Penny Marshall's Memoir 'My Mother Was Nuts' & 4 Other Books To Read In Honor Of The Legendary Director & Actress
The pioneering director and actor best known for her role on Laverne & Shirley, Penny Marshall, died on Monday night, leaving behind an incredible legacy, both in front and behind the camera. She was 75 years old. Over the course of her incredible career, the A League of Their Own director broke down barriers in what was, and still is, a male-dominated industry.
“Penny was a girl from the Bronx, who came out West, put a cursive ‘L’ on her sweater and transformed herself into a Hollywood success story,” her family told ABC News on Tuesday in a statement about Marshall's death. "We hope her life continues to inspire others to spend time with family, work hard and make all of their dreams come true."
Marshall launched her Hollywood career as an actress with roles on The Odd Couple and as one of the titular characters in the wildly popular television show Laverne & Shirley. But she decided she wanted to take her talented behind the camera, and there, Marshall broke new ground for female directors in an industry that rarely saw women succeed. In 1988, she became the first female director to earn $100 million at the box office for her movie Big, which starred a very young and very silly Tom Hanks. Four years later, she did it again with A League of Their Own. In between, in 1990, Marshall became the second woman director to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture for her movie Awakenings, starring Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams.
Marshall was a brilliant director, a gifted actress, and a truly talented writer. To learn more about her life and the works that inspired her career, check out these books.
'My Mother Was Nuts' by Penny Marshall
In her bestselling book, Marshall opens up about her unlikely road to stardom, one that she started as a 26-six-year-old divorced mother living in the Bronx and ended as one of Hollywood's most accomplished directors. A behind-the-scenes look at her life and her career, My Mother Was Nuts is a moving memoir about womanhood, fame, and so much more.
'Awakenings' by Oliver Sacks
In 1990, Marshall directed the Academy Award-nominated film Awakenings, based on this nonfiction book by famed British neurologist, naturalist, and author Oliver Sacks. It tells the remarkable story of a group of patients who were stricken with a sleeping-sickness just after WWI and remained in a trance-like state until 1969, when Dr. Sacks administered the then-new drug L-DOPA. The effect? An astonishing "awakening."
'Henry V' by William Shakespeare
Marshall's 1994 comedy Renaissance Man starred Danny DeVito as a down-on-his-luck divorced ad executive forced to take a temp job teaching literacy classes on an army base. His tool: Shakespeare. Throughout the course of the film, his surprisingly enthusiastic soldier students are introduced to Hamlet and Othello, but it's their recitation of the St. Crispin's Day Speech from Henry V that truly stands out.
'The Bishop's Wife' by Robert Nathan
Marshall's Academy Award-nominated 1996 film The Preacher's Wife, starring Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, and Courtney B. Vance, wasn't the first adaptation of Robert Nathan's novel by a similar name, but it might be the best. Like the movie, The Bishop's Wife tells the story of Michael, an angel who comes to Earth to help Henry Brougham raise money to build a cathedral for his overcrowded paris. But when Henry's wife, Julia, falls in love with Michael, the miracle takes a turn towards heartbreak.
'Riding in Cars with Boys' by Beverly Donofrio
The last film directed by Marshall, 2001's Riding in Cars with Boys is based on the autobiography of the same name by Beverly Donofrio. Several details in the movie differed from the original book, but both tell an emotional coming-of-age story about a troubled young girl who grows up to be a successful independent woman.