Ron Howard, Henry Winkler and the Cast of Happy Days Pay Tribute to Penny Marshall
Howard, 64, remembered Marshall, who died of complications from diabetes, as “funny” and “smart” in a tweet he shared on Tuesday.
“#RIPPennyMarshall She was funny & so smart. She made the transition from sitcom star to A List movie director with ease & had a major impact on both mediums,” the Solo: A Star Wars Story director wrote. “All that & always relaxed, funny & totally unpretentious. I was lucky to have known & worked with her.”
Howard starred as Richie Cunningham in the family show opposite Winkler, 73, who portrayed Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli, the local bad boy. Marshall played Laverne DeFazio, a tough-talking tomboy.
Based on the popularity of her character along with Cindy Williams’ Shirley Feeney, Laverne’s roommate, ABC created the Happy Days spin-off, Laverne & Shirley, which cemented Marshall as a sitcom star.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Winkler said, “I first met Penny one month after having arrived here in LA. I was a guest star on a TV pilot she was working on.”
“The next time we worked together was on that iconic episode of “Happy Days.” She was so inventive, so funny and so warm,” he continued. “She brought her own unique brand of humor to what was on the written page. Watching her playing Laverne, I remember thinking, ‘Wow,” she has just created the 20th Century Lucille Ball.””
Other Happy Days cast members such as Anson Williams, who played one of Richie’s best friends Potsie, remembered the Big director, telling Deadline in a statement, “Penny was as courageous as she was talented, and broke down the wall for women directors. Penny will be missed, but her talent and inspiration is evergreen.”
Marion Ross, who portrayed the family matriarch, Mrs. Cunningham, told the outlet, “Our dear sweet Penny has gone up to see Garry [Marshall]. So there will no doubt be happier days in heaven, just as they made every day happy for us here on earth.”
Don Most, who played Ralph, agreed with Ross, telling the publication, “So sad to hear about Penny’s passing. She was a very funny, gifted and deceptively smart woman. There will be a lot more laughs up in heaven. RIP Penny.”
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Marshall passed away on Monday night at her Hollywood Hills home of complications from diabetes, PEOPLE confirmed. She was 75. The Awakenings director had previously been diagnosed with brain and lung cancer in 2009 before going into remission by 2012.
“Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall,” her family said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “Penny was a girl from the Bronx, who came out West, put a cursive ‘L’ on her sweater and transformed herself into a Hollywood success story. We hope her life continues to inspire others to spend time with family, work hard and make all of their dreams come true.”
Marshall is survived by her older sister Ronny, daughter Tracy Reiner, and three grandchildren: Spencer, Bella and Viva.