2016 has been a really brutal year for celebrity deaths. The latest popular entertainer to leave us is beloved comedy legend Garry Marshall.
Marshall is one of those industry figures who feels like he’s been around forever. His list of credits as a writer, producer, director, and actor is extensive. He started his career in the early 1960s writing for variety programs like ‘The Jack Paar Tonight Show’ and ‘The Joey Bishop Show’ as well as classic sitcoms including ‘Make Room for Daddy’, ‘The Lucy Show’ and ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’. He quickly worked his way up to producing, and became a dominant force on television throughout the 1970s and ’80s. Among the many series he created or developed for TV were pop culture touchstones such as ‘The Odd Couple’, ‘Happy Days’, ‘Laverne & Shirley’ and ‘Mork & Mindy’.
As if that weren’t enough to secure his legacy, Marshall next segued into directing feature films. He made Julia Roberts a superstar with ‘Pretty Woman‘ and was responsible for the blockbusters ‘Runaway Bride‘ and ‘The Princess Diaries‘. His 1988 hit ‘Beaches‘ propelled the Bette Midler song “Wind Beneath My Wings” to huge radio airplay, album sales and Grammy Award success.
Most of Marshall’s film work can safely be described as “schmaltzy” without meaning offense. The man unashamedly embraced melodrama and delighted in catering to broad demographic mass audiences even when critics weren’t too kind to him for it. His recent trio of holiday-themed ensemble rom-coms ‘Valentine’s Day‘, ‘New Year’s Eve‘ and ‘Mother’s Day‘ may have received some of the worst reviews of his career, but Marshall laughed all the way to the bank.
Laughing was something Marshall did plenty of on-screen as well. Over the years, he made numerous walk-on roles and cameo appearances in both his own work and that of others. His garrulous personality and bellowing voice were well suited for comedy. As an actor, he’s perhaps most fondly remembered for his recurring role as TV network president Stan Lansing in ‘Murphy Brown’.
Garry Marshall passed away yesterday at the age of 81. The cause of death is cited as complications from pneumonia following a stroke.