Garry Marshall, ‘Pretty Woman’ Director, Dies at 81; a TV and Film Comedy Mastermind

Mr. Marshall’s work in TV and movies fattened the archive of romantic, family and buddy comedies and found a sweet spot in the middle of the mainstream.

Comments: 93

  1. Well I guess he's jumped the shark. Garry Marshall was a national treasure. I hope a fuller obituary is to follow and one higher above the digital scroll line.

  2. Very sorry to hear this. I believe there is a special place in the cosmos for the spirits of people that can make us laugh over and over and over. RIP

  3. Garry Marshall brought a lot of pleasure to so many. His humor was gentle and brilliant. I loved his shows and his movies and will miss him. He was a New York treasure.

  4. Pretty Woman was unique. You could see the wink in every frame and pretty much did not care. Rest in Peace and just like the Fonz stay cool. You are missed.

  5. Always enjoyed seeing Garry Marshall interviewed he knew what was funny and he was able to put it in scripts for comedies on TV and films. Lost in America is a classic film and Pretty Woman will always have an audience for the romantic fantasy that it is.

  6. I fell in love with Gary's talent watching KEEPING UP WITH THE STEINS. He so reminded me of people in my own family with his portrayal of Erwin Fiedler and gave the best portrayal of a Jew by a non-Jew I've ever seen. I still think he must have some Jewish blood in him because, seriously, he was just too Jewish to not be one! Oh wait - I guess they call that acting and he did it brilliantly. May he rest in peace.

  7. As Laverne once put it in a late episode of Laverne and Shirley as she is trying to get a job in the Playboy bunny club: "Are you Italian?" the girl answers, "No, Jewish." Laverne wryly responds, "same thing."

  8. While not so much a fan of the TV shows he was creatively associated with, just never having gotten into them, I was very much a fan of his acting, where he shone as this very likable and always funny guy with the New York accent who no matter how small the part always stole the scenes he was in. Tony Shalhoub's frequent flier seat mate on an episode of Monk being classic.
    You couldn't help but like him in every appearance he made (very much in the vein of a similarly multi talented NY actor, Sheldon Leonard), those acting appearances were too infrequent, every one never failing to induce a laugh or a smile. Wish he'd done more.
    May he rest in piece.

  9. Yes...the scene with Tony Shalhoub was truly a gem...Mr. Marshall's career was filled with priceless gems that will continue to sparkle in the midst of so many dark and relentlessly violent modern day themes. And, those lucky enough to have been part of his life are blessed with a legacy of endless warm memories to cherish.

  10. Sheldon Leonard also became a major producer.

  11. I'd recommend Nothing in Common to anyone. It's a fine film, and it most certainly is not sentimental. Jackie Gleason gives a truly fine performance.

  12. As someone who was born in Milwaukee, thanks to Gary Marshall for putting the city on the map. Fonzie is still one of my favorite tv characters of all time.......aaaaaaaaay.......RIP Mr. Marshall.

  13. Mr. Marshall,

    Thank you for relaxing evenings to enjoy and laugh after a hard working day. Your creativity will be missed but your creations will go on forever.

  14. A very fond memory: I took my aged mother to "the picture show" - as she always called it - to see Pretty Woman. When it was over, she couldn't get up because of her arthritis and she said, "Gee, a movie like that makes you completely forget you're 80 years old!" Wasn't that a great gift! I have followed the Marshall shooting stars over the years, as I knew Ronny Marshall long ago when she was my pledge mother at Northwestern U., another fond memory for me. Ronny, I send my condolences to you & your family on this great loss. What a great mind & heart Garry Marshall shared with all of us.
    (Judy Moore)

  15. And then there's BIG -- a wonderful Hollywood movie with Tom Hanks.

    When I was a kid in the 1970s, Garry Marshall's name was everywhere. He truly contributed to pop culture.

  16. BIG was a wonderful Hollywood movie.

    Directed by PENNY Marshall, not Garry.

    But I'm sure she wouldn't mind the mistake today of all days.

  17. Penny Marshall directed that... same thing!

  18. I grew up on The Odd Couple, Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley. Whenever I heard Mr. Marshall interviewed, he always came off as a great guy. Such a wonderful life of entertaining people. May he rest in peace.

