Garry Marshall, the beloved comedy legend who created TV hits like Happy Days and Mork and Mindy, and directed box office smashes like Beaches, Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries, has died from complications of pneumonia following a stroke at a hospital in Burbank, California. He was 81.
A representative for Marshall confirmed his death to Rolling Stone. In a statement, Marshall’s family said his funeral service would be private, but a memorial service is being planned for his birthday, November 13th.
Born in the Bronx in 1934, Marshall began his storied career in comedy as a joke writer for other comedians, eventually earning a gig on Jack Paar’s Tonight Show. In the early Sixties, Marshall moved to Hollywood where he partnered with Jerry Belson and worked on a variety of shows starring comedy legends like Joey Bishop, Dick Van Dyke and Lucille Ball.
In 1966, Marshall and Bishop unveiled their first original series, Hey, Landlord, but the show only lasted one season. Four years later, however, the pair scored a huge hit with their adaptation of Neil Simon’s play, The Odd Couple.
Starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman, The Odd Couple ran for five seasons and marked the beginning of Marshall’s television dominance throughout the Seventies. In 1974, Happy Days debuted, followed two years later by Laverne and Shirley (co-starring Marshall’s sister, Penny) and then in 1978, Mork and Mindy, which helped launch the career of Robin Williams.
In 1982, Marshall made the jump to film, directing his first feature, Young Doctors in Love. Over the years, Marshall proved to be a master at the romantic comedy with films like Frankie and Johnny, Pretty Woman and Runaway Bride. He also scored hits with Beaches and the two Princess Diaries films. Marshall’s final three movies, Valentine’s Day (2010), New Year’s Eve (2011) and Mother’s Day (2016) all featured all-star ensemble casts and interweaving storylines that centered around their titular holidays.
While Marshall was best known as a writer, director and producer, he maintained an on-screen presence throughout his career. Perhaps fittingly, his last television appearance came this April when he guest starred on CBS’ reboot of The Odd Couple, playing the father of Matthew Perry’s Oscar Madison.