This is the story of a brilliant and highly successful lady who thought that she was stupid, incompetent and unattractive. Penny Marshall was an outstanding actress, director and producer. In the 1970s, she received three nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series Musical or Comedy for playing Laverne DeFazio in the sitcom Laverne & Shirley. In the 1980s and 1990s, she became the first woman to direct films that grossed more than $100 million (Big in 1988 and A League of Their Own in 1992). Her 1990 film, Awakenings, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. She also became a very successful television director and was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
She broke just about every rule for healthful living and died at the young age of 75, on December 17, 2018, from “complications of diabetes.” In her TV sitcoms Marshall appeared very slim, but over the years behind the camera she became obese. She did not exercise, smoked heavily and took a variety of drugs. She admitted to Matt Lauer on the Today Show that she had used cocaine, marijuana and Quaaludes in the past and at age 55, she checked into a substance-abuse program for addiction to prescription drugs.
A Life in Show Business
She was born Carole Penny Marshall in 1943 in the Bronx to a mother who was a tap-dance teacher and a father who was an industrial film director and producer. Her older brother, Garry, became a comedy writer and her sister Ronny became a casting director and producer. Marshall’s performing career started at age three in tap dance recitals, but she grew to be a tomboy who would have preferred to be out in the streets playing ball with the boys. She said she hated dance lessons, yet the constant performances did give her confidence and a sense that she was able to entertain people.
She was a very mediocre student in high school and ended up at the University of New Mexico where at age 19 she became pregnant with her daughter, Tracy. She left college to marry the football-playing father, Michael Henry, but they divorced three years later. At age 24, she moved to Los Angeles to be with her brother Garry, who was thriving as a script writer for The Dick Van Dyke Show. Penny’s first TV job, a shampoo commercial, made her feel even more insecure about herself. Farrah Fawcett played the beautiful girl with beautiful hair, while Penny Marshall was the “homely” girl whose hair was drab because she did not use that shampoo.
Her brother became the producer of the wildly successful television series The Odd Couple, and he helped Penny get the part of Oscar’s secretary, Myrna. At age 28, she married another member of the cast, Rob Reiner, who played her boyfriend Sheldon. In her last appearance on The Odd Couple, Myrna married Sheldon. Their real-life marriage ended ten years later. Rob Reiner became best known as Michael “Meathead” Stivic, the son-in-law of Archie and Edith Bunker on All in the Family.
Her Longest-Lasting Relationship
In her late thirties, Marshall was in a short relationship with singer Art Garfunkel of the famous singing duo, Simon and Garfunkel. Paul Simon introduced Marshall to his wife, Carrie Fisher, who was the daughter of Singer Eddie Fisher and his wife, actress Debbie Reynolds. In spite of a 13-year difference in ages, the two women became instant friends. Marshall says that she tried acid for the first time with Carrie and John Belushi’s wife, Judy, while they were all in Chicago for the filming of The Blues Brothers.
In 1981, Marshall and Fisher hosted the first of 20 annual joint birthday parties (they were both born in October). The party guests included some of the most famous people in Hollywood, such as Jack Nicholson, Anjelica Huston, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck and Nicole Kidman. In 1982, Carrie Fisher was a featured guest Penny Marshall on Laverne & Shirley. The two women got Simon & Garfunkel to sing together after years of being so estranged that they would not speak to each other. In 2004, Marshall and Fisher starred in a movie together, Stateside. Marshall wrote in her memoir, My Mother Was Nuts, that their relationship lasted longer than the sum total of all their marriages.
Health Problems and Tragedies
• At age 66, Marshall was diagnosed with lung cancer that had metastasized to her brain, and after treatment with radiation and chemotherapy, she was told that she was in remission.
• I do not know at what age Marshall was diagnosed with diabetes, but after her cancer diagnosis in 2010, she continued to smoke and gain weight. The fact that she gained weight during her cancer treatment would indicate that she had diabetes that was totally out of control by that time (most people lose weight during chemotherapy). Type II diabetes can be a vicious circle: it is often caused by obesity, but many of the drugs that are used to treat it make the patient hungry so they gain even more weight.
• Her brother, director and producer Garry Marshall, died in July 2016 at age 81 from throat and prostate cancers.
• Six months later, her best friend Carrie Fisher died suddenly at age 60. Fisher’s arteries leading to her heart were full of plaques and her blood contained high levels of cocaine and low levels of heroin, other opiates and MDMA. She had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The day after Carrie Fisher died, her mother, Debbie Reynolds, died from a stroke.
