Penny Marshall discusses 'Big' success

Director and actress Penny Marshall talks about the unlikely success of her movie "Big" with Soledad O'Brien.

Posted: Dec 19, 2018 11:57 AM
Updated: Dec 19, 2018 12:20 PM

It's sad when someone you grew up with dies -- even if it's a fictional character.

In 1976, I was a 6-foot-tall, 13-year-old girl growing up in suburban New Jersey. I was addicted to sitcoms. It was my escape from the realities of not fitting in (in more ways than one), and I had spent much of my single digit years dreaming of running away to "The Brady Bunch" house, riding in "The Partridge Family" bus and hanging out with Mary and Rhoda on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

At the start of my freshman year of high school, a new show came on the air. It was about Laverne DeFazio, played by the inimitable Penny Marshall, and Shirley Feeney, portrayed by Cindy Williams -- two single women living together, working at Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee and doin' it their way. And the show's ubiquitous theme song had people all over America speaking Yiddish!

Give us any chance -- we'll take it. Read us any rule, we'll break it went the lyrics of the show's theme song.

These women, Laverne and Shirley, were fearless. Finally, here on television were people I could relate to.

Laverne had a thick Bronx accent and wore sweaters with the letter L monogrammed prominently in script on the front. She was bossy, brash and funny, and best of all, she did things her way. We had so much in common. One can never underestimate the power of feeling represented on television.

Nothin's gonna turn us back now, straight ahead and on the track now. ...There is nothing we won't try. Never heard the word impossible. This time there's no stopping us. We're gonna do it.

Not to mention how special the main characters' relationship on "Laverne & Shirley" was. Best friends forever. I could see myself living in an apartment with my best friend, too! In season six, Laverne and Shirley moved to California to fulfill their dreams of being in the movie business. I was in college and had done my first stand-up gig on a dare. I knew by then that my dream too was to be in show business. All of their friends follow suit, and the show lasted three more seasons after that. Was this a harbinger of what was to become of Marshall?

She went on to become one of the most relevant directors in Hollywood. With the 1988 movie "Big," starring Tom Hanks, she became the first woman to direct a film that grossed more than $100 million. She went on to direct perhaps the best "chick flick" of all time, "A League of Their Own" -- and so many more. She became an icon and gave so many female directors hope and an example to follow. Even when she became a household name, she never changed the way she talked or the way she looked. She was the embodiment of being true to oneself. There is no comedy without truth. And she had impeccable timing.

On your mark, get set and go now, Got a dream and we just know now, We're gonna make our dream come true.

But the best part was that we got to know the real woman in that monogrammed sweater, and what a mark she left. The same woman whose stand-in for a shampoo commercial she was shooting with Farrah Fawcett wore a placard that read "Homely Girl."

Penny Marshall was beautiful. She was an unapologetic tomboy. She was in a league of her own. She gave girls like me permission to dream. I hope she knew how many people she made happy -- doin' it her way. May she rest in peace.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 268672

Reported Deaths: 5917
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17928195
Hinds17030337
Harrison14510212
Rankin11315223
Jackson11054193
Lee9109147
Madison8663171
Jones6853120
Forrest6260125
Lauderdale6161196
Lowndes5582123
Lafayette5269101
Lamar508765
Washington4965125
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Oktibbeha411585
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Pontotoc380460
Monroe3727111
Warren3716103
Marshall360172
Union360165
Pearl River3527106
Neshoba3516158
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Lincoln308389
Hancock300963
Sunflower294277
Tate281862
Alcorn274055
Pike272984
Itawamba271263
Scott264055
Yazoo258456
Prentiss255454
Coahoma252455
Copiah251549
Tippah251551
Simpson244872
Leake238967
Marion228274
Covington224873
Grenada224673
Wayne216336
Adams216271
Winston208271
George206440
Newton201447
Attala197465
Tishomingo196361
Chickasaw190245
Jasper183138
Holmes172568
Clay168637
Tallahatchie158035
Stone153625
Clarke148762
Calhoun142022
Smith131926
Yalobusha124935
Walthall115438
Greene114929
Noxubee114526
Montgomery112936
Lawrence107917
Carroll106922
Perry105931
Amite102727
Webster98024
Claiborne90125
Tunica89621
Jefferson Davis89330
Benton86923
Humphreys85625
Kemper81220
Quitman7169
Franklin71017
Choctaw64013
Wilkinson60125
Jefferson57321
Sharkey45717
Issaquena1616
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 445909

Reported Deaths: 6896
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson651891049
Mobile32138590
Madison28596223
Tuscaloosa21703276
Montgomery20220336
Shelby19584138
Baldwin17496216
Lee13378109
Morgan12741145
Etowah12196189
Calhoun11626228
Marshall10513126
Houston9097168
Limestone842481
Cullman8363125
Elmore8283112
Lauderdale7986112
DeKalb7935112
St. Clair7915139
Talladega6552112
Walker6068184
Jackson605649
Colbert560194
Blount551794
Autauga544065
Coffee470569
Dale415186
Franklin378150
Russell362816
Chilton348079
Covington344681
Escambia342244
Tallapoosa3184109
Dallas314197
Chambers308575
Clarke307339
Pike267735
Lawrence256958
Marion255763
Winston235243
Bibb224751
Geneva214747
Marengo212031
Pickens201831
Barbour188240
Hale187444
Fayette181230
Butler175960
Cherokee167433
Henry161325
Monroe153521
Randolph148236
Washington144027
Clay131050
Crenshaw126245
Macon124337
Cleburne123627
Lamar121324
Lowndes117636
Wilcox109422
Bullock105829
Perry100518
Conecuh98222
Sumter90828
Greene78323
Coosa64619
Choctaw52224
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