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Penny Marshall, "Laverne & Shirley" star, dead at 75

Penny Marshall dead at 75

Actress Penny Marshall, best known for playing Laverne DeFazio on "Laverne & Shirley," has died. Her publicist confirmed that she died at her Hollywood Hills home Monday night from diabetes-related complications. She was 75. 

Marshall made history with her directing career as well. With "Big," starring Tom Hanks, Marshall became the first woman in history to direct a film that grossed more than $100 million. She also grossed more than $100 million with "A League of Their Own." Marshall also directed "Awakenings" and "The Preacher's Wife."

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Cindy Williams (L.) and Penny Marshall on "Laverne & Shirley." AP

In a statement, her family said, "Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall." They called her "a tomboy who loved sports, doing puzzles of any kind, drinking milk and Pepsi together and being with her family."  

The Marshall family said, "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 became a star with the hit series "Laverne & Shirley," which ran from 1976 to 1983. The screwball comedy series, created by her late brother, Garry Marshall, followed the antics of two blue-collar women who worked as bottle cappers at a factory in Milwaukee. It was a spin-off show from "Happy Days." 

Penny Marshall, groundbreaking director, talks career, memoir

She was married to acclaimed director and actor Rob Reiner from 1971 to 1981. 

In 2012, Marshall published a memoir called "My Mother Was Nuts" about her unlikely rise to fame. She was a divorced single mom in the 1960s before she made her way to Hollywood. 

"Her legacy really was one of a woman who touched every corner of Hollywood — TV, film, and both on screen and behind the camera," Lauren Zima, anchor of ET Live, told CBSN on Tuesday.

"Penny's work really spoke for itself. And with the movie 'Big,' with Tom Hanks in that starring role and her behind the camera, that was the first time a female director ever put out a movie that hit $100 million at the box office. So a huge moment, a huge trailblazing moment."

As a director, "She knew what comedy was, knew what great acting was, and she put the focus on the work... She made really conscious choices and made really iconic films," Zima said.

Marshall is survived by her older sister Ronny, daughter Tracy Reiner, who acted in "A League of Her Own," and three grandchildren Spencer, Bella and Viva.

This article has been updated to correct the title of one of Marshall's films, "A League of Their Own."

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