Cindy Williams, who played Shirley in the hit television series “Laverne & Shirley” alongside Penny Marshall’s Laverne, passed away on Monday, her family announced.
Williams passed away at the age of 75 on Wednesday in Los Angeles, according to a statement published by her children Zak and Emily Hudson through family representative Liza Cranis.
“The loss of our lovely, humorous mother, Cindy Williams, has given us inexpressible sadness,” the statement said.”Getting to know her and taking care of her has been an honor and a pleasure. Everyone adored her because she was one of a kind—beautiful, generous, and endowed with a sharp wit and radiant personality.”
Williams had an extensive film career before she devoted herself to television; she appeared in films by George Cukor (1972’s “Travels With My Aunt”), George Lucas (1973’s “American Graffiti”), and Directors like Francis Ford Coppola (“The Conversation,” 1974) and others.
Nonetheless, she was most recognised for her role on “Laverne & Shirley,” an ABC spinoff of “Happy Days” that aired from 1976 to 1983 and was, at the time of its premiere, one of the most watched sitcoms on television.
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In the sitcom about two working-class women who lived together and worked on the assembly line of a Milwaukee brewery in the 1950s and 1960s, Williams played the more conventional Shirley Feeney to Marshall’s free-spirited Laverne DeFazio.
Williams stated in 2002 to The Associated Press, “They were beloved characters.”
While Feeney was naive and trusting, DeFazio had a short fuse and was constantly on the defensive. The story was inspired by the actors’ real-life experiences.
For each new season, “we’d build up a list of what abilities we had,” Marshall told the Associated Press in 2002. “On the episode, we had a scene when Cindy touched her tongue to her nose. I did some tap dancing there.
Williams told the AP in 2013 that rumors of a rift between her and Marshall on set were “a bit overdone” because of their “very different personalities.”
The show was a rarity for networks because it focused on working-class people, and its the opening song, “Give us any chance, we’ll seize it, read us any rule, we’ll break was an empowering message for the crowd. READ MORE-‘AGT: ALL STARS’: AFTER A STUNNING OG SONG PERFORMANCE, MANY BELIEVE MANDY HARVEY IS ALREADY A WINNER.
That introduction would eventually surpass the show’s own popularity. The “schlemiel, schlimazel” chant that Williams and Marshall used to chant while skipping became a cultural phenomenon and a frequently referenced piece of nostalgia.
When Garry Marshall’s brother passed away in 2018, so did the series he co-created.
Michael McKean and David Lander portrayed Laverne and Shirley’s quirky friends Lenny and Squiggy, respectively, on the program. In 2020, Lander tragically lost his life.
As the show’s popularity waned in its sixth season, the cast relocated from Milwaukee to Burbank, California, and left their careers in the brewery industry for those in retail.
Williams became pregnant in 1982 and requested reduced hours. She left the set and sued the production company because they didn’t meet her demands. During the final season, she had a little role.
Williams was born in Van Nuys, California, in 1947, the older of two sisters. She was born in Los Angeles but her family relocated to Dallas, where she spent some time before returning to pursue a theatre arts degree at LA City College and a career as an actress at Birmingham High.
She made her acting debut on television in 1969 with guest spots on shows like “Love, American Style,” “Nanny and the Professor,” and “Room 222.”
Her part in George Lucas’s American Graffiti would go down in history as a career high point. There was a prelude to the subsequent nostalgia wave for the ’50s and ’60s in this picture. It’s been a great time, “co-star Ron Howard (from “American Graffiti”) in a new film that would debut the following year. Before they had their own series, Laverne and Shirley were regulars on Fonzie, starring Henry Winkler.
Even though Carrie Fisher ultimately got the part, Lucas did consider her for the role of Princess Leia in “Star Wars.”
Williams has appeared in numerous television shows over the past three decades, including “7th Heaven,” “8 Simple Rules,” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” She and Marshall guest starred on an episode of “Sam and Cat” (also on Nickelodeon) that paid homage to “Laverne & Shirley” in 2013.
Williams performed a one-woman performance entitled “Me, Myself, and Shirley” last year, in which she recounted anecdotes from her professional life “at a movie theatre in Palm Springs, California (not far from her actual location in nearby Desert Hot Springs).
From 1982 to 2000, Williams was married to Bill Hudson, lead singer of the band the Hudson Brothers. The two kids she had were Hudson’s. He is the father of actress Kate Hudson and was formerly married to Goldie Hawn.
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