Pretty Woman director Garry Marshall dies at 81 | hollywood | Hindustan Times
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Pretty Woman director Garry Marshall dies at 81

Hollywood filmmaker Garry Marshall, of Pretty Woman fame, died at the age of 81 late on Tuesday. Garry, the older brother of director-actress Penny Marshall, is known for hits like Pretty Woman (1990) and The Princess Diaries. Mother’s Day, which released this April.

hollywood Updated: Jul 21, 2016 07:38 IST
Hindustan Times
Garry Marshall,Pretty Woman,The Princess Diaries
Actor, director and best known as the producer of the Happy Days series, Gary Marshall arrives on the red carpet for the 50th anniversary birthday bash of the Hollywood Walk of Fame at the Kodak Theater in a file photo from November 2010. (AFP/Getty Images)

Hollywood writer-director Garry Marshall, whose deft touch with comedy and romance led to a string of TV hits that included Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley and the box-office hits Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride and Princess Diaries , died late on Tuesday in a hospital in Burbank (California). He was 81.

Marshall died of complications from pneumonia after having a stroke, his publicist Michelle Bega said in a statement.

Marshall, the older brother of director-actress Penny Marshall, is best known for hits like Pretty Woman (1990) and The Princess Diaries. Mother’s Day, which released this April, was his last film that also reunited him with Pretty Woman star Julia Roberts.

Watch Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman

Marshall and his wife, Barbara, had three children, Lori, Kathleen and Scott. His funeral services will be private, but a memorial is being planned for his birthday on November 13, the statement said.

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Apart from writing and directing films, Garry also had on-screen presence where he used his New York accent and gruff delivery in colorful supporting roles that included a practical-minded casino boss unswayed by Albert Brooks’ disastrous luck in Lost in America and a crass network executive in Soapdish. “In the neighborhood where we grew up in, the Bronx, you only had a few choices,” Marshall said in a 1980s interview. “You were either an athlete or a gangster, or you were funny.”

Marshall, brother of actress-director Penny Marshall, earned a degree in journalism from Northwestern University and worked at the New York Daily News. But he found he was better at writing punchlines.

He began his entertainment career in the 1960s selling jokes to comedians, then moved to writing sketches for The Tonight Show with Jack Paar in New York. He caught the eye of comic Joey Bishop, who brought him to Los Angeles to write for The Joey Bishop Show.

Sitcoms quickly proved to be Marshall’s forte. He turned out scripts for the most popular comedies of the ‘60s, including The Lucy Show, The Danny Thomas Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show.

Watch Princess Diaries trailer

Marshall and Belson detoured into screenwriting in 1967 with How Sweet It Is, starring Debbie Reynolds, and followed it up with The Grasshoppers (1970) with Jacqueline Bisset. But the two men kept their hand in TV.

In 1970, they turned Neil Simon’s Broadway hit, The Odd Couple, into a sitcom starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall and produced by Marshall. It ran for five seasons and proved the beginning of a TV sitcom empire.

In January 1979, Marshall had three of the top five comedies on the air with Happy Days, which ran from 1974-84; Laverne & Shirley (1976-83), which starred sister Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams, and Mork and Mindy (1978-82) with newcomer Robin Williams.

“Critics have knocked me for targeting society’s lowest common denominator,” he said in his 1995 autobiography, Wake Me When It’s Funny, written with his daughter, Lori Marshall. “I believe that television was, and still is, the only medium that can truly reach society’s lowest common denominator and entertain those people who maybe can’t afford a movie or a play. So why not reach them and do it well?” he said.

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Penny Marshall told The New York Times in 2001 that her brother “has a life. He’s not into the show business glitterati. If he has a hot movie, that’s great. But if he has something that doesn’t do great, he’s not around those people who won’t speak to you or will make you feel terrible.”

After cranking out what Marshall once estimated to be 1,000 sitcom episodes, he switched his focus to the big screen with 1984’s The Flamingo Kid, a coming-of-age story starring Matt Dillon, which Marshall wrote and directed.

He concentrated on directing with his later films, including 1986’s Nothing in Common, with Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason; Overboard (1987) starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell; Beaches (1988) with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey; Pretty Woman (1990) with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere and Dear God (1996) with John Denver and George Burns.

The Gere-Roberts pairing that helped make Pretty Woman a smash hit did the same for Runaway Bride, which reunited them in 1999. The Princess Diaries in 2001 was another winner, although Marshall suffered a flop with Georgia Rule (2007), starring Jane Fonda and Lindsay Lohan.

Read: Bryan Adams composes for Pretty Woman musical

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