The 81-year-old director of 'Pretty Woman' and creator of 'Happy Days' passed away yesterday
It’s a pity that Garry Marshall’s parting shots as a movie director were three ensemble pieces that, despite being packed with seemingly every actor working in Hollywood right now, failed to capitalise on the brilliant comedic work that made him a household name. But while Mother’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and Valentine’s Day will likely not stand the test of time, they do, at the very least, stand as a testament to Marshall’s enthusiastic work ethic and the admiration the Hollywood community had for him to turn up on set in such great numbers.
At the age of 81, Marshall passed away yesterday. He is survived by his wife Barbara and their three children, and is mourned by the hundreds of actors he worked with across a career spanning six decades.
Marshall started off as a sitcom writer, with a unparalleled knack of creating hits. The Odd Couple, Happy Days, and Mork & Mindy turned actors like Ron Howard and Robin Williams into global stars, and added the phrase ‘jump the shark’ into the pop culture lexicon.
A brilliant character actor who popped up in scene-stealing cameos in the likes of A League of their Own and Soapdish, Marshall worked tirelessly to the very end. Recent credits include voicing a furious catfish movie director on Netflix’s cult animated hit Bojack Horseman and Fox’s police comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Here are six of Marshall’s projects that showcase his brilliantly light touch at crafting crowd-pleading comedies...
A bonkers plot that sees a carpenter wreak revenge on the spoiled wealthy woman who tries to stiff him on a job carried out on her luxury yacht, there are many reasons why this comedy shouldn’t work. Most notably because of the awkward plot device involving amnesiac slavery. But Marshall’s direction turns what could have been a mess into a breezy romcom, starring real-life couple Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. Heartwarming and hilarious, it’s the movie that taught the entire civilised world that closets are made of cedar.
Pretty Woman (1990)
Another problematic plot, but the smash hit movie that turned Julia Roberts into a star. The story of a prostitute with a heart – not to mention condoms – of gold, Marshall’s muse Julia Roberts earned a ‘Best Actress’ nomination at the Oscars, while the director delivered one of the most beloved romantic comedies of all time. Roberts and Gere would team up with Marshall again in 1999’s Runaway Bride, but the lightning in a bottle moment of Pretty Woman was never bettered.
Happy Days (1974)
Harking back to the 1950s, this period sitcom ran for 11 seasons, winning Golden Globes and Emmys along the way. While the series relied heavily on the effortlessly effortful cool of Henry Wrinkler’s Fonzie, it was Marshall’s writing that created well-drawn characters still loved decades after the show wrapped.
The Princess Diaries (2001)
Marshall’s silly take on the Disney princess brand turned Anne Hathaway into an eventual Oscar winner, although it was this movie that first realised a hair transformation was required for her to become a bona fide star. Marshall revealed that Dame Julie Andrews was one of his favourite stars to work with, saying “She could act, she could sing, she curses with perfect diction.” While the sequel was met with lukewarm reaction, it did give a leg up to an up and coming screenwriter by the name of Shonda Rhimes.
One of the greatest weepies of the 80s and a definitive chick flick, the melodrama has the same appeal of star Bette Midler’s Wind Beneath My Wings song that came out with it – if you like it, you really like it. But Midler and co-star Barbara Hershey mug their way through the maudlin and tragicomic tale of female friendship as best they can.
Mork & Mindy (1978)
A star vehicle for Robin Williams’ physical and lexical dexterity, this sitcom paved the way for his comedic talents to charm the world. As Mork, an alien from the planet Ork sent to Earth to observe human beings, Williams’ bumbling fool became a firm favourite with viewers, with his iconic catchphrase “Na-nu, na-nu!” etched into the annals of pop culture history.