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Legendary television and movie producer Garry Marshall died today at an undisclosed hospital from pneumonia complications following a recent stroke. He was 81 years old. Marshall, who was also an actor and director, is probably best known for his string of popular 1970s television shows, including Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and Mork & Mindy.
“Happy Days,” which was loosely based on George Lucas’ movie American Graffiti, was an extremely successful show for Marshall that introduced America to a grown-up Ron Howard (formerly of The Andy Griffith Show) and Henry Winkler, as 1950s bad boy Arthur ‘Fonzie’ Fonzarelli. “Happy Days” also gave us the term “Jumping the Shark” which ‘The Fonz’ literally did near the end of the show’s run. Media personality Jon Hein popularized the term “Jumping the Shark,” which refers to when a show has reached its peak in quality and creativity.
Laverne and Shirley, which starred Garry Marshall’s younger sister Penny Marshall (a well known actress and director in her own right) was also a big hit for Marshall. The show was a spin-off of “Happy Days” and focused on the adventures of the friends and roommates the show is named after.
Marshall’s show Mork & Mindy introduced the world to the comedic talents of the late Robin Williams. Williams played alien space traveler ‘Mork from Ork’ who came to Earth on a fact-finding mission but eventually fell in love with the ‘Mindy’ character played by actress Pam Dawber.
In addition to his television work Garry Marshall directed a total of 18 films. His best known film would likely be Pretty Woman, a modern take on the play ‘Pygmalion’ and film My Fair Lady, and the hit comedy Runaway Bride, both starring actress Julia Roberts.
Marshall was born in The Bronx, New York, and is survived by his wife of 53 years Barbara Marshall, two sisters, three children, and six grandchildren.