Hailee Porter

Written by Hailee Porter

Modified & Updated: 31 May 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith

Source: Newsweek.com

Penny Marshall was a remarkable personality in the world of entertainment. As an actress, director, and producer, she left an indelible mark on both the big and small screens. Best known for her role as Laverne DeFazio on the iconic sitcom “Laverne & Shirley,” Marshall’s talent and versatility extended far beyond acting. Throughout her career, she transitioned into directing and became one of the most successful female directors in Hollywood history.

In this article, we will delve into 33 fascinating facts about Penny Marshall, shedding light on her life, career, and contributions to the industry. From her early beginnings as a Bronx native to her groundbreaking work behind the camera, Marshall’s journey is one to be admired and celebrated. So, let’s dive into the world of Penny Marshall and discover the intriguing facts that shaped her incredible legacy.

Key Takeaways:

  • Penny Marshall was a trailblazing actress and director who made history as the first woman to direct a $100 million-grossing film with “Big” and “A League of Their Own.”
  • Her legacy as a talented filmmaker and advocate for women in the industry continues to inspire aspiring directors worldwide.
Table of Contents

Penny Marshall began her career in acting.

Penny Marshall, born on October 15, 1943, in The Bronx, New York, started her career in the entertainment industry as an actress.

She rose to prominence as Laverne DeFazio in the TV show “Laverne & Shirley.”

Penny Marshall gained widespread recognition for her role as Laverne DeFazio in the hit sitcom “Laverne & Shirley,” which aired from 1976 to 1983.

Marshall transitioned to directing in the 1980s.

After establishing herself as a talented actress, Penny Marshall made a successful transition to directing in the 1980s.

She became the first female director with a $100 million grossing film.

Penny Marshall made history by becoming the first female director to achieve a film that grossed over $100 million with her movie “Big” in 1988.

Marshall directed the iconic film “A League of Their Own.”

Penny Marshall directed the beloved sports comedy-drama “A League of Their Own” in 1992, starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, and Madonna.

She was known for her sharp sense of humor.

Penny Marshall had a reputation for her wit and humor, both on and off the screen. Her comedic timing and sharp one-liners endeared her to audiences.

Marshall’s brother, Garry Marshall, was also a renowned director.

Penny Marshall came from a family with a strong presence in the entertainment industry. Her brother, Garry Marshall, was a highly successful director, writer, and producer.

She directed the film adaptation of “Awakenings.”

In 1990, Penny Marshall directed the critically acclaimed film adaptation of the book “Awakenings,” starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams.

Marshall had a cameo in the movie “Hocus Pocus.”

Penny Marshall made a memorable cameo appearance in the Halloween cult classic film “Hocus Pocus” (1993) as a devil’s wife.

She directed several successful romantic comedies.

Penny Marshall had a knack for directing romantic comedies and found success with films like “The Preacher’s Wife” (1996) and “Riding in Cars with Boys” (2001).

Marshall’s autobiography, “My Mother Was Nuts,” was published in 2012.

In her autobiography, Penny Marshall shared insights into her life, career, and experiences in Hollywood.

Penny Marshall passed away on December 17, 2018.

The world mourned the loss of the talented director and celebrated her contributions to the film industry.

Marshall was known for her philanthropic efforts.

Penny Marshall was involved in various charitable endeavors throughout her life, supporting causes close to her heart.

She directed an episode of “According to Jim” starring her brother.

Penny Marshall directed an episode of the popular TV show “According to Jim” in 2002, which starred her brother, Garry Marshall.

Marshall was recognized with numerous awards and accolades.

Penny Marshall’s talent and contributions to the entertainment industry were acknowledged with awards such as the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Award and the UCLA Jack Benny Award for Comedy.

She was the first woman to direct two films that grossed over $100 million.

Penny Marshall made history once again by becoming the first woman to direct two films that surpassed the $100 million mark with both “Big” and “A League of Their Own.

Marshall worked with renowned actors and actresses throughout her career.

Penny Marshall collaborated with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, Geena Davis, and Robert De Niro.

She directed the romantic comedy “The Other Sister” in 1999.

Penny Marshall showcased her versatility as a director with the heartwarming film “The Other Sister,” starring Juliette Lewis and Giovanni Ribisi.

Penny Marshall was known for creating a comfortable environment on set.

Actors and crew members who worked with Marshall often spoke highly of her ability to create a positive and supportive atmosphere on set.

She had a cameo in the TV show “The Odd Couple.”

Penny Marshall made a guest appearance on the TV show “The Odd Couple” in 2016, showcasing her enduring presence in the entertainment industry.

Marshall directed the beloved holiday film “The Preacher’s Wife.”