  19. I had the incredible pleasure of working with him twice and know several people who are extremely close to him. I am not exaggerating when I say this... I have never met a better person in Hollywood. It was always, "life first, showbiz later." I can't tell you how much that is NOT the norm here. Including with yours truly. We are always chasing the next job. Garry chased the next act of good will.

  20. They don't make 'em like Garry Marshall anymore. He gave us the precious gifts of laughter and poignant looks at life. He will be missed.

    Thanks Garry.

  21. Garry,

    Thanks for gettting me to laugh even on tough days. May you rest in peace but with a smile as well.

  22. In addition to his legacy of creations, he was a damn good actor.

    His performances in "Lost In America" and Louis CK's series are among my favorites by anyone in anything.

  23. I always enjoyed "Pretty Woman" as my late extremely wealthy great uncle fell in love with and married a gal from a house of ill. No children, as she couldn't bear, but they lived happily ever after. He left a ton of money to the church, his estate was split in half, with half going to the church, them it was split and split, finally making it down to great neices and nephews. I received a check for $2K in 1980 from a man whom I had only met once. I knew him as a man in a wheel chair, always a bow tie, and bent over the WSJ.

  24. Should say, "Gary Marshall, producer of Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley" dies. Pretty Woman has nothing on HD and LAS. How many times have you watched Pretty Woman? How many times have you watched HD and LAS? I couldn't even begin to count. From HD I learned that banging on a wall with girls next door is you how you date. Plus, the term, "jumping the shark." Isn't that from Pretty Woman? I rest my case! If I could only be more like Fonzy life would be so much easier.

  25. Making us laugh and taking our minds off our daily issues is much more valuable than generating knots in our stomachs and shattering our eardrums with explosions and sonic booms. Thank You (!) Gary Marshall for repeatedly making me laugh (with my sisters no less, together in the 70's in front of the television: No small feat) and for warming our hearts repeatedly via our obsession with your movies, too.

  26. When the Republican convention is above the fold and a short obituary to Gary Marshall far down the list of today's stories...........well, that tells me something. We highlight political nonsense while one of the "kings" of comedy has passed away. A wholesome addition to the history of this nation with a very large body of work, Gary brought an emphasis on humor and love to all of us. Rest in peace.

  27. Loved everything he did - I seem to recall him saying, in an interview while explaining Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley, that "In the school of life, I am recess." Hope I'm attributing this correctly.

  28. Wadda Guy, RIP.

  29. Amen! Always seemed like one of the nice guys who finished first. . . In additional to everything already mentioned in these comments, I will also love him forever for the "Odd Couple" TV series. . . Remember when Garry and another actress (maybe another sister) showed up as the siblings of Myrna Turner (Oscar's secretary, played by Penny Marshall)? Myrna introduced them as "my sister Verna Turner and my brother Werner Turner." Absolutely hysterical.

  30. I have enjoyed your movies and television shows and the joy you've given to millions of people worldwide. My condolences to your family and friends, rest in peace Mr. Marshall.

  31. I am going to miss this kind soul.

    Like he always said 'it's a Garry Marshall movie, every one gets a happy ending'

    Thanks for the memories sir, you defined my life in more ways than you can imagine.

  32. "Lost in America" is one of the funniest movies you will ever see, in no small part due to Garry Marshall's hysterical turn as the casino manager. If you see only the scene referred to in this piece and nothing else in the movie, your money and time will be well spent.

  33. The loss of a true genius. I hope the man behind "Happy Days" wasn't afflicted by Chachi's greatness at the RNC.

  34. Anyone interviewed who worked with him always said the same thing: A very kind and funny man. There can be no higher praise.

  35. Odd headline. Mr. Marshall's accomplishments as the creator of "Happy Days" and "Laverne and Shirley" and the TV version of "The Odd Couple" certainly had more of an impact on popular culture than directing "Pretty Woman."

  36. Gary Marshall was a master at creating shows and movies that were made for the whole family to enjoy!!! Thank God for reruns - it is wonderful to watch his shows over and over again when this country stood for high family values.

    Thank you, Gary, for providing us with good wholesome entertainment. Rest in peace.

  37. My first job in television was as a runner for Garry when he came to New York to shoot exteriors for the upcoming Odd Couple season. Garry was funny, gracious, encouraging and very respected. What you saw was what you got, a wonderful man. RIP Garry.

