On Tuesday, July 19, film and television legend Garry Marshall passed away at the age of 81. The director, writer, and producer had a lengthy and celebrated career that traversed across both TV and film, and though in recent years, Marshall has been lauded mostly for his silver screen contributions — a slew of romantic comedy gold with films like Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, and The Princess Diaries — many might not realize that it's television where Marshall initially left his mark.
Beginning his legacy all the way back as a comedy writer on The Tonight Show With Jack Paar and The Dick Van Dyke Show, Marshall had a sharp wit and a keen understanding of what made people laugh. He became the heralded TV king of the '70s when he created and produced the iconic sitcoms Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley, as well as co-created The Odd Couple and Mork & Mindy. In a career that spanned five decades, Marshall was an unstoppable force responsible for some of television's most beloved shows and iconic moments. Here's a look at some of his most memorable contributions to the television landscape, a world he changed forever, from over the years.
The Odd Couple
In 1970, Marshall took Neil Simon's Broadway hit, The Odd Couple, and turned it into a sitcom. The Odd Couple starred Tony Randall as the uptight Felix Ungar and Jack Klugman as the insouciant Oscar Madison. The show signaled the beginning of Marshall's empire and reign over the television sitcom.
In 1974, Marshall struck gold with Happy Days, arguably TV's most well-known and influential comedy that gave birth to one of the most recognizable characters in TV history — Arthur Fonzarelli, aka the Fonz. The series was so popular that it spawned spin-offs that each turned into hits of their own: Laverne & Shirley (1976-83) and Mork and Mindy (1978-82).
Laverne & Shirley
Laverne & Shirley starred Marshall's sister, Penny, and Cindy Williams as two roommates who worked as bottlecappers in Milwaukee. As a show starring two single, career oriented women, Laverne & Shirley was a revelation for TV, and hugely influential.
Mork And Mindy
Mork and Mindy introduced the world to Robin Williams as Mork, an alien who comes to Earth from the planet Ork. Pam Dawber co-starred as Mindy McConnell, Mork's roommate. At this point, it had become clear that Marshall's "odd couple" pairing was a type of formula, but it didn't matter, because he had both created and mastered the equation.