The past 72 hours haven't been Happy Days for the cast of the iconic TV show. Penny Marshall, who played Laverne DeFazio on the sitcom as well as on its smash hit spinoff, Laverne & Shirley, died Monday in her California home from complications of diabetes.
Happy Days cast members mourned the loss of Marshall this week, remembering her as sweet, funny and "deceptively smart."
“Penny was as courageous as she was talented, and broke down the wall for women directors. Penny will be missed, but her talent and inspiration is evergreen,” Anson Williams, who played Potsie Weber, told Deadline.
Marion Ross, who played Mrs. Cunningham, told the news outlet, “Our dear sweet Penny has gone up to see [her brother and Happy Days creator Garry Marshall]. So, there will no doubt be happier days in heaven, just as they made every day happy for us here on earth.”
“So sad to hear about Penny’s passing,” said Don Most, who played Ralph Malph. “She was a very funny, gifted and deceptively smart woman. There will be a lot more laughs up in heaven. RIP Penny.”
Ron Howard portrayed Richie Cunningham on the series and took to Twitter to mourn her death.
“#RIPPennyMarshall She was funny & so smart. She made the transition from sitcom star to A List movie director with ease & had a major impact on both mediums," Howard tweeted. "All that & always relaxed, funny & totally unpretentious. I was lucky to have known & worked with her.”
#RIPPennyMarshall She was funny & so smart. She made the transition from sitcom star to A List movie director with ease & had a major impact on both mediums. All that & always relaxed, funny & totally unpretentious. I was lucky to have known & worked with her. //t.co/pf2kfIkCH4— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) December 18, 2018
Marshall landed her breakout role of Laverne DeFazio on Happy Days with the help of her older brother, Garry Marshall, who created and directed the sitcom. That led to her most well-known role in Laverne & Shirley, in which she starred opposite quirky co-star Cindy Williams from 1976 to 1983, nearly as long as Happy Days itself.
Following Laverne & Shirley, Marshall stepped behind the camera and started her career as a director. In 1988, she became the first woman to direct a film that earned more than $100 million with Big, for which Tom Hanks earned an Oscar nomination. She's also well known for 1992's A League of Their Own, as well as 1990's Awakenings with Robert De Niro and the late Robin Williams.
She was married to actor Rob Reiner from 1971 until 1981 when the couple divorced. On Tuesday, Reiner tweeted, "So sad about Penny... I loved Penny. I grew up with her. She was born with a great gift. She was born with a funnybone and the instinct of how to use it. I was very lucky to have lived with her and her funnybone. I will miss her."
Marshall's older sister, TV producer and casting director Ronny Marshall Hallin, told Page Six that Marshall was "ready" to go when she passed.
"She always said, 'I had a great life,'" Hallin said. "Penny was great — I loved her."
She added that Marshall died "very" peacefully and that she was by her sister's side. "She was ready," Hallin added.
Marshall's family released a statement confirming her death on Tuesday.
"Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall," the statement to TMZ read. "Penny was a tomboy who loved sports, doing puzzles of any kind, drinking milk and Pepsi together and being with her family."0comments
"Penny was a girl from the Bronx, who came out West, put a cursive 'L' on her sweater and transformed herself into a Hollywood success story," they said in another statement, referring to Laverne's iconic uniform.
Marshall had been battling a number of serious health issues on and off since 2009, when she was diagnosed with lung cancer that spread to her brain.