A Look Back at the Lasting Impact of Laverne & Shirley: Celebrating Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams’ Contributions to Television
It is with great sadness that the family of Cindy Williams, most notably known for her iconic role as Shirley in the s and s sitcom “Laverne & Shirley,” has announced her passing on Wednesday at the age of following a brief illness in Los Angeles. Family spokeswoman Liza Cranis released a statement from Williams’ children Zak and Emily Hudson, which reads: “The passing of our kind, hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed. Knowing and loving her has been the greatest honor of our lives.
It was with great joy and privilege that we remember iconic actress, Penny Marshall. She was a one-of-a-kind individual known for her beauty, generosity and hilarious wit. Her radiant spirit was beloved by all who had the opportunity to experience it. Her illustrious film career saw her collaborate with some of the most renowned directors in Hollywood, including George Cukor, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola. However, she is best remembered for her role in “Laverne & Shirley”, a spin-off from the “Happy Days” show which ran from to , during which it was considered one of the most popular series on ABC.
The iconic characters Shirley Feeney and Laverne DeFazio, played by Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall respectively, featured on the renowned television program that revolved around a pair of blue-collar roommates who worked in the Milwaukee brewery during the s and s. In a interview with The Associated Press, Williams conveyed her sentiment of their much-loved characters, citing Feeney as naive and trusting whereas DeFazio was characterized as quick-tempered and defensive. Moreover, both actors constructed storylines based upon their individual lives; Marshall told the AP in that they would produce a list of talents at the commencement of each season.
In , Williams told The Associated Press that she and Marshall had “very different personalities,” although reports of disputes during the production of the show were “a bit overblown.” The series was renowned for its self-empowering opening song which heavily resonated with working-class viewers: “Give us any chance, we’ll take it, read us any rule, we’ll break it.” This song achieved equal success as the show itself. Furthermore, the chant of “schlemiel, schlimazel” uttered by Williams and Marshall while they skipped along together became a popular catchphrase in everyday life.
In , Marshall, brother of Garry Marshall who co-created the series, passed away. Actor Rosario Dawson shared a video of the opening theme on Twitter Tuesday, accompanying the post with, “Singing this song with so much gratitude for both of you ladies. Absolute gems. United again… Rest in Paradise Cindy Williams.” Michael McKean and David Lander, who portrayed characters Lenny and Squiggy as Laverne and Shirley’s oddball hangers-on in the show, were featured. Tragically, Lander died in , to which McKean paid tribute to Williams through a memory from the production on Twitter, noting, “Backstage, Season : I’m offstage waiting for a cue.
McKean’s tweet elucidated that the audience was having an excellent time, as he stated that he was giving it %. Furthermore, Cindy scooted by him and arced a glorious grin while remarking “Show’s cookin’! Amen.” Such a salutation warrants admiration, as alluded to by McKean. Subsequent to ratings dipping in its sixth season, the characters migrated from Milwaukee to Burbank in California, substituting their brewery posts with positions at a department store. Notably, in , Williams desired her working hours to be reduced due to her pregnancy; however, when her request was not granted, she took legal action against the production company and abstained from taking part in the concluding season.
It is safe to say, we will never forget the stars of the beloved 1970s sitcom, Laverne & Shirley. Cindy Williams and David Lander are no longer with us, but their comedic performances remain with us fondly. Their friendship, along with that of their co-stars Michael McKean and Rosario Dawson, will continue to be a reminder of pure excellence in television history. May their memories live on as we each take our own life journeys.