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Updated: December 18, 2018
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(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photos courtesy of KSWB-TV & ABC-TV)


...Penny Marshall...
(1943 - 2018)
(© Photo courtesy of KSWB-TV)
'A League Of Their Own' Director Penny Marshall passed away

HOLLYWOOD HILLS, LOS ANGELES, California (USA) - Penny Marshall, the director of the wellknown baseball-movie A League Of Their Own (1992) and former actress, passed away on Monday (December 17) at age 75 due to complications from diabetes. Penny Marshall was a life long baseball fan, especially of the New York Yankees, as she was born and grew up in The Bronx. She was an avid collector of sports memorabilia and had a collection of several signed baseball, footballs and basketballs.

A League Of Their Own, which had a great cast, went on to become very populair and is labeled as one of the best sports movies ever. Most cast and crew-members continued having successful careers, winning several major awards.

Carole Penny Marshall was born on October 15, 1943 in The Bronx, New York. She was the sister of Garry Marshall, who was the creator and writer of several wellknown television comedy series, including The Odd Couple (1970-1975), Happy Days (1974-1984), Laverne & Shirley (1976-1983) and Mork & Mindy (1978-1982). He also wrote several episodes for TV-shows The Lucy Show (1964-1966) and The Dick Van Dyke Show (1964-1966).

In Laverne & Shirley, his sister Penny played the part of Laverne DeFazio. In 1971-1981, Penny Marshall was married to Rob Reiner, who currently is a successful director, but for always will be known as Michael 'Meathead' Stivic, the role he played in All in the Family.

After having played several small parts in different series, Penny Marshall got her first break on The Odd Couple. In 1975, she first played the part of Laverne DeFazio in an episode of Happy Days with Cindy Williams playing Shirley Feeney. In the episode, Laverne and Shirley were acquaintances of Fonzie (Henry Winkler). The episode was a big success and a spin-off was created with the name Laverne & Shirley, which ran for eight seasons and 178 episodes. This series brought her fame. As her character Laverne DeFazio, she also made guest-appearances in Mork & Mindy.

...Penny Marshall as Laverne...
...DeFazio in the TV-series...
...Laverne & Shirley (1976)...
(© Publicity Photo by ABC-TV)
In the eighties, Penny Marshall started directing films. She directed her first movie in 1986, which was Jumpin' Jack Flash, a comedy with Whoopi Goldberg. Hereafter, she was the director of comedy Big in starring Tom Hanks and the drama Awakenings with Robert De Niro and Robin Williams in 1990. The two films were successful, as Tom Hanks was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Golden Globe for his role in Big. Robert De Niro also was nominated for an Academy Award (Oscar) for Awakenings, while Robin Williams was nominated for a Golden Globe.

Penny Marshall's next project was A League of Their Own in 1992. Starring in this film were Tom Hanks, Geena Davis (who already had won an Oscar), Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell, Lori Petty and Jon Lovitz. Wellknown baseball coach Rod Dedeaux was an advisor.

In the crew, there were several artists who had been nominated for Academy Awards, including Director of Photography Miroslav Ondrícek, who had been nominated twice for an Oscar, in 1981 for Ragtime and in 1985 for Amadeus and Set Decorator George DeTitta, Jr., who won Oscar-nominations for Ragtime (Art Direction/Set Decoration, 1982) and Radio Days (Art Direction/Set Decoration, 1988).

The music for the film also was in capable hands, as it was composed by Hans Zimmer, who already had worked on several wellknown movies and would continue to do so in following years. Zimmer has more than 200 composing credits, including for Rain Man (1988), Twister (1989, directed by Dutchman Jan de Bont), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Thelma & Louise (1991), Backdraft (1991), Toys (1992), The Lion King (1994), Gladiator (2000), Mission: Impossible II (2000), Pearl Harbor (2001), Madagascar (2005), The Da Vinci Code (2006), The Dark Knight (2008), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), Hidden Figures (2016) and Dunkirk (2017). He also worked on Johnny English (theme music, 2003), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (music score producer, 2003) and Despicable Me (score producer, 2010) amongst many other films. Zimmer was nominated ten times for an Academy Award (Oscar), which he won in 1995 for The Lion King. He also was nominated 14 times for a Golden Globe, which he won twice.

A League of Their Own depicts the years during World War II when most men were serving in the military, including several Major League-players. Major League-teams added Minor League-players and retired players. Most other regular jobs were filled in by women. Several owners of baseball-teams decided to form teams with women to fill in the void. Scouts were sent throughout the country to search for women to play baseball. One of these scouts is Ernie Capadino (played by Jon Lovitz). Amongst the players are the very talented catcher Dottie Hinson (played by Geena Davis) and her sister and pitcher Kit Keller (played by Lori Petty), outfielder Mae Mordabito (played by Madonna) and 3rd baseman Doris Murphy (played by Rosie O'Donnell). Jimmy Dugan (played by Tom Hanks) becomes the coach of the team, the Rockford Peaches. He delivered one of the most popular and quoted lines in movie-history when he said: ''There is no crying in baseball!''

The storyline of the movie was inspired by the career of legendary Dottie Collins, who played in the All-American Girls Professional League (AAGPL) during World War II. The character played by Geena Davis is partly based on her and other players from the AAGPL. The teams and the league became very popular in those years. The league grew to ten teams and existed through the fifties.

During auditions for the film, all actresses had to prove they could play baseball. All actresses did their own baseball-plays and stunts, except for Geena Davis. She joined the production a few days before the filming started. She practiced for weeks and became very good in playing baseball. Several real players from the AAGPL appear in the film during a scene at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

A League of Their Own not only became one of the most successful baseball films ever, but is also considered one of the sports films in general. Penny Marshall became the first female director to direct two movies that grossed over 100 million Dollars in the USA. She became the first female director to accomplish the feat with Big in 1988. Geena Davis was nominated as Best Actress for a Golden Globe for her role as Dottie Hinson. The film won several awards, including the Hochi Film Award (Japan) for Best Foreign Film and a BMI Film & TV Award for Hans Zimmer for Best Music.

Of the principal cast, Geena Davis was nominated twice for an Oscar, which she won in 1989 for The Accidental Tourist. She was nominated four times for a Golden Globe, which she won in 2006 for Commander in Chief. Tom Hanks was nominated five times for an Oscar in his career so far. He won the Academy Award in two consecutive years, in 1994 for Philadelphia and in 1995 for Forrest Gump. He also was nominated for eight Golden Globes, which he won three times. Madonna was nominated for seven Golden Globes, including for Best Original Song for A League Of Their Own. She won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in 1997 for Evita and Best Original Song in 2012 for W.E..

In 1994, Penny Marshall also directed Renaissance Man with Danny DeVito and Gregory Hines. She was currently working as the director of a documentary of NBA Basketball Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman. The documentary is in post-production and is scheduled to be released in September next year.

In 2004, Penny Marshall received a star on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame at Hollywood Boulevard.

(December 18)

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