  38. I keep a very expensive bottle of liquor--what I call the Milestone Bottle-- in the high cupboard, and I sip from it and write on it when there is a significant birthday, anniversary, or passing. It has Bowie's name on it, and George Martin's. I drank from it on Beverly Cleary's 100th birthday. I will drink from it and add another name tonight. They don't make them like Mr. Marshall anymore, and he has been an enormous influence in my life. Thanks for telling it like it should be, Garry.

    (And Murray Greenberg is right--"Lost in America" is sublime comedy.)

  39. Those were the days, my friend.

  40. Thanks to Mr. Marshall for all those years of laughter. The best thing about his productions is that they didn't try to get laughs with swear words or dissing others. His brand of humor was so good for the world. Where is the next Garry Marshall? The world needs you.

  41. I knew Garry at Northwestern. He was already funny and a great guy -- the best then, and he kept getting better. Life was simply more fun with Garry around, which I guess is pretty much his epitaph.

    The obit mentions that Garry's mother Marjorie was a dance teacher. He told us he grew up upstairs from her basement studio in the Bronx. Years later, when he had made it big in Hollywood, Garry and his sisters funded the Marjorie Ward Marshall Dance Studio at Northwestern, which thrives to this day as an enduring tribute to his mother.

  42. What can one say. What a legacy. He left us nostalgic for nostalgia. Thanks to him I can pine for the fifties and the sixties America that I never experienced!

  43. Mr. Marshall was a prolific original who brought us all decades of laughter and joy. Many thanks to him and to his family for the creative contributions he made to American culture. So sorry to see him go so soon. He will be greatly missed. RIP Garry.

  44. Such a loss.... He made us laugh, he had great instincts, he worked with so many talented actors who learned so much from him. Rest in peace and
    Thanks for all the laughs.

  45. There must be a place in heaven for wonderful people like Garry Marshall.
    Rest in peace....and thank you.

  46. My heart goes out to his family. He was the definition of a mensch.

  47. I echo the above. May his memory be a blessing.

  48. He was also in Goldfinger with Sean Connery. He was one of the gangsters killed by Goldfinger just before they crushed the car.

  49. Great guy! Great work! Left us too soon and before all of his life's work was completed. Sad we've lost him.

  50. Condolences to his awesome sister Penny, his equal in talent and humor.

  51. Let me add one more memory of Mr. Marshall's exceptional acting chops and comic timing from just a few years ago that ranks with anything he did earlier in his career. In "Louie" Season 3 Episode 10 he plays the head of the studio offering comfortable but not yet in the big time comic Louie a chance to take David Letterman's job. Marshall seems to channel everything he knows about the lure of showbusiness; what it can do for you and how it can break your heart into this powerful scene. See

  52. Brilliant casting in that episode of Louie. What made it so unnerving was that he played against type as such a diabolical character.

  53. "Please, call me Garry."

  54. It's interesting to note that cable television is rerunning all of Mr. Marshall's popular shows. I loved them but have no intention of watching them again. In the 1990s I went to Greece for a convention and laughed at the old American game and comedy shows they ran on television. Little did I know that American television would stop investing in actual family entertainment like that Mr. Marshall loved and would ram reruns down our throat instead. Let's hope some BIG democracy-loving money masters will start investing in real entertainment again like that which Mr. Marshall provided instead of the hate, anger, fear, gun, war violence they support today.

  55. I grew up enjoying Garry Marshall TV, but was never comfortable with the idea of Pretty Woman as Hollywood sexist damsel in distress drivel with likeable characters. RIP, though. He entertained us for a long time

  56. It is always sad for the rest of us when a national treasure dies, but what a great life he led. He leaves a lasting celluloid legacy of warm, fuzzy, happy laughter. RIP, and thanks for all the memories.

  57. No one has mentioned Mr. Marshall's role in Murphy Brown as the ruthless micro-managing network president. Hilarious! His comeback to the staff, "What are you? Raised by wolves?" - unforgettable.

  58. Also, remember when Murphy accidently knocked down his meticulously placed line up for the next season? All the shows ended up being placed back on the board randomly. Marshall proclaimed "Brilliant".

