It takes a certain kind of woman to break into the boys club and blaze a trail for other women to follow in her path.
Actor and director Penny Marshall was one of those women. She died today at the age of 75.
Born in the Bronx, NY, she broke into the national consciousness in 1976 when she played Laverne DeFazio opposite Cindy Williams as Shirley Feeney in the classic 1970’s sitcom, Laverne & Shirley (1976-1973).Laverne and Shirley were two single women in the 1950’s and 1960’s balancing work, love, friendship and everything in between while going on hilarious adventures.
In the 1980’s and 199o’s, she switched from working in front of the camera to working behind the camera. Directing such beloved movies as Big and A League of Their Own, she proved that not only can women direct, but they can direct films that audiences and critics enjoy.
RIP. May her memory be a blessing.
In the 1970’s television began to reflect the changing reality. Women were shucking off the chains that kept past generations tethered to the home and approved of “female activities” and began to make their own mark on the world.
In 1970, Mary Tyler Moore premiered. Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) is a single woman working in a newsroom. Unlike past generations of female characters, the show does not revolve around her desire to marry and settle down. Mary has her friends and her colleagues (and yes, she does date), but she is content as she is.
Mary Tyler Moore was a ground breaking show. Mary Richards showed a generation of women that they can find jobs outside of what was considered acceptable for a woman. She also proved that while it is lovely to have a significant other, it is not the be and end all of our existence.
Six years later, Laverne and Shirley premiered. A spinoff of Happy Days, Laverne DeFazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams) are best friend and roommates living in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Both are single and working, but do not lack a social life.
Laverne and Shirley inherited the female comedy throne that was left vacant when I Love Lucy ended. Yes, these girls are crazy, but they proved that female friendships do work and one does not need a boyfriend to survive.
I recommend them both.