Lets raise a toast of Pepsi and milk to Penny Marshal, a comic genius who was in a league of her own.
Like Laverne, she did it her way.
With her distinctive nasal New York voice so redolent of the Grand Concourse in the Bronx she was a trailblazer who didn’t fit a traditional mold, carving out her unique and permanent place in pop culture history and in our hearts.
Not unlike her iconic character Laverne, Penny Marshal was exuberant and eccentric. Never a conventional beauty she was unapologetic and owned her presence. Abrasive but warm-hearted, vulnerable but strong as steel. And funny. Boy was she funny.
A pioneering director and producer she made studio films when very few women did. She hit is out of the park grossing $100 million with “Big’ and another home run with “A League of Their Own.” That alone puts her in the Hall of Fame.
Born Carole Penny Marshall in the Bronx she was named by her parents after that great 1930’s screwball comedienne Carole Lombard. Marshal eventually dropped the Carole, but the screwball part stuck.
Making Our Dreams Come True
Is there a person of a certain generation who does not know the words to the opening theme of “Laverne and Shirley” who is not softly singing it to themselves this morning?
The image of two girls skipping down the street in Milwaukee arm in arm improbably reciting a Yiddish American hopscotch chant “Shlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!” is indelibly imprinted in all our collective consciousness.
Ironically Penny was neither a schlemiel or a schlimazel.
With her comedy chops rivaling Lucille Balls’ she was not a schlemiel which is a clumsy person, nor was she a schlimazel, an unlucky one. Penny Marshall achieved enormous success in her life.
And aren’t we the lucky ones.