Hollywood legend Garry Marshall is dead at 81. The man behind “Happy Days” and the TV adaptation of “The Odd Couple” passed away from complications caused by pneumonia and a stroke. The Bronx, New York native, and brother of actress/director Penny Marshall was a legend in Hollywood. Before running his own shows Marshall was a writer for Jack Paar’s “Tonight Show,” “The Joey Bishop Hour” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” He would later develop some of the most riveting, fun, and original pieces of Americana filmmaking in the TV industry. Among his other many creations were “Laverne & Shirley,” “Mork & Mindy,” and “Joanie Loves Chachi.” Marshall also stepped in front of the camera in roles on “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show” and as “Murphy Brown’s” Stan Lansing.
RIP Garry Marshall. Here are some facts about his amazing life.
He Started As A Joke Writer for Comedians
Marshall was moonlighting as a joke writer while working full time for the Daily News. He moved to Los Angeles in 1961 and soon started working for many of TV’s top-rated and respected shows. Among his writer credits at the time were “The Tonight Show with Jack Paar,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Joey Bishop Show,” and “The Lucy Show.”
Marshall Had An Insane Amount Of Success Very Early In His Career
Garry Marshall first created the TV series “Hey, Landlord” in 1966. After running for one season he started on the TV adaptation of “The Odd Couple,” which began airing in 1970. He followed up that impressive hit with one of the most popular shows in TV history — “Happy Days.”
He Had Three Choices In Life
Marshall strongly believed that growing up in the Bronx afforded him with three choices in life. He could either become an athlete, turn to a life of crime as a gangster, or learn to tell jokes and be the funny guy on his street. Even as he worked as a journalist he continued to hone his funnyman skills and soon became a main go-to guy for Hollywood comedies.
His Movie Credits Are Just As Impressive
While he started out in TV, Marshall would go on to direct some very iconic movies. Among his credits are Pretty Woman, Beaches, Exit To Eden, The Princess Diaries, and many others. He split his time as a writer, director, and producer. He also acted in some of the movies and TV shows he created.
He Had 3 Of The Top 5 Shows On TV At One Time
Garry Marshall was on an incredible run in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1979, “Happy Days,” “Mork & Mindy,” and “Laverne & Shirley “were among the top five TV shows in the country. All three of those shows were interconnected in some way. For example, Mork the alien first appeared in a Fonzie dream sequence on “Happy Days.” Robin Williams would go on to become a huge star, thanks in part to Marshall’s decision to cast him.
He Was Inducted Into the Television Hall of Fame In 1997
With some of the most popular TV shows of all time to his name, it’s no surprise that Garry Marshall was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. He has also been given his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and took home the Laurel Award for TV Writing Achievement. That prize was given out by the Writers Guild of America in 2014.
He Continued To Appear On-Screen In Recent Years
As he got older Garry Marshall didn’t show any signs of slowing down. In recent years he appeared on such huge hits at “Two and a Half Men,” “Hot in Cleveland,” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” He never shied away from the big stage and would often jump behind the drums when the band was playing on “Happy Days.”
He Founded, And Was Very Active In, A Theater Company
In 1997, Garry Marshall founded The Falcon Theatre near Disney Studios in Burbank. The 130-seat theater started a five-play subscription series in 2002. At the theater, he directed his first opera, “Grand Duchess.” Three years later, he directed “L’Elisir d’Amore” (The Elixir of Love) for the San Antonio Opera. In 2007 he looked back on the past when he debuted a stage musical production of “Happy Days. ”
He Helped Increase The Positive Perception Of Women In Film
Known as one of Hollywood’s nicest guys, Marshall was awarded the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Award in 1996. He was recognized for his creative work which helped enhance the perception of women through their roles on television and in movies. Marshall’s female leads took control of their own lives, guided others, and never took a back seat to any men.
He Enjoyed Mentoring The People He Worked With Throughout Their Lives
As we previously mentioned, Marshall was known for guiding those around him as a mentor and friend. When he found young talent he believed in, he remained their mentor and friend for the rest of their lives. When he passed away one of his longest time friends, Henry Winkler, tweeted: “Rest In Peace…Thank you for my professional life. Thank you for your loyalty, friendship, and generosity.”
Jumping The Shark Is A Term He Accidentally Created
“Jumping the shark” is definitely not the most endearing term a TV show creator can hear. The phrase refers to a moment when a television show has reached beyond its best moments and is now using gimmicks to attract viewers. When the Fonz jumped a shark on “Happy Days” in the first episode of Season 5, the term was officially created and is now used regularly.
He Would Mess With Journalists For Fun
While “Joanie Loves Chachi” wasn’t a huge hit in America, it was the top-rated show of all time in South Korea. It turns out that “Chachi” is the South Korean word for a very specific part of the male anatomy. Viewers thought it would be a salacious program so they tuned in and quickly fell in love with the show. At least that’s the story Marshall told. In reality, “Chachi” doesn’t mean anything in Korean. It wasn’t so much a lie as a joke the famed Hollywood mogul used to promote the TV show .
Marshall Created Mork As A Favor To His Son
There was no bigger movie in the 1970s than Star Wars. After taking his eight-year-old son to see the George Lucas-directed film, his kid told him to introduce an alien to a 1950’s sitcom. Marshall thought it was a silly idea but also agreed to introduce an alien for one Fonzie-led dream sequence in a single episode. Mork helped create one of the highest rated episodes of all-time. Marshall thought he was done with the alien but ABC wanted more and so he created the “Mork & Mindy” spinoff.
His Pretty Woman Musical Is Still Moving Forward
In 2015, Marshall announced that his incredibly popular movie Pretty Woman would be coming to the stage as a musical. Following his death, it was announced that the play is moving forward. The movie’s original writing team and some musical heavyweights have teamed up for the musical adaptation. “Hairspray” and “Kinky Boots’” Jerry Mitchell was named as the show’s director and choreographer. Marshall and the film’s original screenwriter, J.F. Lawton, spent several years working on the production.
