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Penny Marshall gave girls like me permission to dream

It's sad when someone you grew up with dies -- even if it's a fictional character.In 1976, I was a 6-...

Posted: Dec 19, 2018 5:53 PM
Updated: Dec 19, 2018 5:53 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."

Celebrities

Penny Marshall

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.

Confirmed Cases: 36680

Reported Deaths: 1250
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds304154
DeSoto200920
Madison150839
Jones123149
Harrison118316
Rankin113719
Neshoba104577
Forrest104343
Lauderdale97281
Scott83115
Jackson80419
Washington75313
Copiah67516
Leake63520
Lee63022
Grenada6259
Oktibbeha62328
Warren60021
Holmes59841
Lamar5847
Wayne56819
Yazoo5667
Lowndes54917
Leflore53956
Lincoln53835
Pike51120
Lafayette5094
Sunflower5058
Panola4616
Monroe46036
Simpson4533
Covington4505
Bolivar41618
Tate39513
Attala38624
Newton37710
Adams36720
Pontotoc3636
Marion34912
Claiborne31511
Pearl River30832
Chickasaw30219
Winston30211
Marshall2973
Jasper2826
Noxubee2799
Walthall2748
Clay26211
Smith25612
Union25612
Coahoma2356
Clarke22825
Lawrence2162
Yalobusha2089
Tallahatchie1974
Montgomery1863
Kemper18414
Carroll18311
Humphreys17410
Calhoun1705
Hancock15213
Itawamba1478
Tippah14711
Jefferson1373
Webster13511
Prentiss1274
Tunica1263
George1253
Jefferson Davis1254
Greene11610
Alcorn1112
Amite1113
Tishomingo1091
Quitman1011
Wilkinson1019
Perry914
Stone772
Choctaw764
Franklin572
Sharkey480
Benton470
Issaquena111
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 54768

Reported Deaths: 1096
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson7012170
Mobile5061140
Montgomery4599112
Tuscaloosa274353
Madison25359
Marshall205012
Shelby176425
Lee164737
Morgan13975
Baldwin134111
Walker111332
Elmore107622
Etowah106914
Dallas10189
DeKalb10017
Franklin95016
Unassigned77728
Autauga71515
Russell7130
Chambers68530
Cullman6686
Limestone6653
Butler65529
Houston6417
Tallapoosa63069
Lauderdale6006
St. Clair5983
Calhoun5545
Colbert5286
Escambia5128
Lowndes49222
Pike4805
Jackson4422
Coffee4364
Covington43512
Talladega4177
Dale4061
Barbour4022
Bullock37810
Hale36323
Marengo36111
Chilton3452
Blount3311
Clarke3236
Wilcox3158
Marion30914
Winston3095
Sumter29713
Pickens2786
Randolph2759
Monroe2683
Perry2552
Conecuh2388
Bibb2271
Macon2229
Choctaw22012
Greene2009
Henry1573
Washington1529
Lawrence1460
Crenshaw1343
Cherokee1317
Geneva1010
Fayette901
Clay892
Lamar891
Coosa671
Cleburne481
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