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‘Happy Days’ and ‘Pretty Woman’ director Garry Marshall dies at 81

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  • babypook
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    Garry Marshall, director of ‘Pretty Woman’ and creator of ‘Happy Days,’ is dead at 81

    Garry Marshall

    Garry Marshall, with frequent collaborator Julia Roberts, has died at age 81. (Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

    By Associated Press

    July 19, 2016, 9:45 PM

    Writer-director Garry Marshall, whose deft touch with comedy and romance led to a string of TV hits that included “Happy Days” and “Laverne & Shirley” and the box-office successes “Pretty Woman” and “Runaway Bride,” has died. He was 81.

    Marshall died Tuesday at a hospital in Burbank of complications from pneumonia after having a stroke, his publicist Michelle Bega said in a statement.

    The director also had an on-screen presence, using his New York accent and gruff delivery in colorful supporting roles that included a practical-minded casino boss unswayed by Albert Brooks’ disastrous luck in “Lost in America” and a crass network executive in “Soapdish.”

    “A great, great guy and the best casino boss in the history of film,” actor-filmmaker Brooks posted on Twitter.

    Henry Winkler, who starred as Fonzie on “Happy Days,” saluted Marshall in a tweet as “larger than life, funnier than most, wise and the definition of friend.”

    Richard Gere, who starred opposite Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman,” said in a statement that “everyone loved Garry. He was a mentor and a cheerleader and one of the funniest men who ever lived. He had a heart of the purest gold and a soul full of mischief. He was Garry.”

    Marshall, brother of actress-director Penny Marshall, earned a degree in journalism from Northwestern University and worked at the New York Daily News. But he found he was better at writing punchlines.

    “In the neighborhood where we grew up, in the Bronx, you only had a few choices,” Marshall said in a 1980s interview. “You were either an athlete or a gangster, or you were funny.”

    He began his entertainment career in the 1960s selling jokes to comedians, then moved to writing sketches for “The Tonight Show” with Jack Paar in New York. He caught the eye of comic Joey Bishop, who brought him to Los Angeles to write for “The Joey Bishop Show.”

    lFrom the Archives

    Garry Marshall followed his heart when he opened Falcon Theatre

    Garry Marshall followed his heart when he opened Falcon Theatre

    Sitcoms quickly proved to be Marshall’s forte. He and then-writing partner Jerry Belson turned out scripts for the most popular comedies of the `60s, including “The Lucy Show,” “The Danny Thomas Show” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”

    Marshall and Belson detoured into screenwriting in 1967 with “How Sweet It Is,” starring Debbie Reynolds, and followed it up with “The Grasshoppers” (1970) with Jacqueline Bisset. But the two men kept their hand in TV.

    In 1970, they turned Neil Simon’s Broadway hit, “The Odd Couple,” into a sitcom starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall and produced by Marshall. It ran for five seasons and proved the beginning of a TV sitcom empire.

    In January 1979, Marshall had three of the top five comedies on the air with “Happy Days,” which ran from 1974-84; “Laverne & Shirley” (1976-83), which starred Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams, and “Mork and Mindy” (1978-82) with newcomer Robin Williams.

    “Critics have knocked me for targeting society’s lowest common denominator,” he said in his 1995 autobiography, “Wake Me When It’s Funny,” written with his daughter, Lori Marshall.

    “I believe that television was, and still is, the only medium that can truly reach society’s lowest common denominator and entertain those people who maybe can’t afford a movie or a play. So why not reach them and do it well?” he said.

    Penny Marshall told The New York Times in 2001 that her brother “has a life. He’s not into the show business glitterati. If he has a hot movie, that’s great. But if he has something that doesn’t do great, he’s not around those people who won’t speak to you or will make you feel terrible.”

    After cranking out what Marshall once estimated to be 1,000 sitcom episodes, he switched his focus to the big screen with 1984’s “The Flamingo Kid,” a coming-of-age story starring Matt Dillon, which Marshall wrote and directed.

    He concentrated on directing with his later films, including 1986’s “Nothing in Common,” with Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason; “Overboard” (1987) starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell; “Beaches” (1988) with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey; “Pretty Woman” (1990) and “Dear God” (1996) with John Denver and George Burns.

    The Gere-Roberts pairing that helped make “Pretty Woman” a smash hit did the same for “Runaway Bride,” which reunited them in 1999. “The Princess Diaries” in 2001 was another winner, although Marshall suffered a flop with “Georgia Rule” (2007), starring Jane Fonda and Lindsay Lohan.

    He served as a consultant on CBS’ 2015 reboot of “The Odd Couple,” starring Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon, and appeared in an episode this year as Oscar’s father, Walter.

    Marshall is survived by his wife, Barbara, and the couple’s three children, Lori, Kathleen and Scott.

    Funeral services will be private but a memorial is being planned for his birthday on Nov. 13, his publicist’s statement said.

    Reply
    M
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    He’s the third Pretty Woman related death of the year. Natalie Cole, Wild Women Do; Prince, referenced in the bathtub scene; now the director. Poor Penny Marshall.

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    Teridax
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    RIP Garry Marshall 🙁

    Okay, somebody is inevitably going to ask this eventually, so let me just get it out of the way. Is Garry Marshall going to become the first person to posthumously win a Razzie for Worst Director for Mother’s Day?

    It has 7% on Rotten Tomatoes for freaks sake! That’s less than both of the most recent Worst Picture winners, 50 Shades of Stupid and even Fant4stic! Whether you like it or not, coming from someone who hasn’t even seen Mother’s Day, I honestly don’t think that sentiment will stop this thing from at least being considered.

    May Garry be remembered for Pretty Woman (one of my Papa’s ((my mom’s dad, to be exact)) favorite movies of all time, and not this year’s disaster with a Julia Roberts (who only had to work 4 days on the film to get paid $3 Million) cameo.

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    jf123
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    He’s not getting a Razzie nom and the film will probably get snubbed too. Nobody at the Razzie’s wants to deal with that backlash

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    babypook
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    #1201875473

    He was such an active member of the community, and contributed so much during his lifetime. May his legacy carry on.
    RIP.

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    Andrew Carden
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    I’ve long adored Garry Marshall, not only for Happy Days but also Laverne & Shirley, Lost in America, A League of Their Own, Soapdish, Frankie & Johnny and more. He was such a funny and friendly man, dedicated exclusively to work (sans Beaches, perhaps) designed to put a smile on the viewer’s face.

    OSCAR FLASHBACK: Best Original Song (1979) – That Time Norma Rae Squashed Kermit

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    Someonelikeme
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    #1201878545

    RIP Garry.

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