Cause of Death
The cause of Marshall’s death was given as “complications of diabetes,” which can include damage to every organ in the body. When blood sugar rises too high, sugar can stick to cells throughout the body to:
• damage the DNA in cells to cause cancers
• damage the liver. The liver helps to control blood sugar levels
• destroy the kidneys to cause the acidosis of kidney failure
• destroy brain cells to cause dementia and mood disorders
• damage nerves to cause pain and loss of feeling
• punch holes in arteries to form plaques that can break off to cause heart attacks and strokes. Seventy percent of deaths in diabetics are caused by a heart attack, stroke or heart failure. Most diabetics die from congestive heart failure, which means that so much of their heart muscle has died that the heart becomes too weak to pump blood efficiently to the brain.
Lessons from Penny Marshall’s Death: How Obesity Causes Diabetes
Most diabetes, heart attacks and strokes and many types of cancers are caused by a faulty lifestyle, not by choosing the wrong parents. Marshall broke all of the rules for a healthful lifestyle and had become obese, which is the most common cause of type II diabetes. After you eat, blood sugar levels rise. To prevent blood sugar from rising too high, your pancreas releases insulin that drives sugar from the bloodstream into your liver. However, if your liver is full of fat, your liver cannot accept the sugar and blood sugar levels rise even higher to cause diabetes.
To prevent or treat diabetes:
• Follow a plant-based diet that includes plenty of vegetables, whole fruits, nuts and other seeds. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, follow your doctor’s guidance on the use of fruits.
• Severely restrict sugar-added foods and sugared drinks including fruit juices, fried foods, red meats and processed meats.
• Avoid overweight. If you need to lose excess weight, I recommend intermittent fasting
• Try to exercise every day
• Avoid smoking, alcohol and recreational or self-prescribed drugs
• Keep blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D above 20 ng/ml
Dr. Gabe Mirkin is a Villager. Learn more at www.drmirkin.com
- What causes diabetics to die young, like Penny Marshall?
- Penny Marshall, ‘Laverne & Shirley’ Star Turned Director, Dies at 75
- She starred for eight seasons on the ABC ratings hit, created by her late brother Garry Marshall, and directed such films as ‘Big,’ ‘A League of Their Own’ and ‘Awakenings.’
- ‘Laverne and Shirley’ co-star, film director Penny Marshall dies at 75
- ‘Lavern & Shirley’ star, ‘Big’ director Penny Marshall dies
- With diabetes, knowledge is power
- Penny Marshall Died from Complications from Diabetes—Here’s How That Happens
- Penny Marshall, Director and Actor Known for ‘Laverne & Shirley,’ Dead at 75
What causes diabetics to die young, like Penny Marshall?
As others have noted… Penny Marshall was not really young; 75 is below the average life expectancy for women in the U.S. today – but still, not young. That said… diabetes shortens life expectancy for all those that live with it – regardless of the type they suffer from.
The reason for this is NOT “diabetes” – it’s the “complications” of diabetes that kill us early. That was the case for Penny Marshall. Here’s why.
When BG (Blood Glucose) levels are elevated, as they are in those with diabetes mellitus (of every type), it causes greater rates of glycation of the haemoglobin. Haemoglobin glycates when it is exposed to glucose; what happens is, the protein in the haemoglobin binds chemically with portions of the glucose molecules in the blood; this creates a sort of by-product, called AGES, which stands for Advanced Glycation End productS. These AGES are a sticky-sweet “gunk” that adheres to, and smothers, the tissue of the vasculature (blood vessels of the circulatory system) and ALL the organs it comes into contact with – which is ALL of the organs, and the nerves.
The first things to be damaged are the nerves and the finest (smallest) blood vessels; these are found in the retinas of the eyes and the nephrons of the kidneys. The damage to the blood vessels themselves includes stiffening – leading to atherosclerosis and hypertension; the damage to the retinal blood vessels leads to blindness, and damage to the nephrons’ blood vessels leads to kidney disease (and, ultimately, renal failure). But those are just the starting issues… heart failure, CVD, PAD, liver disease, and many others are more of the types of damage that are caused by the AGES, which are the result of elevated BG levels for long periods of time. The longer one is diabetic – the more damage is done.
ONLY by maintaining BG levels close to non-Diabetic levels can diabetics reduce their rates of complications to those of non-Diabetics… and that still does not entirely eliminate those problems – heart disease, kidney disease, blindness and all the others still happen to non-Diabetics as well.
Diabetes is ranked 7th in the U.S. among the leading causes of death; but among the six above it are heart disease, stroke and respiratory disease – ALL of which are among the “complications” of diabetes… and the reality is, the cause of death cited on death certificates is the ONE that is the most imminent cause… so among diabetics that die from one of these “complications”, it’s the complication that is most often cited as the cause of death. If you add all the diabetics that died of heart disease, stroke and respiratory disease to the diabetes tally (while deducting them from the specific complication they’re in), and diabetes moves to the #1 spot on the list. AND… #9 and #12 (kidney disease and liver disease) ALSO are common “complications” of diabetes. So there’s a source of even more deaths that are attributable to diabetes.