  59. Pretty Woman is more My Fair Lady (Pygmalion) than Cinderella.

  60. I can watch Overboard and Pretty Woman and Runaway Bride whenever they are on TV and never get tired of those movies. I'm going to have to find some Laverne & Shirley re-runs to watch! RIP Mr. Marshall.

  61. “In that movie, Santy Claus took care of everything,” he says in the film. “There was Macy’s, Gimbel’s, but Santy Claus came and fixed the whole thing. We don’t have Santy Claus.”

    Excellent and thorough tribute to a great artist. Including Marshall's work in "Lost in America" is essential for a true fan. Such a quick scene, but so memorable and funny. Albert Brooks and Gary Marshall together. "The Dessert Inn has heart..." "Santy Claus" friends and I still bat around quotes from that scene, the whole movie.

    RIP Gary Marshall...thank you for the TV of my youth...and excellent, funny work in my adulthood. You will be missed.

  62. “When Disney first sent me the script for Pretty Woman, it was a dark tale about a cold and heartless corporate raider and a drug-addicted prostitute who had been hooking for six years. The relationship ended with the raider’s giving the prostitute three thousand dollars and knocking her to the ground. Vivian then screamed, ‘You go to hell! I hate you! I hate your money! I hate it! as he drove away leaving her in the gutter where he found her….What bothered me about the script was that it didn’t make me care about either of the characters. Neither of them generated much sympathy and I rooted for no one.”
    Garry Marshall

    th books author sued for butchering his story

  63. "Happy Days" and "Laverne and Shirley" gave me as a child of the 70s a taste of 50s culture and a deeper understanding of the kind of world my dad came from. They were also shows we could all watch together as a family and are among my favorite childhood memories. There was nothing as warming, enlightening, and bonding as experiencing my dad's wholehearted laughing during those hours.

    Thank you, Mr. Marshall, and Godspeed as you journey the cosmos.

  64. There will never be a decade again like the 1970's when it comes to TV sitcoms. Gary Marshall provided the escapist, fun entertainment while Norman Lear gave us the social commentary with a laugh. Both were equally enjoyed by millions. This was also before the fragmentation of entertainment brought on by cable, which you could argue has played a role in the overall divisiveness in our society today. In those days, you went to school or work the next day and everyone, literally everyone, watched the same thing the previous night and talked about it.

  65. I feel like a great light and energy has gone out of the world and am deeply saddened by Garry Marshall's passing. I grew up watching his shows, fell in love with many of his movies and enjoyed every appearance he made in a TV show or movie that I was lucky enough to see. He was and always will be one of the great creative people of our time.
    My thoughts are with his family. He was always just as he seemed: real, kind, loving and joyful. Thanks for a lifetime of wonderful entertainment and laughs.

  66. Also look for Marshall in the iconic movie GOLDFINGER. He plays one of the hoods in the map-room and his voice is distinctive enough to pick out even if you don't visually spot the youthful man.

  67. I had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with Garry Marshall when I worked at Northwestern. He was one of the kindest menschiest guy I ever had the pleasure of working with. He was unfailingly kind, polite and gracious. He regaled me with stories of his life, his family and gave me great advice on family and parenting. It was very memorable to say the least!

  68. I have spent many, many happy hours watching Mr. Marshall's shows on TV, some of which are timeless. Funny, I never went to see any of his movies at the theatre.

    You know, for the most part his shows were wholesome, amusing, and had a kernel of shared truth.

    Thank you, Mr. Marshall, and condolences to his family and colleagues.

  69. Some of the best sitcoms ever. I used to be addicted to the Odd Couple which was one of the few adaptations that grew to be better than the movie.

    If you have never seen it, make an effort to see Overboard. Totally hilarious and we see Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell actually act.

    But the amazing thing is how diverse his creations were. What a genius!

  70. Rest in peace, Mr. Marshall; you brought so much joy to so many, may your memory be as a blessing.

  71. Thanks for the many laughs and wholesome sitcoms.
    Rest in Peace

  72. "Happy Days" is a "fondly nostalgic parody of middle-American life in the 1950s and early 60s?" Parody? Not really, unless you think every sitcom is a parody of real life.

  73. The world just got a little less funny.

  74. Garry Marshall played the editor of a newspaper in the movie, "Never Been Kissed", and was a hilarious, scene-stealing delight. In all of his work, it's easy to see how he loved, appreciated and respected women. His women characters are strong, funny and capable of taking care of themselves. I will miss him so much!

