Garry Marshall, Happy Days Creator, TV Writer, Producer and Director, Dies at 81

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If you are a fan of entertainment, the odds are, you're a fan of Garry Marshall.

The prolific writer, director and producer of television and movies died today at the age of 81 due from complications of pneumonia after a stroke.

Marshall's long line of televisions credits includes The Dick Van Dyke Show, Happy Days, and The Odd Couple among others.

Marshall's first television credit was for three episodes of The Jack Parr Tonight Show in 1960. Over the next 50 plus years, his credits looks like a virtual history of the American comedy.

Marshall not only created Happy Days, but the three spinoffs that came afterward, including Laverne & Shirley (starring his younger sister, Penny Marshall), Mork & Mindy (starring the late Robin Williams and Joanie & Chachi.

At one time, Marshall was writing three of the top four programs of the 1978-79 television season. 

Think about where we'd be without Marshall. Most likely, there would have been no Scott Baio in the news this week.

Without Marshall, none of your favorite television shows could have jumped the shark, because there would have never been a Fonzie in a swimsuit and leather jacket doing the jumping.

And without Marshall, there would have been no Nanu nanu or Shazbot, Mork phrases that reverberated throughout the 70s with Fonzie's Ayyy.

OK, maybe that doesn't seem all that important right now, but for generations, it meant everything. Marshall shaped the world in which many of us grew up. It's as simple as that.

Marshall was known as a nice guy who loved what he did. He poured his heart into his work and those he worked with and his friends have never forgotten.

Henry Winkler, who worked with Marshall as Arthur Fonzarelli on Happy Days, used Twitter to pay his respects:

But writing, directing and producing wasn't Marshall's only love. 

His acting credits span the decades, as well.

He guest starred on shows for which he did some behind the scenes work, such as The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Odd Couple, Laverne & Shirley and Happy Days.

But Marshall also had a recurring role on Murphy Brown as Network President Stan Lansing from 1994-1997 and voiced Dr. Weisberg on The Looney Toons show from 2011-2013.

For one-off roles, he appeared on everything from Brothers & Sisters to Louie to BoJack Horseman.

On the film side, Marshall was known for directing romantic comedies including Pretty Woman, Beaches, Never Been Kissed and The Princess Diaries, among others.

Marshall was born on November 13, 1934 in New York City, as Garry Kent Maschiarelli and is survived by his wife, Barbara, who he married in 1963, and his sister Penny. We thank them for sharing his incredible journey.

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on X and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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