Pop Culture

Garry Marshall, Legendary Hollywood Producer, Director and Writer, Dies at 81

'Pretty Woman' director Garry Marshall dies at 81 2:32

Garry Marshall, the legendary writer and director who created the wildly popular television programs “Happy Days," "The Odd Couple," "Laverne & Shirley" and "Mork & Mindy" has died at the age of 81.

Publicist Michelle Bega told NBC News that Marshall died Tuesday at a hospital in Burbank, California, of complications from pneumonia after having a stroke.

Funeral services will be private, his publicists said in a statement. "A memorial is being planned for his birthday on November 13."

Premiere Of Open Road Films' "Mother's Day" - Arrivals
American actor, director, writer, and producer Garry Marshall arrives at the Seattle premiere of 'Mother's Day' before receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Seattle International Film Festival at Cinerama Theater on April 25 in Seattle. Mat Hayward / Getty Images

Marshall, born Garry Kent Maschiarelli in the Bronx in 1934, began his career as a writer but would go on to create some of the biggest hit shows of the 1970s and direct bigscreen blockbuster "Pretty Woman" and other films. Julia Roberts was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in the film.

"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 also directed the films "The Flamingo Kid" in 1984, "Beaches" in 1988, and “The Princess Diaries” in 2001, among others.

Marshall said in an interview that he began writing as a young man "because I was sick all the time ... when you're sick in bed there's not much you can do. So I would write things." He worked as a reporter for the New York Daily News before getting into television writing.

Marshall later recalled that the show that made him interested in television was the variety show "Caesar’s Hour," which ran in the 1950s. "Caesar's Hour was the most influential show 'cause then I looked, I said, 'I could do that,'" Marshall said in an interview with the Archive of American Television.

In 1970 Marshall had a substantial hit when he developed and produced an adaptation of Neil Simon's play "The Odd Couple" for ABC. The show earned four Emmy nominations and wins for stars Jack Klugman and Tony Randall.

Marshall created the hit show "Happy Days," which ran for 11 seasons through 1984. During its peak, "Happy Days" was the No. 1 show on television during the 1976-77 season, No. 2 in 1977-78 and No. 4 the following year, and Henry Winkler's the Fonz became a cultural touchstone, with his leather jacket eventually landing in the Smithsonian.

Winkler on Twitter Tuesday called Marshall "larger than life, funnier than most, wise and the definition of friend."

Years later Marshall acknowledged being the one behind the idea, for a 1977 episode, of putting Fonzie on water skis — an idea so outlandish that it spawned the phrase "jumped the shark," said in reference to a show that is clearly past its prime.

Marshall also created "Laverne & Shirley” in 1976 and “Mork & Mindy” in 1978, and was among the creators of the TV hit “The Odd Couple” in 1970. He also wrote for the "The Danny Thomas Show" and "The Lucy Show."

Marshall received more than a dozen awards during his career, and was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1983. He was nominated for Emmy awards five times — for "Mork & Mindy" in 1979 and four times for "The Odd Couple."

Marshall received the American Comedy Awards' Creative Achievement Award in 1990, the Writers Guild of America's Valentine Davies Award in 1995, the PGA's Honorary Lifetime Membership Award and Lifetime Achievement Award in Television in 1998 and the American Cinema Editors' Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award in 2004. In 1997 he was inducted into the Academy of Television, Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame.

Marshall is survived by his wife, Barbara, to whom he was married since 1963; son Scott, a film director; and daughters Lori, an actress and casting director, and Kathleen, an actress; a number of grandchildren; and sisters Penny Marshall, an actress and film director, and Ronny Hallin, a TV producer.