Film director, producer, screenwriter, and actor, Garry Marshall is often referred as one of the founding fathers of modern American sitcom. The stars discovered by him include Julia Roberts, Robin Williams, and his own sister, Penny Marshall. He started his career by writing jokes and later teamed up with Jerry Belson to write scripts for television shows. The first sitcom created by them was ‘Hey, Landlord’ followed by a television adaption of Neil Simon’s play, ‘The Odd Couple.’ He went on to independently create the sitcom, ‘Happy Days’ and ‘Laverne & Shirley.’ He has directed 18 feature films, including the box office hits, ‘Pretty Women, ‘The Princess Diaries,’ and ‘Valentine’s Day.’ He has acted in the sitcom ‘Murphy Brown’ and the film ‘Soapdish.’ He wrote the play ‘Wrong Turn at Lungfish’ in collaboration with Lowell Ganz and co-produced the musical ‘Shelves and Happy Days: A New Musical’ with Paul Williams, which premiered at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank, owned by him. Marshall died at the age of 81 due to complications related to a stroke followed by pneumonia.
Childhood & Early Life
Garry Kent Marshall was born on November 13, 1934, in The Bronx, New York, USA, to Anthony Wallace Marshall and Marjorie Irene. His father was a film director and producer, while his mother ran a tap dance school. He is said to have inherited his wit from his mother. He is the brother of actress Penny Marshall and producer Ronny Marshall. Their father was of Italian decent while their mother had mixed English, German and Scottish ancestry.
He was baptized under the Presbyterian Church and raised as a Lutheran by his parents. He graduated from De Witt Clinton High School and later did his degree in journalism from the North-western University. During his university days he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and wrote the sports column for the university daily magazine.
He served in the US Army in South Korea for two years and returned to New York to become a reporter for the New York Daily News.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
He made his entry into show business by writing jokes for comedians like Phil Foster and Joey Bishop. His work gained recognition and he soon earned the position of a writer for ‘The Tonight Show’ with Jack Paar.
He moved to Hollywood in the early 60’s and teamed up with Jerry Belson to write scripts for television shows of various artists. The first sitcom created by them, ‘Hey, Landlord’ was sponsored by Procter & Gamble and aired on the NBC network in 1966 – 67. This was followed by a television adaption of Neil Simon’s play, ‘The Odd Couple’ and the popular sitcom ‘The Lucy Show’ that were produced by him.
He went on to independently create the sitcom, ‘Happy Days’ that was aired on ABC with 255 episodes over eleven seasons. His other independent venture titled ‘Laverne & Shirley’ featured his sister Penny Marshall in a lead role and was aired on ABC network from 1976 to 1983.
Marshall met Hector Elizondo in the early 80’s and featured him in his first feature film titled ‘Young Doctors in Love.’ Thereafter, Elizondo has appeared in all the films directed by him, including the hit comedy film ‘The Flamingo Kid’ written and directed by Marshall.
In the course of his career he has directed as many as 18 feature films including the box office hit romantic comedies, ‘Pretty Women, ‘The Princess Diaries,’ ‘New Year’s Eve,’ ‘Beaches’ and ‘Valentine’s Day.’
Garry Marshall has also worked in front of the camera and taken on varied roles including his appearances in the sitcom ‘Murphy Brown,’ the film ‘Soapdish,’ the reality show ‘On the Lot’ and the animated sitcom ‘The Simpsons,’ where he made a guest appearance.
He wrote the play ‘Wrong Turn at Lungfish’ in collaboration with Lowell Ganz and co-produced the musical ‘Shelves and Happy Days: A New Musical’ with Paul Williams, which premiered at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank.
Garry Marshall remained a leading personality in American show business for over five decades and has ventured into almost every field of the entertainment industry. He has kept himself abreast with his fans and evolved with time to remain relevant till his last days.
His directing credits in films include ‘The Flamingo Kid’ (1984), ‘Pretty Woman’ (1990). ‘Runaway Bride’ (1999), ‘The Princess Diaries’ (2001), ‘Valentine’s Day’ (2010), ‘New Year’s Eve’ (2011) and ‘Mother’s Day’ (2016).
Continue Reading Below
He has produced or written the television programs ‘The Joey Bishop Show’ (1961 – 65), ‘The Lucy Show’ (1962 – 68), ‘Hey, Landlord’ (1966), ‘Happy Days’ (1974 – 84), ‘Laverne and Shirley’ (1976 – 83), ‘Monk & Mindy’ (1978 – 82), ‘Angie’ (1979 – 80), ‘The New Odd Couple’ (1982 – 83), and ‘The Odd Couple’ (2015 – 2016).
He has also acted in ‘Goldfinger’ (1964), ‘Soapdish’ (1991), ‘Murphy Brown’ (1994 – 97), ‘Never Been Kissed’ (1999), ‘Orange County’ (2002), ‘Chicken Little’ (2005), ‘The Looney Tunes Show’ (2011 – 13), ‘Two and a Half Men’ (2014), ‘Life After Beth’ (2014) and ‘BoJack Horseman’ (2015).
He co-wrote his autobiography titled ‘Wake Me When It’s Funny’ in 1995 and released his second memoir titled ‘My Happy Days in Hollywood’ in 2012.
Awards & Achievements
Marshall received the American Comedy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1990.
He received the Valentine Davies Award and Laurel Award for TV Writing Achievement from the Writers Guild of America in 1995 and 2014 respectively.
Marshall was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1997 and the National Association of Broadcaster’s Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2012 for his contribution to television.
He received the Women in Film Lucy Award for excellence and innovation in enhancing the image of women through television.
He married Barbara Wells in 1963 and had three children. His daughter Kathleen Marshall grew up to be an actress and producer, while his son Scott Marshall became a film director. His other daughter, Lori Marshall, is the co-author of his memoir ‘Wake Me When It’s Funny.’ He is the owner of the Falcon Theatre in Burbank, California which is operated by him along with his daughter Kathleen Marshall.
Marshall died in a Burbank hospital at the age of 81 on July 19, 2016, due to complications related to a stroke followed by pneumonia. His body was put to rest at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills. Rich tributes were paid at his funeral by the who’s who of Hollywood.
Hector Elizondo has appeared in some form or the other in each and every film directed by Marshall. He also had an obsession for basketball and included a scene with the game in his works, wherever he could fit it in.
He made photo albums with himself and each and every cast and crew member of each of his films to keep as a record for himself.
A building made for radio, film and television production in North-western University has been dedicated to him and his wife.
He played the role of the husband of his sister, Penny Marshall, in ‘Hocus Pocus’ and his mother, Majorie Marshall, appeared in his serial ‘Happy Days.’
He directed Julia Roberts in ‘Pretty Woman.’