LOS ANGELES — Cindy Williams, one of America’s most famous stars for her role as Shirley opposite Penny Marshall’s Laverne on the beloved 1970s and 80s sitcom Laverne & Shirley, has passed away. said her family on Monday.
Williams died Wednesday in Los Angeles at the age of 75 after a brief illness, her children, Zach and Emily Hudson, said in a statement issued through the family’s spokesperson, Liza Kranis.
“The death of our kind and hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us an insurmountable grief that we can never truly express,” the statement said. It was our pleasure and privilege, she was one of a kind, beautiful, generous, with a wonderful sense of humor and a glittering spirit that we all love.”
In his film career before turning full-time to television, Williams worked with some of Hollywood’s most elite directors, directing George Cukor’s 1972 Travels With My Aunt and George Lucas’ 1973 American Graffiti. ‘ and appeared in Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘The Conversation’. ” From 1974.
However, she is best known for her spin-off, Laverne & Shirley, which ran on ABC from 1976 to 1983 and became one of television’s most popular shows in her heyday.
Williams played stern Shirley Feeney to Marshall’s more liberal Laverne DeFazio in a show about two blue-collar roommates who struggled on the assembly line of a Milwaukee brewery in the 1950s and ’60s.
“They were beloved characters,” Williams told the Associated Press in 2002.
DeFazio was hot-tempered and defensive. Feeney was naive and trusting. Actors portrayed their own lives for plot inspiration.
“At the beginning of each season, we made a list of the talents we had,” Marshall told the AP in 2002. I tap danced. “
Williams told the Associated Press in 2013 that she and Marshall had “very different personalities”, but the story of the two clashing during the making of the show was “a little exaggerated.”
The series was a rare network hit with working-class characters and a self-help opening song.
That opening will be as popular as the show itself. The “Shlemiel, Shrimazel” chants when Williams and Marshall skipped together became a cultural phenomenon, often evoking nostalgia.
Marshall, whose brother Garry Marshall co-created the series, passed away in 2018.
Actor Rosario Dawson shared a video for the opening theme on Twitter on Tuesday.
“Singing this song in gratitude to two women,” Dawson tweeted. “An absolute gem. United again… Cindy Williams resting in paradise”
The show also starred Michael McKean and David Lander as Laverne and Shirley’s Weird Hunger in Lenny and Squiggy.
McKean paid tribute to Williams on Twitter, sharing memories of the production.
“Behind the scenes, Season 1: Waiting for the cue behind the scenes. The script was tough, we put 110% into it and the audience is having a great time,” McKean tweeted. “Cindy scooped me up and with a big smile said, ‘It’s the food for the show!'” Amen. Thank you Cindy. “
Due to declining ratings in the sixth season, the character moved from Milwaukee to Burbank, California, trading his brewery job for a job at a department store.
In 1982, Williams became pregnant and wanted to work less hours. When her demands were not met, she left the set and filed a lawsuit against the production company.
Williams was born in 1947 in the Van Nuys neighborhood of Los Angeles, one of two sisters. Her family moved to Dallas soon after she was born, but she moved back to Los Angeles where she began her acting career while attending Birmingham High School, majoring in theater. She studied art at LA City College.
Her acting career began in 1969 with small roles on television, appearing in ‘Room 222’, ‘Nanny and the Professor’ and ‘Love, American Style’.
Her role in Lucas’ “American Graffiti” would be the defining role. The film ushered in her subsequent nostalgia boom of the 1950s and early 1960s. “Happy Days,” starring her “American Graffiti” co-star Ron Howard, premiered the following year. The characters of Laverne and Shirley made their first television appearances before having their own show as Henry Winkler’s Fonzie date.
Lucas also considered her for the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars, played by Carrie Fisher.
Over the past 30 years, Williams has made guest appearances on numerous TV series, including ‘Seventh Heaven’, ‘8 Simple Rules’ and ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’. In 2013, she and Marshall appeared in a tribute to her episode of “Laverne and Shirley” from the Nickelodeon series Sam and Cat.
Last year, Williams performed at a theater in Desert Hot Springs, near her home in Palm Springs, California, in an all-female stage show filled with her career story, “Me, Myself and Shirley.”
Williams was married to singer Bill Hudson of the music group Hudson Brothers from 1982 to 2000. Hudson said she was the father of two children. He was previously married to Goldie Hawn and is also the father of actor Kate Hudson.