He Hired Robin Williams Because Of A Crazy Stunt
Robin Williams was the only person given the chance to audition for the role of Mork. After entering the casting room he was asked to take a seat in a nearby chair. Williams walked over to the chair and sat on his head. He was immediately offered the role that would change the trajectory of his acting career and life.
His Shows Were So Huge They Were Often Turned Into Cartoons
When “Mork & Mindy” was canceled, it was turned into a cartoon. Laverne & Shirley and the Fonz also received their own cartoons. The Fonz even moved over to join the Laverne & Shirley cartoon universe when his own animated show was canceled. None of the cartoons were massive hits but they did show how much of the cultural landscape Garry Marshall had penetrated. ABC ran a program called the “Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour” that ran from 1982 to 1983.
He Was Working On Princess Diaries 3 Before His Death
In April 2016, Marshall said he had spoken to Chris Pine and Anne Hathaway about a third film. Hathaway was pregnant at the time but was willing to talk about rounding out the trilogy. Pine said he would love to return and reprise his role from the sequel, Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. It’s not clear if the third movie, which would be located in Manhattan, is still going to move forward. Marshall wasn’t sure if he would be the person directing the film.
He Was A Family Man
Marshall and his wife were wed in 1963 and remained together until his death, 53 years later. They had three children together and they all followed their loving dad into the entertainment industry, working in theater, TV, and film as producers and directors. It looks like his “nice guy” persona in Hollywood spilled over into his family life. In fact, he would often have his family members appear on episodes of “Happy Days” just for fun.
He Earned A Degree In Journalism
Before he became one of Hollywood’s most famous figures, Marshall earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He took that experience and worked at the New York Daily News. While writing for a living he soon realized that he was better at writing jokes than reporting the news. He eventually transitioned to TV and film where he quickly thrived. He was a sports writer during his time as a journalist.
He Was A Consultant On The Odd Couple Reboot
Marshall loved his work in TV and film and wasn’t about to retire. Even late into 2015, he continued to work as a consultant on the reboot of “The Odd Couple,” which stars Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon. He even appeared on the show as Oscar’s father, Walter. Just like the original, “The Odd Couple” has been a hit for CBS.
He Was Proud Of Targeting The “Lowest Common Denominator”
In his 1995 autobiography Wake Me When It’s Funny, he spoke about targeting “society’s lowest common denominator.” His reason for that decision makes a lot of sense. “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. The strategy obviously worked, as Marshall’s TV shows often ranked at the top of the Neilsen ratings.
With more than 50 years in show business, it’s no wonder that Marshall once claimed to have had a hand in more than 1,000 sitcom episodes. That work included writing, producing, directing, and acting. With a handful of hit shows that carried on for multiple seasons, we can’t say this surprises us all that much. Marshall was as prolific as he was talented.
He Was Able To Disconnect Himself From The Glitz Of Hollywood
His famous sister, Penny Marshall, told The New York Times in 2001 that her brother “has a life” and is able to disconnect himself from the “show business glitterati.” When one of his films did well it was a nice result of his hard work. When a film did poorly, he didn’t have people around him who would “make him feel horrible,” Marshall explained.
His Love Of Playing Sports Was Still Alive And Well In Older Age
It was no coincidence that Garry Marshall started his career as a sports journalist. The award-winning director was still playing on a softball team at 81 years old. He pitched for his team and managed to rack up a 6-1 record. His teams, even later in life, continued to win championships with Marshall playing a key role in those wins. He even founded The Happy Days Softball Team, which plays in games all over the world, including war zones where they meet with soldiers.
He Was A Humble Guy
His TV shows were so successful that Marshall reportedly earned $350 million for Paramount Television in one year alone. The studio wanted to do something really nice for Marshall to thank him for all the success he brought to the study. Not one for flashy gifts, he asked the studio if they could put in a basketball hoop near his offices.
He Was A War Veteran
Before he accepted a job at the New York Daily News, he was a war veteran. Marshall joined the U.S. Army in 1956 and served in the Korean War following his enlistment. When overseas he wrote for the popular Stars & Stripes. It allowed him to hone his writing skills before he moved into big media and then comedy writing.
He’s The Guy Who Brought Us the Fine Art Of ‘Dramedy’
Take a female who is working as a prostitute, surround her with funny and serious situations, and make her job look easy and glamorous. It was that type of setup that led Marshall’s movies to introduce the term “dramedy.” His use of serious subject matter with lots of laughs and optimism is pretty commonplace these days in Hollywood movies and on the small screen.
He Loved Blue Collar Movies And Had No Interest In Big Blockbusters
Marshall didn’t have any plans to shoot big blockbuster films with a ton of CGI and explosions. He once said he preferred blue-collar movies, such as the waitress drama Frankie and Johnny. “I didn’t want to do movies with hundreds of camels crossing the desert followed by tanks and this and that,” he once said.
He Came Up With One Of The Biggest Catch Phrases Of All Time
Garry Marshall championed for John Stamos to get the role of Uncle Jesse on “Full House.” When Stamos asked for some advice so he could land the role and create a memorable character, he was told by Marshall to “get a catch phrase.” The actor explained, “‘So you have Garry to blame for ‘Have Mercy.'”
Even In Death He Continues To Help Others
His wife worked at a free clinic. In fact, Julia Roberts spent a few days working there as she prepared for her Pretty Woman role. Now, even in death, he continues to help those people most in need. His family says donations in his name would be appreciated at The Saban Community Clinic, The ICU at Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank, and the Northwestern University Undergraduate Scholarship Fund.