the daughter of ‘Jerry Paris) and Bert Kramer.
Marshall went on to focus on directing feature films, with a series of hits, such as Beaches, Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries, Valentine’s Day, and New Year’s Eve.
Marshall was also an actor, making his television acting debut starting as a child with a recurring role in The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1950–58), appearing in Murphy Brown and in such films as Soapdish, On the Lot, and provided a guest-starring voice for The Simpsons episodes Eight Misbehavin’ and Homer the Father. He also appeared in two episodes of Happy Days as a drummer.
His theater credits included Wrong Turn at Lungfish, which he wrote in collaboration with Lowell Ganz, The Roast with Jerry Belson, Shelves and Happy Days: A New Musical with Paul Williams, which had its premiere at the Falcon Theater in Burbank, California, February 24, 2006. He portrayed the role of “director” on Burbank’s “Lights… camera… action!” float in the 2014 Rose Parade.
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