So the short answer is… diabetics die young (or old) due to the various “collateral damages” that the disease does to our bodies.
ps – I’ve been a T1 (Type 1 diabetic) for over 52 years – and have maintained good BG control most of that time; so far, no serious complications (though I suffer from mild hypertension); as a T1, there’s a good chance I’ll die of the only “complication” of good BG control – hypoglycaemia; it kills about 15% of all T1s.
The cause was complications from diabetes. Marshall had also battled brain and lung cancer in 2009, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Marshall came from Hollywood royalty — she was the sister of the late writer-producer-director Garry Marshall and first wife to actor-director Rob Reiner of “All in the Family” fame.
Her own big break came in 1976, when she starred as the Laverne character in “Laverne & Shirley” (along with Cindy Williams as her roommate Shirley) for eight seasons. The show was a spinoff of “Happy Days,” another hit created by brother Garry.
“People were dying for someone that didn’t look like Mary Tyler Moore, a regular person,” Gary Marshall said in a 2000 interview with the Archive of American Television. “My sister looks like a regular person, talks like a regular person.”
After “Laverne & Shirley” ended, Marshall moved into a field that was relatively new to American women: directing. She quickly turned out a slew of some of the biggest hit movies of the 1980s: “Big”, starring Tom Hanks; “A League of Their Own,” with Hanks, Geena Davis and Madonna; and “Awakenings,” with Robin Williams and Robert De Niro.
Marshall was born in the Bronx in 1943 to father Anthony, who made industrial films and mother Marjorie, a dance instructor, according to The Hollywood Reporter. After high school she went to the University of New Mexico in 1961, but dropped out and had a daughter, Tracy, her only child, in a marriage that lasted just two years.
She moved to Los Angeles in 1967 and decided to look up her brother Garry, who, because of a 10-year age difference, se barely knew.
“He was doing well,” she told Tavis Smiley in 2012. “He was writing for Dick Van Dyke and Joey Bishop and every show, so why not to meet him?”
She studied acting and worked as a secretary and in commercials before her first starring TV role as Oscar Madison’s secretary in “The Odd Couple.” Other stints in TV occurred until she landed the role of Laverne in 1976. The show was the highest-rated TV show for the 1977-78 and 1978-79 seasons.
Penny Marshall, ‘Laverne & Shirley’ Star Turned Director, Dies at 75
She starred for eight seasons on the ABC ratings hit, created by her late brother Garry Marshall, and directed such films as ‘Big,’ ‘A League of Their Own’ and ‘Awakenings.’
Penny Marshall, the nasally, good-natured Bronx native who starred on the ABC ratings sensation Laverne & Shirley before shattering records as a top-grossing female director in Hollywood, has died. She was 75.
The younger sister of the late writer-director-producer Garry Marshall and the first wife of actor-director Rob Reiner, Marshall died in her Hollywood Hills home on Monday night from complications from diabetes, her publicist Michelle Bega told The Hollywood Reporter. She was diagnosed with brain and lung cancer in 2009.
Marshall earned fame — but, incredibly not even one Emmy nomination — for playing the wisecracking Laverne DeFazio on the Happy Days spinoff created by her brother. Laverne & Shirley, which aired for eight seasons from 1976 to ’83, centered on the escapades of two romantically challenged Milwaukee brewery workers, with Cindy Williams co-starring as Marshall’s idealistic roommate, Shirley Feeney.
Marshall had directed a handful of episodes of the sitcom before she was approached to step in as a last-minute replacement for Howard Zieff to helm the feature comedy Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986), starring Whoopi Goldberg.
She hit comedic pay dirt with her next film, Big (1988), the Tom Hanks starrer about a boy who wakes up in the body of an adult. Co-produced by James L. Brooks, who brought the script to Marshall, it was the first film directed by a woman to gross more than $100 million (about $198 million in today’s dollars) domestically.
Another Marshall comedy, A League of Their Own (1992) — a fictional account about the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League organized during World War II that also starred Hanks (as well as Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna) — broke through the $100 million barrier as well.
In between those films, the director dramatically changed course with the based-on-a-true-story Awakenings (1990), starring Robert De Niro as a middle-aged man who has been catatonic for 30 years and Robin Williams as a painfully shy doctor determined to “awaken” him. For Awakenings, Marshall became the second woman ever to helm a best picture Oscar nominee. She also is one of only seven to achieve that without landing a director nom as well.
