Sad news for classic TV fans. A true luminary has passed away. Garry Marshall, perhaps best known for creating the evergreen sitcom Happy Days died Tuesday night in Burbank. He succumbed to complications from pneumonia following a stroke.
Marshall was 81 years old at the time of his death. He was also known for bringing Neil Simon's iconic play The Odd Couple to the small screen for the first time as an American sitcom. A true legend in both the world of film and television, news of his untimely demise was first reported on by Access Hollywood. Cause of death was then confirmed by TMZ.
Garry Marshall was the brother of actress/director Penny Marshall, and was behind her first sitcom Laverne & Shirley, a spinoff of Happy Days. He gave Penny her first big break with a bit part on Happy Days that later expanded into the iconic role of Laverne Defazio. Born in the Bronx, New York, Marshall began his career on television writing for Jack Paar's Tonight Show.
He would go onto write for The Joey Bishop Hour and The Dick Van Dyke Show before developing his first sitcom, an adaptation of The Odd Couple. In the early 70s, he worked on the anthology series Love, American Style, where the character of Richie Cunningham was first introduced. That led directly into Happy Days, which debuted in January of 1974 and ran for 11 seasons, ending in 1984.
During that stretch of time, he would create a vast number of other sitcoms. These included other Happy Days spinoffs Mork & Mindy and Joanie Loves Chachi, along with Donna Pescow's Angie, Blansky's Beauties, The Brian Keith Show and Hey, Landlord. The man didn't just work behind the camera, he was also a featured actor on such shows as The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and he played Stan Lansing on Murphy Brown. He later appeared on Brothers and Sisters and Louie. This past year, he showed up on an episode of CBS' new The Odd Couple sitcom reboot.
Garry Marshall was also quite the prolific movie director. He is responsible for quite a few iconic films, perhaps most notably the movie that turned Julia Roberts into a household name, Pretty Woman. He also directed both of Anne Hathaway's Princess Diaries movies. Other hits include The Flamingo Kid and Beaches. He also wrote the biography Wake Me When It's Funny: How to Break into Show Business and Stay There. He is survived by his wife Barbara Marshall and his 3 children.