Penny Marshall: TV's Laverne DeFazio Was A Filmmaking Force

Left: Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall on 'Laverne & Shirley.' Right: Penny Marshall at the 31st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards circa 1979 in Pasadena, California. Sources: IMDB; Barbara Rosen/IMAGES/Getty Images

On TV, Penny Marshall was Laverne DeFazio of the duo Laverne & Shirley, but the Bronx-born star was more than an actress; as director of such films as Big and A League Of Their Own, she became one of the most successful female filmmakers in male-dominated Hollywood. 

The daughter of a tap dance teacher and a film director and the sister of a casting director and scriptwriter, Penny Marshall was destined to make her mark on the entertainment world. But in the early 1960s, she was a divorced single mom working as a secretary while waiting for her big break to come. With the help of her well-connected family, that break came, turning Penny Marshall into a household name and an icon of the 1970s. 

When she died in 2018, she left behind a legacy as a gifted comedic actress and a trailblazing filmmaker.