“I had friends who said, ‘Why do you want to be in a hospital for four months?’ I said, ‘I was depressed in a toy store, what difference does it make?'” Marshall told the Los Angeles Times in 1990. “I’m a depressed person. People said it was so brave to do a drama. I didn’t think it was bravery. I figured I had an excuse: If it didn’t work, I could say, ‘Well, that’s not my strength.'”
Carole Penny Marshall, named after actress Carole Lombard, was born Oct. 15, 1943. Her family lived on the Grand Concourse, a major thoroughfare in the Bronx. Her father, Anthony, made industrial films, and her mother, Marjorie, was a dance instructor who taught her youngest kid how to tap.
Marshall often noted that Garry, 10 years older than she, and her sister Ronny, six years her senior, were planned, while she was a mistake. As a teenager, her mother told her, “You were a miscarriage, but you were stubborn and held on.” Her parents did not get along with each other.
(Garry died of complications from a stroke on July 19, 2016. He was 81.)
Following high school, she fled to the University of New Mexico to study psychology, got married in 1961, dropped out and had a daughter, Tracy, her only child (who later was adopted by Reiner). Divorced after two years, Marshall supported herself with an array of jobs, including a stint as a choreographer for the Albuquerque Civic Light Opera Association, before heading to Los Angeles in 1967.
“I didn’t know my brother that well,” she told Tavis Smiley in a 2012 interview. “So I went and said, ‘Let me go meet him.’ He was doing well. He was writing for Dick Van Dyke and Joey Bishop and every show, so why not meet him?
Supporting herself as a secretary while studying acting, she appeared in commercials. Her first was a Head & Shoulders spot opposite the gorgeous, blond and then-unknown Farrah Fawcett; Marshall played her plain roommate.
After appearing on such shows as That Girl and Love, American Style, Marshall and Reiner — mere months before they were to marry — auditioned for a new CBS sitcom. But while Reiner was cast as Michael Stivic, it was Sally Struthers who ended up playing his wife, Gloria, on All in the Family.
Marshall, though, soon joined her brother’s ABC comedy The Odd Couple as Oscar Madison’s flighty secretary, Myrna Turner. It was Jack Klugman, who played Oscar the sloppy sportswriter, who insisted she get the job.
Guest stints on such series as The Bob Newhart Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show and a regular role on the short-lived sitcom Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers (created by Brooks and Allan Burns) followed.
In 1975, she and Cindy Williams — who had met on a double date years earlier during a Liza Minnelli performance at L.A.’s Ambassador Hotel — were working on a satire for Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope magazine when Garry Marshall hired them for an episode of Happy Days.
Portraying “fast girls” recruited by Fonzie (Henry Winkler) for a double date with Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard), the two displayed an immediate comic rapport. So when ABC entertainment chief Fred Silverman asked the Happy Days creator if he had any ideas for a new show, he mentioned one starring his sister and Williams as Milwaukee’s best.
“People were dying for someone that didn’t look like Mary Tyler Moore, a regular person,” he added. “My sister looks like a regular person, talks like a regular person.”
The series, from Paramount Television, started out with the ladies living in a basement apartment and working as bottle cappers for the Schotz brewery in the 1950s. Marshall quaffed milk mixed with Pepsi and sported sweaters with a large, loopy “L” on them, and she and Williams performed physical shenanigans not seen since the days of I Love Lucy.
“We had a 60 share. That doesn’t happen except for the Academy Awards or things like that, like the Super Bowl,” Marshall told The Huffington Post in May 2013. “We beat out Jesus once, I remember that. It was Easter.”
In mid-1979, Laverne & Shirley was sold into syndication for a record price, estimated to be $50,000 an episode.
In 1982, Williams sued Paramount for $20 million in a dispute over wanting to get paid while missing episodes because she was pregnant. After a settlement, she was written out of the series, and Laverne & Shirley wrapped after 178 episodes in May 1983 with only one Emmy nom ever — for costume design.
In 1978, Marshall starred opposite Reiner in the ABC telefilm More Than Friends, co-written by Reiner and based on the early days of their courtship. (Earlier, Reiner had played her fiance, named Sheldn (they forgot the “o” on his birth certificate, as the gag went), on The Odd Couple.
She and Reiner split up in 1979; afterward, she had a long romance with singer Art Garfunkel.
Marshall also had a minor role in the 1979 comedy 1941, directed by Steven Spielberg, and she did a cameo as a director in the 1995 movie adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s Hollywood satire Get Shorty!
After A League of Their Own, Marshall directed Renaissance Man (1994), toplined by Danny DeVito and featuring Mark Wahlberg in his film debut; The Preacher’s Wife (1996), with Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston in what she once called “the first black Christmas movie”; and the Drew Barrymore starrer Riding in Cars With Boys (2001).
