Cindy Williams mourns ‘Laverne & Shirley’ co-star Penny Marshall’s death

Cindy Williams is honoring her beloved co-star and friend Penny Marshall, who died on Monday.

“What an extraordinary loss. My good friend, Penny Marshall is gone —one in a million,” she told TODAY in a statement. “Utterly unique, a truly great talent. And, oh what fun we had! Can’t describe how I’ll miss her.”

Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams pose at a reception after a ceremony honoring each of them with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on August 12, 2004 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

Williams starred as Shirley Feeney opposite Marshall, who played Laverne DeFazio in the hit ABC comedy “Laverne & Shirley.” The series, which aired from 1976 to 1983, was among the biggest hits of its era.

The actresses had a complicated relationship off-screen when the show was on the air, but later reconciled and remained friends.

Marshall, who grew up in the Bronx, died in her Los Angeles home on Monday due to complications from diabetes, her publicist Michelle Bega said. “Our family is heartbroken,” the Marshall family said in a statement.

During the show’s run from 1976 to 1983, Marshall earned three Golden Globe nominations for the role of Laverne.

Her work on “Laverne” also gave Marshall her start as a filmmaker. She directed several episodes of “Laverne & Shirley” before making her feature film directorial debut in “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” the 1986 comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg.

Her 1988 hit comedy “Big,” starring Tom Hanks, was about a 12-year-old boy who wakes up in the body of a 30-year-old New York City man. The film earned Hanks an Oscar nomination and made Marshall the first woman to direct a film grossing more than $100 million.

Marshall reteamed with Hanks for “A League of Their Own,” the 1992 comedy about the women’s professional baseball league begun during World War II. That, too, crossed $100 million, making $107.5 million domestically.

Marshall was married to Michael Henry for two years in the 1960s and to the director Rob Reiner from 1971-1981. Their daughter Tracy Reiner is an actress; one of her first roles was a brief appearance in her mother’s “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”

Marshall is also survived by her older sister, Ronny, and three grandchildren.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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