Garry Marshall: Remembering the Beloved Director and Actor
Whether you’ve seen “Pretty Woman” or reruns of “Happy Days,” you’re likely familiar with the works of Garry Marshall. On July 19th, 2016, millions of people hung their heads sadly upon hearing about his death. Those who didn’t recognize his face or immediately soon realized that a man who’d directed, written or acted in one of their favorite films or television shows had passed too soon.
Born Garry Masciarelli in the Bronx, Marshall was born into a family of artists. His mother was a tap dance teacher while his father was an industrial film director. He was raised around artistry, as were his two sisters Penny and Ronny (an actress/director and television producer respectively). Marshall studies journalism at Northwestern University after high school and found a career writing for the campus newspaper.
Marshall started acting as a child. His first true role was in “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show,” where he had a recurring role throughout the show’s run.
From here, Marshall became a joke writer for popular comedians and even Jack Paar, then the host of “The Tonight Show.” After moving to Hollywood, Marshall found success with friend and writer Jerry Belson. The duo worked on writing work for hit sitcoms like “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Lucy Show.” Despite this success, Marshall longed to be a creator, which led the two to co-create a one season sitcom entitled “Hey, Landlord.”
His first true creator success came with his adaptation of the Neil Simon play “The Odd Couple” in 1970. The show lasted for five seasons with 114 episodes, and is still considered a critical success to this day. TV Guide’s “TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time,” two episodes made the cut. “The Odd Couple” also received three Emmy Award nominations during its run.
Post-“The Odd Couple” Success
Because “The Odd Couple” was such a success, Marshall went on to create and write for sitcoms on his own, such as “Happy Days” and “Laverne and Shirley.” Marshall also created the hit sitcom that brought famed deceased comedian Robin Williams to light, “Mork & Mindy.”
Marshall met hit best friend, actor Hector Elizondo, in the early 1980’s. The friendship the two men developed was so profound, Marshall included him in every film he would go on to direct. This included his first feature film, “Young Doctors in Love,” and “Exit to Eden.”
As a director, Garry Marshall has more than a few iconic films under his belt. A few include:
- “Beaches” – Starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey, the tale of two female friends who bond and stay connected even through amazing odds. The film is perhaps most well-known for the song “Wind Beneath My Wings.” It won both the Grammy for Record and Song of the Year in 1990.
- “Pretty Woman” – This iconic film stars both Julia Roberts and Richard Gere playing a prostitute and wealthy businessman (respectively) who connect and develop a relationship. The film received mixed reviews but is still considered the source of Julia Robert’s best acting work.
- “Exit to Eden” – Starring Rosie O’Donnell and Dan Aykroyd, “Eden” focuses on a resort run by a dominatrix, jewel thieves and a photographer obsessed with BDSM.
- “Runaway Bride” – Marshall attempted to recreate the success of “Pretty Woman” by again pairing Roberts and Gere in a romantic comedy. The reviews were again mixed, but this film remains a romcom staple.
- “The Princess Diaries” – This adaptation of Meg Cabot’s hit young adult book series was an amazing critical success and also brought to light the acting talents of Anne Hathaway.
It’s evident that Garry Marshall’s talents spanned both genres and decades. His last film, “Mother’s Day” was only just released earlier in 2016. The world looked forward to more films directed by the brilliant man, but for now we’re glad to be left with our Garry Marshall DVD collections.