More recently, Marshall directed a couple of episodes of Showtime’s United States of Tara and appeared on IFC’s Portlandia (series star Fred Armisen hilariously impersonated her to promote her sassy 2012 memoir, My Mother Was Nuts) and the Fox sitcom Mulaney.
Marshall was one of Hollywood’s most fervent Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers fans. She regularly was seen courtside at the Forum, the Sports Arena and then Staples Center, with her trademark tinted glasses perched precariously on her nose.
Her daughter played left fielder Betty Spaghetti in A League of Their Own.
Duane Byrge contributed to this report.
‘Laverne and Shirley’ co-star, film director Penny Marshall dies at 75
Bronx-born actress and director Penny Marshall — famed for her sassy character on the TV classic “Laverne & Shirley’’ — has died, her publicist confirmed to The Post on Tuesday.
Marshall, 75, succumbed to complications from diabetes at her home in Hollywood Hills on Monday night, rep Michelle Bega said.
“Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall,” the family said in a statement. “Penny was a girl from the Bronx who came out West, put a cursive ‘L’ on her sweater and transformed herself into a Hollywood success story. We hope her life continues to inspire others.”
The comedic actress had reportedly been battling serious health issues off and on since around 2009, when she was diagnosed with lung cancer that then spread to her brain.
Marshall was best known for her 1970s and ’80s on-screen antics as beer-bottle capper Laverne DeFazio opposite quirky co-star Cindy Williams, aka Shirley Feeney.
‘Schlemiel’: an unlucky bungler
‘Schlimazel’: a consistently unlucky person
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) December 18, 2018
Marshall went on to direct such flicks as “Big,” “Awakenings” and “A League of Their Own.”
She and her family, including late director brother Garry Marshall, grew up in Bronx, New York, at one time across the street from the man she would later marry, actor and director Rob Reiner.
“When Rob Reiner and I were children, we lived across the street from each other. We never met because the Grand Concourse was a busy street, and we were too young to cross it,’’ Marshall told The Post in 2012.
“He went to PS 8, I went to 80. He moved when he was 7. His father, Carl, was one of the stars on ‘Your Show of Shows,’ and he was the most famous person in the neighborhood. He was also known for giving out the best Halloween candy.”
She married Reiner in 1971, and the pair divorced 10 years later.
Marshall’s family hailed her contribution to the entertainment industry in its statement, saying, “As an actress, her work on ‘Laverne & Shirley’ broke ground featuring blue-collar women entertaining America in prime time.
“She was a comedic natural with a photographic memory and an instinct for slapstick.”
The statement added, “Penny was a tomboy who loved sports, doing puzzles of any kind, drinking milk and Pepsi together and being with her family.”
A version of this story appears on NYPost.com.
We Want to Hear from You
Join the conversation
‘Lavern & Shirley’ star, ‘Big’ director Penny Marshall dies
This story was updated Dec. 18, 2018, at 7:52 p.m. with more information.
NEW YORK (AP) — Penny Marshall, who indelibly starred in the top-rated sitcom “Laverne & Shirley” before becoming the trailblazing director of smash-hit big-screen comedies such as “Big” and “A League of Their Own,” has died. She was 75.
Michelle Bega, a spokeswoman for the Marshall family, said Tuesday that Marshall died in her Los Angeles home on Monday night due to complications from diabetes. Marshall earlier fought lung cancer, which went into remission in 2013. “Our family is heartbroken,” the Marshall family said in a statement.
In this Sept. 9, 1979 file photo, Penny Marshal, left,l and Cindy Williams from the comedy series “Laverne & Shirley” appear at the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Marshall died of complications from diabetes on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, at her Hollywood Hills home. She was 75. (AP Photo/George Brich, FIle)
In “Laverne & Shirley,” among television’s biggest hits for much of its eight-season run between 1976-1983, the nasal-voiced, Bronx-born Marshall starred as Laverne DeFazio alongside Cindy Williams as a pair of blue-collar roommates toiling on the assembly line of a Milwaukee brewery. A spinoff of “Happy Days,” the series was the rare network hit about working-class characters, and its self-empowering opening song (“Give us any chance, we’ll take it/ Read us any rule, we’ll break it”) foreshadowed Marshall’s own path as a pioneering female filmmaker in the male-dominated movie business.
“Almost everyone had a theory about why ‘Laverne & Shirley’ took off,” Marshall wrote in her 2012 memoir “My Mother Was Nuts.” ”I thought it was simply because Laverne and Shirley were poor and there were no poor people on TV, but there were plenty of them sitting at home and watching TV.”
