Home Entertainment Garry Marshall, director of Pretty Woman & creator of Happy Days, has died at age 81

Garry Marshall, director of Pretty Woman & creator of Happy Days, has died at age 81

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And sadly, the 2016 celebrity death toll continues to rise, as word out of Hollywood is that beloved director, producer, writer Garry Marshall has passed away at age 81, due to complications from pneumonia after a recent stroke. The 5-time Emmy Award winning Marshall famously created some of the most beloved sitcoms of the of the 1970’s, and also directed some Hollywood’s most iconic rom-coms. He leaves behind an indelible legacy in the entertainment industry.

That legacy began in the 1970’s when Marshall began his career as a joke writer for The Tonight Show, which transitioned into a TV writing career that saw him work on such classics as The Dick Van Dyke Show, and The Lucy Show, with his writing partner Jerry Belson. The pair would gain fame adaptating stage play The Odd Couple for TV as a long running sitcom. Marshall would later develop and create his own series though, including pop culture phenomenons Happy Days and Mork & Mindy. The former practically became an American institution and introduced the world to the talents of Henry Winkler and Ron Howard, while the latter was the show that propelled a young Robin Williams to fame.


In 1982, Marshall would transition to the big screen as writer/director of the box office hit spoof film Doctors In Love, and follow that up two years later with the Matt Dillon hit The Flamingo Kid. The latter would also become a famous piece of movie trivia, as it became the first film to be awarded the then newly-created PG-13 rating by the MPAA. Marshall would continue working in the feature film space, with high-profile films like BeachesOverboard and Nothing in Commons, but arguably Marshall’s most well known work happened in 1990 when he directed Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in the hugely successful Pretty Woman, which cleaned up at the box office and also landed an Oscar nomination for Roberts and a Golden Globe nomination for Marshall himself. He would once again work with the pair on 1999’s Runaway Bride, which would become a (pardon the pun) runaway success as well.

Gere issued this statement on Marshall’s passing:

“Garry of course was one of those truly important people one is blessed to meet in one’s lifetime. Besides being the pulse and life force of ‘Pretty Woman’… a steady helmsman on a ship that could have easily capsized… he was a super fine and decent man, husband and father who brought real joy and love and infectious good spirits to every thing and everyone he crossed paths with. Everyone loved Garry. He was a mentor and a cheerleader and one of the funniest men who ever lived. He had a heart of the purest gold and a soul full of mischief. He was Garry.”


Other notable entries in Marshall’s filmography includes Laverne and Shirley, Joanie Loves Chachi, The Princess Diaries, Frankie and Johnny, Exit to Eden, and Raising Helen. Marshall continued working throughout his 60+ year career, with just this year seeing the release of his ensemble romantic comedy Mother’s Day, which once again saw him team up with Julia Roberts. She would unfortunately not prove to be the muse she had in the past, as the film was a box office dud and drew insanely harsh reviews. But even with such sour notes at the end of his career, Marshall has still given us enough “happy days” in front of our screens to be immortalized in Hollywood history.

Celebs all over social media have been paying tribute to Marshall in his passing.

Marshall is survived by his wife of 63 years, Barbara, his son and two daughters – all of whom followed in their father’s footsteps in the movie making business, and a number of grandchildren.

Last Updated: July 20, 2016

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