Penny Marshall captured the spirit of the holiday season with the heartwarming film “The Preacher’s Wife,” starring Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston.

She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In 2004, Penny Marshall was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, cementing her status as a legendary filmmaker.

Marshall was passionate about supporting women in the film industry.

Penny Marshall was a trailblazer for female directors and dedicated her efforts to creating opportunities and empowering women in the male-dominated film industry.

She directed episodes of popular TV shows like “United States of Tara” and “Becoming Santa.”

In addition to her work in film, Penny Marshall ventured into television and showcased her directorial skills in episodes of various TV shows.

Marshall worked with her ex-husband, Rob Reiner, on the film “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”

Penny Marshall and Rob Reiner collaborated on the action-comedy film “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” in 1986, even after their divorce.

She received a lifetime achievement award at the Chicago International Film Festival.

Penny Marshall’s contributions to the film industry were celebrated with a lifetime achievement award at the prestigious Chicago International Film Festival.

Marshall’s films continue to resonate with audiences today.

Penny Marshall’s films, known for their heartfelt storytelling and relatable characters, have stood the test of time and continue to be cherished by audiences around the world.

She directed an episode of the hit TV show “Entourage.”

Penny Marshall lent her directorial skills to the popular TV series “Entourage,” proving her adaptability in different genres.

Marshall was known for her hands-on approach to filmmaking.

Penny Marshall was actively involved in all aspects of the filmmaking process, from casting to editing, ensuring her vision translated onto the screen.

She was a role model for aspiring female directors.

Penny Marshall’s success as a female director inspired and paved the way for many aspiring women in the film industry.

Marshall directed the film “Renaissance Man” starring Danny DeVito.

Penny Marshall collaborated with Danny DeVito in the comedy-drama film “Renaissance Man,” exploring themes of education and personal growth.

She was known for her down-to-earth personality.

Penny Marshall was beloved by those who knew her for her down-to-earth nature and relatability.

Marshall’s legacy continues to inspire future generations of filmmakers.

Penny Marshall’s contributions to the film industry, her groundbreaking achievements, and her enduring films serve as inspiration to aspiring filmmakers worldwide.

These 33 facts about Penny Marshall highlight her remarkable career, her impact on the industry, and her enduring legacy as a talented actress and director. From her breakthrough role in “Laverne & Shirley” to her historic success as a female director, Marshall left an indelible mark on Hollywood. Her wit, charm, and passion for storytelling continue to resonate with audiences, and her influence on future generations of filmmakers is undeniable.


Penny Marshall was an iconic figure in the entertainment industry, leaving behind a remarkable legacy. From her humble beginnings to becoming a trailblazing director, she captivated audiences with her talent, wit, and charm. Throughout her career, Marshall shattered barriers and paved the way for women in Hollywood. Her undeniable contributions to film and television will forever be cherished, as will her impact on aspiring actors, directors, and filmmakers. Penny Marshall will be remembered as an inspirational figure who fearlessly pursued her passion and changed the landscape of the industry. Her indomitable spirit and remarkable career will continue to inspire generations to come.


1. What were Penny Marshall’s most notable acting roles?

Penny Marshall is best known for her role as Laverne DeFazio in the hit sitcom “Laverne & Shirley.” She also appeared in films such as “A League of Their Own” and “Big.”

2. How did Penny Marshall transition from acting to directing?

After establishing a successful acting career, Penny Marshall made a transition to directing. Her directorial debut came with the film “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” followed by notable projects such as “Big” and “A League of Their Own.”

3. What were Penny Marshall’s contributions as a director?

Penny Marshall made history as a director, becoming one of the first women to direct a film that grossed over $100 million with “Big.” She continued to direct successful films like “A League of Their Own,” “Renaissance Man,” and “The Preacher’s Wife,” showcasing her versatility and talent behind the camera.

4. What impact did Penny Marshall have on the entertainment industry?

Penny Marshall broke barriers for women in Hollywood, proving that they could excel both in front of and behind the camera. Her success as an actress and director inspired a generation of female filmmakers, opening doors for more opportunities and diverse storytelling.

5. What is Penny Marshall’s lasting legacy?

Penny Marshall’s lasting legacy is her trailblazing accomplishments as a woman in the entertainment industry. She was not only a talented actress and director but also a source of inspiration for aspiring artists. Her work will continue to be celebrated and remembered for years to come.

Penny Marshall's remarkable career spanned acting, directing, and producing. Her contributions to beloved films like "Big," where she guided Tom Hanks' unforgettable performance, "A League of Their Own," which showcased her knack for directing an ensemble cast, and "Awakenings," proving her versatility in tackling dramatic material, cement her status as a Hollywood icon. Explore more fascinating facts about these classic movies and gain a deeper appreciation for Marshall's immense talent.

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