Marshall directed several episodes of “Laverne & Shirley,” which her older brother, the late filmmaker-producer Garry Marshall, created. Those episodes helped launch Marshall as a filmmaker. When Whoopi Goldberg clashed with director Howard Zieff, she brought in Marshall to direct “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” the 1986 comedy starring Goldberg.
“Jumpin’ Jack Flash” did fair business, but Marshall’s next film, “Big,” was a major success, making her the first woman to direct a film that grossed more than $100 million. The 1988 comedy, starring Tom Hanks, is about a 12-year-old boy who wakes up in the body of a 30-year-old New York City man. The film, which earned Hanks an Oscar nomination, grossed $151 million worldwide, or about $320 million accounting for inflation.
The honor meant only so much to the typically self-deprecating Marshall. “They didn’t give ME the money,” Marshall later joked to The New Yorker.
Marshall reteamed with Hanks for “A League of Their Own,” the 1992 comedy about the women’s professional baseball league begun during World War II, starring Geena Davis, Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell. That, too, crossed $100 million, making $107.5 million domestically.
More than any other films, “A League of Their Own” and “Big” ensured Marshall’s stamp on the late ’80s, early ’90s. The piano dance scene in FAO Schwartz in “Big” became iconic. Hanks’ reprimand from “A League of Their Own” — “There’s no crying in baseball!” — remains quoted on baseball diamonds everywhere.
On Tuesday, Marshall’s passing was felt across film, television and comedy. “Big” producer James L. Brooks praised her for making “films which celebrated humans” and for her helping hand to young comedians and writers. “To many of us lost ones she was, at the time, the world’s greatest den mother.”
“She had a heart of gold. Tough as nails,” recalled Danny DeVito, who starred in Marshall’s 1994 comedy “Renaissance Man.” ”She could play round ball with the best of them.”
Marshall’s early success in a field where few women rose so high made her an inspiration to other aspiring female filmmakers. Ava DuVernay, whose “A Wrinkle in Time” was the first $100 million-budgeted film directed by a woman of color, said Tuesday: “Thank you, Penny Marshall. For the trails you blazed. The laughs you gave. The hearts you warmed.”
In between “Big” and “A League of Their Own,” Marshall made the Oliver Sacks adaptation “Awakenings,” with Robin Williams and Robert De Niro. The medical drama, while not as successful at the box office, became only the second film directed by a woman nominated for best picture.
Carole Penny Marshall was born Oct. 15, 1943, in the Bronx. Her mother, Marjorie Marshall, was a dance teacher, and her father, Anthony, made industrial films. Their marriage was strained. Her mother’s caustic wit — a major source of material and of pain in Marshall’s memoir — was formative. (One remembered line: “You were a miscarriage, but you were stubborn and held on.”)
“Those words are implanted in your soul, unfortunately. It’s just the way it was,” Marshall once recalled. “You had to learn at a certain age what sarcasm is, you know? When she says it about somebody else, you laughed, but when it was you, you didn’t laugh so much.”
During college at the University of New Mexico, Marshall met Michael Henry, whom she married briefly for two years and with whom she had a daughter, Tracy. Marshall would later wed the director Rob Reiner, a marriage that lasted from 1971 to 1981. Tracy, who took the name Reiner, became an actress; one of her first roles was a brief appearance in her mother’s “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Marshall is also survived by her older sister, Ronny, and three grandchildren.
Marshall’s brother Garry, already established as a writer, coaxed her to move out to Los Angeles in 1967. She studied acting while supporting herself as a secretary — a role she would later play on “Happy Days.” Her first commercial was for Head & Shoulders opposite a then-unknown Farrah Fawcett.
“I just cannot bring myself to accept that the homely person on the screen is me,” Marshall told TV Guide in 1976. “I grew up believing an actress is supposed to be beautiful. After I saw myself in a ‘Love American Style’ segment, I cried for three days. I’ve had braces put on my teeth twice, but they did no good.”
Marshall never again matched the run of “Big,” ”Awakenings” and “A League of Their Own.” Her next film, the Army recruit comedy “Renaissance Man,” flopped. She directed “The Preacher’s Wife” (1996) with Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston. Her last film as director was 2001’s “Riding in Cars With Boys,” with Drew Barrymore. Marshall also helmed episodes of ABC’s “According to Jim” in 2009 and Showtime’s “United States of Tara” in 2010 and 2011, and directed the 2010 TV movie “Women Without Men.”
Marshall, a courtside regular at Los Angeles Lakers games, left behind a long-in-the-making documentary about former NBA star Dennis Rodman. When the project was announced in 2012, Marshall said Rodman asked her to do it.
“I have a little radar to the insane,” explained Marshall. “They seek me out.”
