There’s a bit of sadness in the comedy air today as we’re all reeling from the sad news that iconic movie director and producer Garry Marshall died late last night at the age of 81. The Hollywood legend passed away from complications of pneumonia following a stroke, which was in a statement released by Marshall’s long-time publicist, Michelle Bega.
On his long, long list of accomplishments, Marshall directed and produced a slew of iconic T.V. shows including The Odd Couple, Mork & Mindy, Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley, which famously co-starred Marshalls’s younger sister, Penny. He also maintained a marvelous film career that includes 18 films, among them Beaches, Overboard, Runaway Bride, Valentine’s Day, Frankie & Johnny, Georgia Rule and this year’s Mother’s Day.
But perhaps his most notable achievement (it’s a close finish with The Fonz) came in 1990 when we were welcomed into the fabulous world of a little film called Pretty Woman. Not only did the movie break all kinds of bank at the box office, but it made an A list star out of its leading lady Julia Roberts, and it welcomed (sigh) Richard Gere back into the Hollywood game after the actor was caught up in a string of box office duds in the late ’80s.
Of course, without Marshall’s theatrical genius, our Sony Walkman headphones wouldn’t have blessed with the accompanying 5 times platinum Pretty Woman soundtrack, which contains all the hits including’s Roy Orbison’s iconic title track, the late Natalie Cole’s “Wild Woman Do,” Go West’s “King of Wishful Thinking” and Roxette’s classic rock ballad, “It Must Have Been Love,” which cried it out all the way to the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
In a year that’s already been oh, so quickly filled with a long list of iconic Hollywood deaths, Marshall is yet another famed figure we lost too soon. However, although he may not no longer be with us, his angelic spirit will certainly carry on (as well as on Netflix forever), and will also grace the stage next year as it was confirmed by Bega that Marshall had just finished a rewrite for a Broadway-bound musical version of Pretty Woman.
Those of us who’ve lived for every Garry Marshall pop culture moment in time know that his brilliance was in a comedy class of its very own and had one goal and one goal only–to take the viewer away into a happy place, all puns intended. So if you are one of those out there today who may be hearing his name for the first time, take a little time to get lost in some of his greatest work and experience his magic, because if you don’t you’ll be making a big mistake…huge.
Rest in Peace, Mr. Garry Marshall.