  75. Speaking of scene stealing, remember his scenes as the boss in Murphy Brown? He could not be in a scene without "stealing it".

  76. I grew up on your sitcoms but you will always be the delightfully opportunistic TV executive in 'Soap Dish' to me.

    Thank you for the laughs, you will be missed.

  77. I've grew up watching Mr. Marshall's shows as a kid in the 70's without (of course) really knowing, or caring, who brought them to TV. Now I can see the similarities and the honest and decent humanity that ran through each. No swearing or toilet humor or constant sexual innuendo that permeates today's programs. At the time, Happy Days was a favorite and one we always talked about the next day at school. I still have a great fondness for The Odd Couple and watch it weekly on one of the 'old TV" show channels. Seeing Garry Marshall in the credits makes me understand how it came about and appreciate it just a little bit more.

    I never met you sir but would have liked to, as I'm sure many of the fans of your shows are thinking today. Thank you, for helping us laugh and doing what you believed in, while displaying grace and showing kindness to others along the way.

  78. What a talented man. And we all enjoyed his work.

  79. Mr Marshall kept doing what he loved doing till he died. I saw his final film 'Mother's Day' and laughed all the way through. But what touched me about the film was its joyful advocacy of all types of parenting especially for LGBTI families. I felt the film was very underrated in this respect.

  80. Mr. Marshall had many triumphs, both on television and in the movies, but I just want to take special time out to recognize him for creating one of the funniest tv shows ever, "The Odd Couple"- for me that was the zenith of a brilliant career. We can never thank him enough.

  81. Thank Neil Simon.

  82. Mr. Marshall made me laugh- a lot. You cannot get better than that.
    Laverne and Shirley, Odd Couple and many appearances in various other shows.
    Just saw Overboard again last month, 2x. Thank you for the laughs. Regards to Mr. Marshall's family.

  83. one of my favorite movies is marshall's "flamingo kid"......they should have included that in his list.....wonderful movie

  84. Sorry, but most of his "hits" seem trite and dated. Strictly for the rubes.

  85. "Happy Days" and "Laverne & Shirley" were supposed to be "dated." The episodes took place in the 1950's..early 1960's.

  86. When you watched a Garry Marshall production, you always knew you would have a smile on your face at the end.

    In each of Mr. Marshall's endeavors, the underlying sweetness is a welcome constant. So much warmth, and so much affection, between the characters and actors portraying them. For me, the truest example was The Odd Couple, on which Mr. Marshall's thumbprints were exceptionally visible. So many witty plots and asides, which far too few have seen fit to emulate lately.

    Thank you, sir, for providing so much enjoyment and humanity.

  87. Loved his work. You left out his bit part in "A League of Their Own". RIP and thanks for all of the laughs.

  88. He gave me a lot of joy growing up. Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley are synonymous with my childhood in my mind. Schlemiel schlemazel ...

  89. Has there ever been a more influential brother and sister combination in Hollywood than Garry and Penny Marshall? So much of what they do is behind the scenes, but TV and movies simply don't happen without such people. It's why I always stay til the credits are done. Without them the stars fizzle out.

  90. @Stevenz in Auckland wrote: Has there ever been a more influential brother and sister combination in Hollywood than Garry and Penny Marshall?

    In TV, yes.

    But Hollywood in general, what about Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine?

  91. Wow - When I heard of Mr. Marshall's death, I also immediately thought of that scene in "Lost in America" where he plays the flabbergasted casino owner with Albert Brooks trying to get back the money his wife (Julie Haggarty) has lost. Funniest scene in an extremely funny movie.

    As for the TV Shows he created, the early seasons of both "The Odd Couple" and "Happy Days" stand the test of the time. I think Mr. Marshall was sometimes the victim of his own success, however, as some of his shows lasted well past their comedy prime after 3 or 4 seasons, but stayed because they were so popular. Watch some of the early seasons if you get the chance and you'll be surprised how fresh and funny the shows remain.

  92. Never met him ,but i worked on the film "Valentines Day" replacing a temp music cue with my own. I still have the note saying "You nailed it"
    What a talent

  93. WOW! Thank you for all the joyous moments and your special Midas touch with humanity.