AP (NEW)

‘Laverne & Shirley’ actor Cindy Williams dies at 75

Jan 30, 2023, 4:30 PM | Updated: Jan 31, 2023, 6:25 am

Penny Marshall (R) and Cindy Williams ("Laverne and Shirley") pose for a portrait during the The Na...

Penny Marshall (R) and Cindy Williams ("Laverne and Shirley") pose for a portrait during the The National Multiple Sclerosis Society's 30th Annual Dinner of Champions to Honor Tom Rothman on September 14, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

(Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Cindy Williams, who was among the most recognizable stars in America in the 1970s and 1980s for her role as Shirley opposite Penny Marshall’s Laverne on the beloved sitcom “Laverne & Shirley,” has died. She was 75.

Williams died in Los Angeles on Wednesday after a brief illness, her children, Zak and Emily Hudson, said in a statement released on Monday through family spokeswoman Liza Cranis.

“The passing of our kind, hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed,” the statement said. “Knowing and loving her has been our joy and privilege. She was one of a kind, beautiful, generous and possessed a brilliant sense of humor and a glittering spirit that everyone loved.”

Williams worked with some of Hollywood’s most elite directors in a film career that preceded her full-time move to television, appearing in George Cukor’s 1972 “Travels With My Aunt,” George Lucas’ 1973 “American Graffiti” and Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation” from 1974.

But she was by far best known for “Laverne & Shirley,” the “Happy Days” spinoff that ran on ABC from 1976 to 1983 that in its prime was among the most popular shows on TV.

Williams played the straitlaced Shirley Feeney to Marshall’s more libertine Laverne DeFazio on the show about a pair of blue-collar roommates who toiled on the assembly line of a Milwaukee brewery in the 1950s and 1960s.

“They were beloved characters,” Williams told The Associated Press in 2002.

DeFazio was quick-tempered and defensive; Feeney was naive and trusting. The actors drew upon their own lives for plot inspiration.

“We’d make up a list at the start of each season of what talents we had,” Marshall told the AP in 2002. “Cindy could touch her tongue to her nose and we used it in the show. I did tap dance.”

Williams told The Associated Press in 2013 that she and Marshall had “very different personalities” but tales of the two clashing during the making of the show were “a bit overblown.”

The series was the rare network hit about working-class characters, with its self-empowering opening song: “Give us any chance, we’ll take it, read us any rule, we’ll break it.”

That opening would become as popular as the show itself. Williams’ and Marshall’s chant of “schlemiel, schlimazel” as they skipped along together became a cultural phenomenon and oft-invoked piece of nostalgia.

Marshall, whose brother, Garry Marshall, co-created the series, died in 2018.

Actor Rosario Dawson shared a video of the opening theme on Twitter on Tuesday.

“Singing this song with so much gratitude for both of you ladies,” Dawson tweeted. “Absolute gems. United again… Rest in Paradise Cindy Williams.”

The show also starred Michael McKean and David Lander as Laverne and Shirley’s oddball hangers-on Lenny and Squiggy. Lander died in 2020.

McKean paid tribute to Williams on Twitter with a memory from the production.

“Backstage, Season 1: I’m offstage waiting for a cue. The script’s been a tough one, so we’re giving it 110% and the audience is having a great time,” McKean tweeted. “Cindy scoots by me to make her entrance and with a glorious grin, says: ‘Show’s cookin’!’ Amen. Thank you, Cindy.”

As ratings dropped in the sixth season, the characters moved from Milwaukee to Burbank, California, trading their brewery jobs for work at a department store.

In 1982, Williams became pregnant and wanted her working hours curtailed. When her demands weren’t met, she walked off the set, and filed a lawsuit against its production company. She appeared infrequently during the final season.

Williams was born one of two sisters in the Van Nuys area of Los Angeles in 1947. Her family moved to Dallas soon after she was born, but returned to Los Angeles, where she would take up acting while attending Birmingham High School and a major in theater arts at LA City College.

Her acting career began with small roles in television starting in 1969, with appearances on “Room 222,” “Nanny and the Professor” and ”Love, American Style.”

Her part in Lucas’ “American Graffiti” would become a defining role. The film was a forerunner to a nostalgia boom for the 1950s and early 1960s that would follow. “Happy Days,” starring her “American Graffiti” co-star Ron Howard, would premiere the following year. The characters of Laverne and Shirley made their first TV appearance as dates of Henry Winkler’s Fonzie before they got their own show.

Lucas also considered her for the role of Princess Leia in “Star Wars,” a role that went to Carrie Fisher.

In the past three decades, Williams made guest appearances on dozens of TV series including “7th Heaven,” “8 Simple Rules” and “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.” In 2013, she and Marshall appeared in a “Laverne & Shirley” tribute episode of the Nickelodeon series “Sam and Cat.”

Last year, Williams appeared in a one-woman stage show full of stories from her career, “ Me, Myself and Shirley,” at a theater in Palm Springs, California, near her home in Desert Hot Springs.

Williams was married to singer Bill Hudson of musical group the Hudson Brothers from 1982 until 2000. Hudson was father to her two children. He was previously married to Goldie Hawn and is also the father of actor Kate Hudson.

___

Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton

KSL 5 TV Live

AP (New)

iron prison bars...

Associated Press

Convicted sex offender who hacked jumbotron at Jacksonville Jaguars’ stadium gets 220 years

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A convicted child molester has been sentenced to 220 years in federal prison for producing child sexual abuse material and hacking the jumbotron at the Jacksonville Jaguars stadium after the team learned he was a registered sex offender and fired him. A federal judge in Jacksonville sentenced 53-year-old Samuel Arthur Thompson, […]

2 months ago

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., faces reporters at the Capitol, Nov. 30, 2023, in Washington. A Texas m...

Associated Press

Former US Rep. George Santos, expelled from Congress, says he is running again

Former U.S. Rep. George Santos, who was expelled from Congress in December and faces federal charges of defrauding donors to his 2022 campaign, has announced he is running for the House again.

2 months ago

FILE - Kristlyn Wood, a cousin of 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham, reacts during a vigil in Cunningha...

Associated Press

Family, advocates want solution to legal loophole after killing of 11-year-old Texas girl

As mourners prepare for the funeral of 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham, who was killed near Houston, the community wants answers about how the suspect in her death was allowed to remain free despite a long criminal history of violence.

3 months ago

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018 photo, containers holding frozen embryos and sperm are stored ...

Associated Press

Facing backlash over IVF ruling, Alabama lawmakers look for a fix

Lawmakers began scrambling for ways to protect Alabama in vitro fertilization services after multiple providers paused services in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos could be considered children under a state law.

3 months ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump during a campaign stop in Rochester...

Associated Press

UK judge dismisses Trump’s lawsuit over dossier containing ‘shocking and scandalous claims’

A judge in London on Thursday threw out a lawsuit by former U.S. President Donald Trump accusing a former British spy of making “shocking and scandalous claims” that were false and harmed his reputation.

4 months ago

FILE - The FBI arrested three Florida residents on Saturday, the third anniversary of their alleged...

Associated Press

FBI arrests 3 in Florida on charges of assaulting officers in Jan. 6 insurrection

The FBI arrested three Florida residents on Saturday, the third anniversary of their alleged attack on Capitol police officers during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

5 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

‘Laverne & Shirley’ actor Cindy Williams dies at 75