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« Pick Your Poison: The Hallmark Homages of Stranger Things| Main| What's on your cinematic mind?»
Wednesday
Jul 20 2016

Garry Marshall (1934-2016)

One of Hollywood's key figures passed away yesterday at the age of 81.His work in the past five years has consisted of a string of critically lambasted all star romcoms (Valentines Day,New Year's Eve,Mothers Day) and the day before he died one of the many actor he made famous (Scott Baio ofHappy Days&Joanie Loves Chachifame) embarrassed himself on national television at the RNC.To put it bluntly,the last few years have not been kind but this isnotthe legacy that the beloved Garry Marshall deserves.We need to look a little further back.While he was never exactly a critic's darling - let's not rewrite history -- his work often resonated wildly with the public on screens both small and large.And that,my friends,is no small thing with or without a shelf of showbiz trophies.

He was a mammoth figure in comedy television,first,coming up as a writer on seminal shows likeThe Dick Van Dyke Showand famous properties likeThe Lucy Show.After developingThe Odd Couplefor television (1970-1975) he created three true pop culture behemoths inHappy Days(1974-1984),Laverne & Shirley(1976-1983) andMork & Mindy(1978-1982),the latter introducing the public to Robin Williams with whom they fell madly in love.

In the movies,and this is also no small thing,he was irreplaceable when it came to the careers of mainstream superstar actresses in both the 1980s and 1990s.He directed one of Goldie Hawn's most enduring hits (Overboard),one of Bette Midler's melodramatic bests (Beaches) and he was instrumental in the superstar blossoming of both Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman,Runaway Bride) and Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries).He also guided Michelle Pfeiffer through one of her most controversial roles  (Frankie & Johnny) but even though everyone argued miscasting she made fine work of it.He even tried to help Lindsay Lohan along (Georgia Rule) but it's hardly his fault thatthatdidn't take.He was not without his missteps of course (Raising Helen,The Other Sister,Exit to Eden) but who isn't?

My personal favorite Garry Marshall movie,BEACHES (1988)Laverne & Shirley starring his sister Penny (who also became a director)

Do you have a favorite film or television show from his resume?There are a lot of choices as his work was so deeply embedded in our pop culture for decades on end.

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Reader Comments (34)

Oh Beaches you are a national treasure.

Some people now seem to forget the impact Pretty Woman/Julia had on the Industry,Garry directed THAT star making performance which IMO is the best ever for introducing us to a Movie Star.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered Commentermark

mark,Julia did two movies before Pretty Woman,one of which she got an Oscar nomination for.Her introduction came before.

I do not think Garry Marshall was a great director,but he did know what audiences wanted and how to give it to them,and he definitely was a television genius.May he be at peace.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Any person who accomplishes something that becomes a hit,has done something right.TV shows and movie 's successes are measured by their pop culture relevance and durability and Garry Marshall achieved that.There is no need to defend his work.He is a sore loss to the medium.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterTony T

I'll go with Frankie and Johnny.Thank God there was no twitter when Michelle got cast.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

For me....I'll always remember his great little role as the casino manager in Albert Brooks' Lost in America.A small tidbit on his filmography,but one that I adore.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterCorey

PS.Forgot to answer Nathaniel's question.Laverne and Shirley is a classic.Amazing.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Overboard,Pretty Woman,and Beaches are all wonderful,but my personal favourite Mr.Marshall film is "Frankie & Johnny".It's not a perfect film but the romance that builds between Pfeiffer and Pacino has stuck with me for years.And my favourite thing about Mr.Marshall was his constant casting of the incomparable Hector Elizondo,who is one great role away from an Oscar nomination.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterWayne B.

Aw.He was such a big part of my childhood re TV.Fav movie has to be Overboard,which I can watch again and again.Unfortunately,his last few films featuring all-star casts were dreadful messes.

WayneB--thanks for the shout-out re Elizonda.He was def MVP of Pretty Woman.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterPam

@Corey - I just want to co-sign your comment about his cameo as casino manager in "Lost in America"- hilarious,real,and memorable - all in one brief appearance.

I fell in love with the Dick Van Dyke show and noticed that a lot of the funniest episodes were written by Garry Marshall.Along with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks he was one of the best writers of the sixties.
Then he turned his hand to The Odd Couple,and became huge with Happy Days and all of it's spin-offs.My faves are still DVD,The Odd Couple.Without the Odd Couple we wouldn't have Cheers,or Frasier.

Beaches,Overboard,and Pretty Woman stand out as my faves from his film career.
He found women just as funny as men,and he was the Paul Fieg of his time.
An astonishing and wonderful career,thank you and RIP.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

Beaches.Never would have been a cinemaphile without it.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterSanty C.

Marshall makes the third Pretty Woman related death of the year: Natalie Cole (Wild Women Do) singer,Prince (referenced in the bathtub scene),and now its director.

Marshall cameos in Jumpin' Jack Flash (Penny's directorial debut) which is my favorite acting from him.

Laverne & Shirley,Beaches,and Pretty Woman are his most important contributions.

