Penny Marshall GettyImages Photo by Michael Schwartz New York Post Archives
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Tom Hanks and director Penny Marshall in Big, Sept. 10, 1987 / Photo by Michael Schwartz/New York Post Archives /(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)

Penny Marshall, Big director and Laverne and Shirley star, dies at 75

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Dec 18, 2018

Penny Marshall, who pioneered comedy with Big, the fantasy blockbuster that showed Hollywood the power of female directors at the box office, has reportedly passed away.

Marshall, 75, died Dec. 17 at her home in California from heart failure, heart disease and complications from diabetes according to her death certificate, which was later obtained and reported on by TMZ

Famous first for her starring role in ABC’s landmark sitcom Laverne and Shirley in the 1970s and '80s (alongside Cindy Williams), Marshall would go on to star in and direct a number of big-screen classics, branching out for dramas like Awakenings (1990), but never straying far from her comedic roots.

It was Marshall’s Big (1988) that broke her out as a major creative talent who opened the door for other women in Hollywood. Pairing with Tom Hanks to tell the story of a boy who bites off more than he can chew when he’s granted his wish to joint the adult world, Big became the first female-directed film to earn more than $100 million at the U.S. box office.

Spanning more than five decades and moving between roles both on screen and behind the camera, Marshall’s career highlights include Laverne and Shirley (a spinoff of characters Marshall and Williams had played on Happy Days), Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986), Awakenings (1990), A League of Their Own (1992), Hocus Pocus (1993), The Preacher’s Wife (1996), and Riding in Cars with Boys (2001).

This story originally was published on Dec. 18 and updated on Dec. 31, 2018.

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