Garry Marshall, the famed Hollywood writer-director, died on July 19, 2016 at age 81. As reported by Variety, Garry’s publicist, Michelle Bega, announced his death yesterday, which resulted from pneumonia following a stroke. The publicist’s report was quickly corroborated by Garry’s family.
Best known for creating Happy Days, Mork and Mindy, and The Odd Couple, Marshall was the king of sitcoms from the mid-1970s through the 1980s. Later, Marshall forayed into directing features, with Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries among his movie directing credits. Marshall helped launch the careers of many extremely successful actors, such as Robin Williams (Mork and Mindy), Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman), Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries) and Henry Winkler (‘The Fonz’ in Happy Days), who took the opportunity to tweet about Marshall’s impact on his career in Hollywood:
GARRY MARSHALL Rest In Peace .. Thank you for my professional life. Thank you for your loyalty , friendship and generosity .
— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) July 20, 2016
Happy Days was the top-rated show on American television during the 1976-77 season, and ran for 11 seasons in total (1974-1984). Winkler’s character ‘The Fonz’ became a pop-culture icon, and his leather jacket currently resides in the Smithsonian. While not exactly complementary in nature, the phrase “jump the shark,” referring to a show that has run out of fresh, original ideas and must turn to the ridiculous for new episodes, was coined after ‘The Fonz’ jumps over a shark on water skis in a 1977 episode, an idea Marshall admitted was entirely his own. Marshall found major success on the big screen with Pretty Woman in 1990, which drew Julia Roberts an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and, according to Box Office Mojo, grossed $463 million at the box office worldwide.
Marshall will be remembered as a humble man who had a knack for putting talent at-ease: he was known to have placed having fun during production over anxiety about a movie’s projected box-office performance. He was also a notable local Los Angeles philanthropist. He focused on donating to his children’s high school, the Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, and running the Falcon Theater in Burbank (a popular community theater and local Burbank fixture), which he co-founded with his daughter Kathleen in 1997. He even directed opera on a few occasions for the Los Angeles Opera, certainly unique amongst Hollywood directors. An undoubtedly kind man in possession of a broad skill-set, Garry Marshall will be missed by all those whose lives he touched, whether personally or through his timeless repertoire of movies and TV shows.