With diabetes, knowledge is power
HAMPTON – Penny Marshall, the beloved actress and director, died last week at the age of 75, reportedly of complications of diabetes, a disease shared by millions in the United States and across the world.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics, 30.3 million people in the United have diabetes, representing 9.4 percent of the population. Of those, the CDC estimates 23.1 million are diagnosed and 7.2 million are living with the disease and have not yet been diagnosed.
The American Diabetes Association defines type 2 diabetes as the body not using insulin properly.
“Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store glucose for future use,” according to endocrineweb.com. “Insulin helps keep your blood sugar level from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).”
Lucille Marvin, RN, is a certified diabetes educator at HealthReach Diabetes Nutrition and Education in Hampton, a program of Exeter Hospital. She said she cannot speculate on Marshall’s reported complications but said there are many complications from diabetes, especially if it is not well controlled.
“A person with type 2 diabetes may already have health issues, other complications when diabetes is already started,” said Marvin. “If they have cardiovascular issues, kidney and nerve disease, if they are inactive and overweight, diabetes is likely a factor.”
Untreated diabetes can result in circulation problems in the extremities and can lead to the need for amputations. Eye problems and even a loss of vision can come from uncontrolled diabetes.
“The complications can be serious and can get out of control quickly,” said Marvin. “The blood sugar can get out of control and there can be a hyperglycemic (high) or hypoglycemic (low) blood sugar crisis. Critically high blood sugar can lead to heart disease or a stroke.”
Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed by a blood test and lab work. Marvin said from there, the patient should start creating a management plan.
“People who have early type 2 diabetes can sometimes control it or even reverse it by making lifestyle changes,” said Marvin. “Quit smoking. Lose weight. Eat better and lead a more active lifestyle. Managing the diet and making healthier choices can go a long way to managing blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels. For some, it is enough to avoid the need for medication for some time.”
Being diagnosed with any disease, including diabetes can be daunting, Marvin said. The next step for the patient will be a conversation with a person like her, who can talk about the risks and advise the patient on the best course of action.
“We can have that conversation,” said Marvin. “We can formulate a plan for weight loss and activity. We can set them up with a nutrition expert who can help plan meals. People need to understand how diet and exercise can effect blood sugar, for good or not so good. Little changes can go a long way. If people understood that, they can see much more favorable results.”
Marvin said she tells her patients that they can thrive with diabetes. She tells them seven steps: healthy eating, increasing activity, monitoring their blood glucose levels, taking medication as prescribed, problem solving, healthy coping and reducing risk will help them lead a better, healthier life.
“Knowledge is power,” said Marvin. “In some cases, getting the diagnosis and making the needed lifestyle changes actually makes the person healthier than they were when they started.”
Penny Marshall Died from Complications from Diabetes—Here’s How That Happens
Actor and director Penny Marshall passed away yesterday at the age of 75. According to a statement from Marshall’s family, her death was caused by complications from diabetes.
Marshall spoke about other health problems over the years—including lung and brain cancer diagnoses in 2009—but not about diabetes. It’s unclear how long she lived with the condition, or whether she had type 1 or type 2.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects millions of people in the United States—many who live for years with the diagnosis. So the Hollywood legend’s death may have people wondering, how exactly does someone die from diabetes?
To find out, Health spoke with Donald Mcclain, MD, professor of endocrinology and metabolism at Wake Forest School of Medicine. Here are some of the most common complications of diabetes (both type 1 and type 2) that can lead to fatal consequences, and how patients can protect themselves.
RELATED: 15 Ways High Blood Sugar Can Affect Your Body
Too-high blood sugar
When diabetes is well managed, patients can live long and healthy lives. But one of the biggest threats to people who have this condition is uncontrolled blood glucose levels. If glucose levels get too high, for example, it can lead to sudden death.
This complication, known as diabetic ketoacidosis, is more common in type 1 diabetes, a condition in which the body cannot make its own insulin. However, it’s not unheard of in people with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes (in which insulin production is present but impaired), as well.
Most people with type 1 diabetes are able to keep their blood glucose at normal levels by using an insulin pump or by manually injecting themselves with insulin several times a day. But ketoacidosis can still happen—and without immediate treatment with insulin, it can be fatal. This can happen when people skip doses of insulin, but it can also be caused by illnesses or certain drugs.
Damaged organs over time
Another way diabetes can lead to death is by damage done to organs and tissues in the body over a long period of time. “For example, the blood vessels in the kidneys can be damaged by high blood sugar,” says Dr. Mcclain—a complication that can lead to kidney failure and require dialysis.
This same type of organ and blood-vessel damage can also lead to blindness and to amputation of feet or legs, he adds, which can reduce quality of life and raise the risk of infection, injuries, or additional illnesses. “We know that keeping blood sugar under control, for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of these complications,” says Dr. Mcclain.