Condolences to his sister Penny who I love.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

frankie and johnny is my fave GM movie.michelle is pfantastic in it...i thought they totally triumphed over the "miscasting"issue by just making it about that character's loneliness.kate nelligan too,wonderful in that movie...wish she would come back.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterEric

Soapdish!And The Flamingo Kid.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Hollywood

brookesboy I disagree about Julia,SM AND MP got people to notice her but PW was her star turn a bit like WB for Jennifer Lawrence got her noticed THG AND SLP sealed the Movie Star deal or S for Bullock then WYWS & TN made her a Movie Star i could go back further or sooner but I think you'll get my drift.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered Commentermark

I had no idea he was 81 already!
What a sad loss...
I've not seen everything of his movies (or TV shows),but what I've seen so far I liked very much.
My favorite will always be Overboard,because it's so much fun,but Pretty Woman will always be a modern classic,too.
RIP!

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

I think The Princess Diaries is his best movie besides Pretty Woman.Somehow his romantic point-of-view feels less patronizing directed at kids/teens than it does toward adults.As you mentioned,it became pretty unbearable near the end.

I don't know anyone who'd watch Runaway Bride and think "this is exactly what love is like."Or even,"In my fantasy,this is what love is like."He never expected much intellectual/emotional sophistication from his audience.Unlike James L.Brooks and Mike Nichols whose films like Broadcast News and Working Girl achieve the same thematic goals with more maturity.

That said,Brooks made "Mary Tyler Moore"and Marshall made "Laverne and Shirley."The sophistication differential has been pretty obvious from the beginning.Pretty Woman is an undeniable classic,though.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W.

My favorites are Flamingo Kid and Nothing in Common,featuring a truly great Jackie Gleason performance.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered Commentergwynn1984

Oh,I guess my comment is a little harsh in light of the fact that I forgot about Frankie and Johnny.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W.

Little kid me watched Laverne & Shirley religiously.I don't especially like any of the movies he directed,by like Dave in Hollywood I greatly enjoyed his turn in Soapdish!That was the first way I thought of him when I heard the news.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

Hands down Beaches,I love that movie so so much.

brookesboy,Julia may have already been famous before Pretty Woman,but that movie turned her into a superstar.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterRami

@Eric

Pfeiffer has a line of dialogue she was definitely too young to convey through performance at the time -- "I'm old."Now if a less glamorous person said that who was actually older than Michelle Pfeiffer at the time nobody would question it.But it was the one instance where I was taken out of the movie.Think when Queen Latifah told Fanning in The Secret Life of Bees she was this girl's mother's nanny."I was her nanny."is the line.I hate Hollywood prematurely aging its actresses because it's never done for the men.Grown men get to play grown men.And baby face male eye candy play the young guy roles intended for them when they're young guys.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Tie for Beaches and Pretty Woman for me.

And fond tv memories as well...Schlemiel!Schlimazel!Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

"There's a nurse in the restaurant.Did I miss a meeting?"

RIP

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

He is very very funny in Soapdish.

And my love for both Beaches & Pretty Woman is almost an obscenity -- more of my brain is taken up with an encyclopedic knowledge of the two of those movies than I have reserved for actual childhood memories,I think.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Pretty Woman and Overboard will forever be classics.
But his number one film for me,has to be Frankie & Johnny;so understated,so bittersweet.I know nothing about the origins,or the play,so for me,Pfeiffer is note perfect.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterJB

My wishful thinking (not a dream exactly,maybe a daydream) to revive LAVERNE & SHIRLEY with Zoe Kazan and Zooey Deschanel just took a major hit.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrevity

Tuesday Nights on ABC: Happy Days,Laverne and Shirley,and Mork and Mindy!What a comedy block!

And Pretty Woman was one of the weirdest (and heterosexual) dates of my life.

So much re-watchable movie movies.Not great film,by any stretch,but movies about human beings."Overboard","Beaches"are beloved,and I remember really liking "The Flamingo Kid"bering really good too.

Rest in Peace.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

His contribution to entertainment alone merits his greatness.Yes,everything I would say sinceGeorgia Rulehas been shit but you can't deny that he gave usHappy Days,Mork & Mindy,andLaverne & Shirleyto make people enjoy TV while films likeOverboardandFrankie & Johnnyare excellent films.Plus,there's the classicPretty Womanwhere if it wasn't that film.We wouldn't have a movie star in Julia Roberts while Richard Gere would probably remain in obscurity.The Princess Diariesis a film I like a lot as it gave us Anne Hathaway.Thank you Garry.We will miss you.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

As a tribute to him,how about a post on The Furniture series about the production design of Beaches?I am just so curious about how on earth that movie get that sole Oscar nomination.

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

I have a soft spot for Frankie and Johnny and especially the heartbreaking performance he got out of Michelle Pfeiffer.It's one of my all-time favourite Pfeiffer performances

July 20,2016 | Unregistered CommenterRich

Love every minute of Beaches and always will.RIP.

July 21,2016 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

mark and Rami,I see what you're saying.To me,the word introduction is synonymous with film debut.But I'm getting caught up in semantics.lol

July 21,2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Considering how many stars he discovered,one of Marshall's great talents was casting.Makes sense that many of the people who have worked with him singled him out most for his generosity.

July 22,2016 | Unregistered CommenterBiggs

Sure his last few films were critical snafus - but there were critics that also hated Pretty Woman and Beaches - and they are arguably two of the most popular tearjerkers of all time .His biggest career blemish was giving Scott Baio a career head start.I agree he disgraced himself at the RNC ...but even worse I don't think he even bothered to acknowledge Gary's passing at all.Obviously Scott's hatred for anything 'liberal' extended to showing respect to Gary - a liberal .This is why Scott hasn't had a proper acting job for many years.

July 31,2016 | Unregistered CommenterBette Streep

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