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Actress, Director Penny Marshall Dies At 75

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And this morning, we are looking back on the life of actress and director Penny Marshall, who died on Monday night at the age of 75.

NOEL KING, HOST:

First, Marshall was a famous actress.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY")

PENNY MARSHALL AND CINDY WILLIAMS: (As Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney) Schlemiel, schlimazel, hasenpfeffer incorporated.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing) We're going to do it.

KING: One of her best-known roles was Laverne DeFazio in the "Happy Days" spinoff "Laverne and Shirley."

GREENE: Yeah. It was about two friends and roommates who worked at the Shotz Brewery.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY")

PENNY MARSHALL: (As Laverne DeFazio) What is this?

CINDY WILLIAMS: (As Shirley Feeney) Graham crackers.

MARSHALL: (As Laverne DeFazio) You put the Scooter Pies back and got graham crackers?

WILLIAMS: (As Shirley Feeney) Yes.

MARSHALL: (As Laverne DeFazio) Well, think about that, Shirl.

WILLIAMS: (As Shirley Feeney) What's to think about? They're graham crackers.

MARSHALL: (As Laverne DeFazio) Yeah, but Scooter Pies don't leave crumbs in the bed.

WILLIAMS: (As Shirley Feeney) Oh.

MARSHALL: (As Laverne DeFazio) They don't. You want to sleep on crumbs?

GREENE: That beloved series ran for eight seasons, from 1976 to 1983. But then eventually, Marshall stepped behind the camera, and she started to direct. First came the Whoopi Goldberg movie "Jumpin' Jack Flash" in 1986.

KING: And then in 1988, she made "Big." It starred Tom Hanks as a 13-year-old boy in a man's body.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BIG")

TOM HANKS: (As Josh) It turns from a building into a robot, right?

JOHN HEARD: (As Paul) Precisely.

HANKS: (As Josh) Well, what's fun about that?

KING: It was a box office hit. Marshall became the first woman to direct a movie that brought in over $100 million at the box office. Talking to NPR in 1988, she said she identified with the themes of childhood innocence in that movie.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

MARSHALL: If you lose the child in you when you get older, as far as, you know, being too driven, too - you know, that work becomes too important and you just become a horrible human being that you could keep some of that innocence and openness at being of a decent human being.

KING: Marshall went on to direct other successful films, including "Awakenings," which was nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards in 1991.

GREENE: And Penny Marshall also directed "A League Of Their Own," a film about the women who played in a female professional baseball league during World War II. Former President of the Baseball Hall of Fame Dale Petroskey told The National Press Club it was the best baseball movie ever made.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DALE PETROSKEY: I think that that was a great public service that Penny Marshall performed by doing that movie. Those women are prouder of being professional baseball players than anything they ever did in life, and Penny Marshall gave them their life back.

GREENE: Penny Marshall died this week from complications from diabetes.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing) Doing it our way. Nothing's going to turn us back now. Straight ahead and on the track now. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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