RELATED: 8 Lies People With Diabetes Should Never Tell Their Doctors
An increased risk of heart and vascular problems
About two-thirds of people with diabetes actually die from cardiovascular conditions like heart attacks or strokes, says Dr. Mcclain. That’s because diabetes can occur alongside other conditions like obesity, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, and the combination of these diseases can make each of them more dangerous. People with diabetes are also more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and getting regular physical activity are all ways that people with diabetes can help protect their heart and their brain as they age. But it’s also important they work with their doctors to keep their blood glucose—as well as their blood pressure and cholesterol—in the healthy range.
Too-low blood sugar
Overtreatment of diabetes is also a concern, says Dr. Mcclain. “If you take too much insulin and your blood sugar goes way down, that can cause seizure, coma, and death,” he says. Low blood sugar can literally starve the brain of oxygen, he adds, and it can also trigger dangerous heart arrhythmias.
Improvements in medical technology have made overtreatment much less likely than it once was, says Dr. Mcclain, but it’s still a risk—especially as patients get older. “The warning system that lets your brain know that your blood sugar is getting too low becomes blunted as you age,” he says. “Elderly people also may not be eating meals on a regular schedule, which can affect insulin levels.”
RELATED: The 7 Most Common Diabetes-Related Medical Emergencies
Doctors are seeing fewer complications, but more diabetes cases overall
Dr. Mcclain says that doctors are getting better at treating diabetes—and at preventing complications so patients can live longer, healthier lives. “Just yesterday I had several diabetes patients in their 80s who are doing quite well,” he says. “It’s not easy, and it’s a lot of work on the part of the patient, but we have good tools that are getting better all the time, and we can do this.”
But at the same time, more and more people are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes—which means that there are still plenty of people suffering from complications and dying from those complications, as well. “We’re doing better on a population level at managing it,” says Dr. Mcclain, “but we’re still fighting a rising tide of disease.”
To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter
Penny Marshall, Director and Actor Known for ‘Laverne & Shirley,’ Dead at 75
Penny Marshall, the Bronx-born producer, director and actor best known for playing Laverne DeFazio on “Laverne & Shirley,” has died. She was 75.
Marshall’s publicist confirmed to CBS News that she died Monday at her Hollywood Hills home from diabetes-related complications.
Carole Penny Marshall was born Oct. 15, 1943 to Marjorie, a tap school teacher, and Tony, a director and producer who changed the family name from Marsciarelli.
One of three children with a propensity for the spotlight, Marshall was a born performer and began taking tap dance lessons from her mother at age 3.
Marshall worked on commercials and had small roles on television before getting a recurring part on “The Odd Couple” in 1971. She went on to appear on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Mork & Mindy” and “Happy Days.”
She starred on “Laverne & Shirley,” being cast by her brother, Garry, as a one-half of the titular duo. The show was a hit, running from 1976 to 1983 and depicting Marshall’s DeFazio and Cindy Williams’ Shirley Feeney as wise-cracking single women who worked at the fictional Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee.
Marshall then moved behind the camera, breaking ground as a female director in a male-dominated industry. She became the first female director to gross $100 million with “Big” in 1988, repeating her success for “A League of Their Own” in 1992.
Figures in Hollywood, fans and admirers of Marshall’s work took to social media to mourn her passing.
“Mourning the loss of a funny, poignant, and original American voice,” journalist Dan Rather wrote on Twitter. “Penny Marshall was a pioneer in television and the big screen who understood humor comes in many forms and some of life’s deeper truths require a laugh. She will be missed. May she RIP.”
“RIP Penny Marshall. You were a light in this world,” wrote Justine Siegal, the first female coach in Major League Baseball. “Your movie A League of Their Own honored the women of the (All-American Girls Professional Baseball League) and inspired others to play baseball. You made a difference. Thank you.”
Marshall was married from 1963 to 1966 to Michael Henry. The couple had a daughter, Tracy, in 1964. Marshall married actor and director Rob Reiner in 1971. The couple divorced a decade later. She also dated singer Art Garfunkel for five years.
Ten years ago, Marshall was diagnosed and treated for brain and lung cancer. She had the tumor in her brain surgically removed, and underwent radiation to treat her lung.
Marshall was survived by her older sister, Ronny, her daughter, and three grandchildren. Her family said plans for a celebration of her life will be announced at a later date.
Hollywood Mourns Garry Marshall, the Legend Behind ‘Happy Days’ and ‘Pretty Woman,’ Dead at 81
President George H.W. Bush Dead at 94
‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ Creator Stephen Hillenburg Dead at 57