When Penny Marshall died on Dec. 17, the onslaught of obituaries sought to highlight her career and significance in Hollywood, with her directorial work celebrated for good reason. With hits such as Big and A League of Their Own, she was one of the first bankable female directors in the business, a comedic talent who obviously knew how to get the best out of her actors.
But for most, Marshall will always be Laverne DeFazio, the smartass, sexy, no-frills Milwaukee gal and bestie/roomie to the sweet, slightly neurotic Boo-Boo Kitty–cuddling Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams). Debuting in 1976, Laverne & Shirley lasted until 1983, and it was a huge hit throughout its run thanks to its strong female leads and the unvarnished depiction of friendship that rang true both emotionally and comedically.
Though Laverne & Shirley was set in the late 1950s and early ’60s, it was filmed in the mid-’70s and early ’80s, and it depicted single women in a very real way — two gals living on their own, dating on their own terms, living working-class lives. The wacky situations recalled Lucy and Ethel at their silliest, and the supporting cast was on point — especially Lenny and Squiggy!
If you missed the Logo channel's all-day Laverne & Shirley marathon last month, you'll have another chance to immerse yourself in Marshall's brilliance on Sunday, Jan. 27, at the Garry Marshall Theatre. Her brother's namesake space is hosting its own marathon featuring 12 hours of the show from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. And guess who's set to appear? Her girl Shirley. Yes, Cindy Williams will be there, and if she doesn't recite the show's famous intro (see clips below), we will be very surprised.
Looks like the marathon will even include an episode set right in our fair city (remember when the gals moved from Milwaukee to Hollywood? If not, see the second clip below, complete with Hollywood Sign backdrop). Of course, Marshall and Williams were first seen on Happy Days, produced by Garry Marshall, which, as with Robin Williams' appearance as alien Mork, led to the hit spinoff series. Laverne was the love interest for the Fonz in that one, and she was just as cool and uncensored as he was. She was kind of the original punk chick in this way, and a lot of us, especially Gen-X gals, wanted to be just like her, drinking milk and Pepsi and wearing an “L” on our sweaters to prove it.
Below a listing of some of the episodes to be screened at the Marshall Theatre on Sunday. They were said to be Penny Marshall's favorites.
“Fakeout at the Stakeout” — Episode 11
Laverne goes undercover as a decoy to help catch a thief, as the Milwaukee Police Department has no female officers. Bo Kaprall played Officer Norman Hughes, who would turn up in a handful of later episodes.
“Drive! She Said” — Episode 16
In the season-two premiere, Shirley has her eye on a $200 car (a 1952 Hudson Wasp convertible) owned by one of Carmine's pals. Only she's a little short of cash and needs Laverne to pony up half the cost. One catch — Laverne can't really drive.
“Angels of Mercy” — Episode 17
Shirley talks Laverne into joining her at the hospital as a volunteer worker. But the two are truly looking for love, as Shirley angles for a doctor and Laverne crushes on a neighbor, Jerry (Charles Frank), undergoing knee surgery.
“Excuse Me, May I Cut in?” — Episode 19
A visit from the Happy Days boys! The girls get Richie and Potsie as partners for a dance contest in this crossover episode. This also marked the first appearance of Betty Garrett as Edna Babish, the girls' landlady.
“Bridal Shower” — Episode 20
The girls receive an invitation to the wedding shower of Elinor Stephanick, the third-to-last unmarried member of their high school sorority. Old high school beefs make for one unpredictable shower.
“Dear Future Model” — Episode 22
The girls meet a model at the pizza joint. She's pretentious but earning $60 per hour. So Laverne and Shirley enroll in the Famous Academy of American Modeling by Mail — at a mere $7.50 a pop — and end up posing for “Lovely Lady Lingerie.”
“Guilty Until Proven Not Innocent” — Episode 26
Laverne accidentally stuffs a $75 scarf into her purse at an expensive clothing boutique. The theft lands her behind bars — with the bail set at $500!
“Guinea Pigs” — Episode 29
The girls need money, as usual, this time for a businessmen's cocktail party with a $20 entry fee. To get the cash, the two volunteer as paid subjects in scientific experiments at the Institute of Behavioral Sciences. Laverne enters a sleep study; Shirley, a nutrition study. Harry Shearer guest stars, teaming up with his future Spinal Tap band member Michael McKean (Lenny).
“Call Me a Taxi” — Episode 30
Shotz Brewery lays off the bottlers for three weeks, so the girls find work as taxi dancers (a paid dance partner in a dance hall). The fee? A skimpy 10 cents per dance.
“Steppin' Out” — Episode 31
Laverne and Shirley have a big date and want to look their best. A raging fire across the street has other plans.
“Airport '59” — Episode 39
In the season-three premiere, Laverne and Shirley win the Shotz lottery and tickets to see the Packers play the Colts in Baltimore. This mean the first ever airplane ride for Laverne. Unfortunately, the pilot passes out, meaning one of them will have to take the controls!
“Supermarket Sweep” — Episode 79
Much like the Supermarket Sweep game show of the 1960s and 1990s, this episode centers around Laverne winning a manic grab-all in a grocery store. How much food can one possible fit into a cart — and a sweatsuit, for that matter?
The Laverne & Shirley Marathon, at the Garry Marshall Theatre, 4252 W. Riverside Drive, Burbank.
Sun., Jan. 27, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; free. (818) 955-8101, garrymarshalltheatre.org