American actress and filmmaker Penny Marshall died of diabetes-related complications at her California home on Monday, Variety reported. Marshall, who directed the acclaimed films Big (1988), Awakenings (1990) and Renaissance Man (1994), was 75.
Born Carole Penny Marshall in 1943, she made her acting debut with Richard Rush’s The Savage Seven (1968). A few special appearances in movies and roles in television shows followed, including The Odd Couple (1972-1974) and Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers (1974). Her big break was landing the long-running sitcom Laverne And Shirley, a spin-off from Garry Marshall’s Happy Days (1974).
The series, which ran from 1976 to 1983, followed the misadventures of Laverne DeFazio (Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams), best friends and roommates who work at a brewery. While working on the show, Marshall tried her hand at direction by steering four episodes. She made her feature filmmaking debut with the spy comedy Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986), starring Whoopi Goldberg.
With her next film, the Tom Hanks-starrer Big, Marshall became the first woman to make a movie that grossed more than $100 million, according to Variety. Her second film, Awakenings starring Robert De Niro, made her the second female director to get a Best Picture Oscar nomination. Her directorial credits also include the acclaimed sports comedy A League of Their Own (1992) and The Preacher’s Wife (1996). Her last film as director was the Drew Barrymore-starrer Riding In Cars With Boys (2001).
Tributes for the actress poured in from actors and filmmakers.