From left, Edward K. Milkis, Tom Miller and Mr. Marshall in Los Angeles in 1978. Credit Nick Ut/Associated Press

If one were to count up the number of times any American — or maybe anyone anywhere — laughed in the last half-century, the person responsible for more of those laughs than anyone else might well be Garry Marshall, who died at 81 on Tuesday in Burbank, Calif.

It would be difficult to overstate Mr. Marshall’s effect on American entertainment. His work in network television and Hollywood movies fattened the archive of romantic, family and buddy comedies and consistently found the sweet spot smack dab in the middle of the mainstream.

Indeed, Mr. Marshall was one of the forces directing that mainstream, working with A-list stars from the 1960s (Lucille Ball and Danny Thomas, among others) into the early years of the 21st century (Anne Hathaway, for instance, whom he directed in the coming-of-age-as-royalty film “The Princess Diaries”).

Beginning in the ‘60s, his television work alone included writing scripts for the well-remembered, star-driven comedies “Make Room for Daddy” (with Mr. Thomas), “The Lucy Show” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” In 1970, with Jerry Belson, a frequent early writing partner, he adapted Neil Simon’s play “The Odd Couple” into the ABC television series of the same name, starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman as the mismatched roommates, the neatnik Felix and the slob Oscar.

Mr. Marshall went on to create, in 1974, “Happy Days,” a fondly nostalgic parody of middle-American life in the 1950s and early ’60s featuring a roster of stereotypical young people, including Ron Howard as Richie, the straight arrow, and Henry Winkler as the rebellious, leather-jacketed charmer known as the Fonz.

(The lawyer Martin Garbus, who was a friend of Mr. Marshall’s from their early teens, and who confirmed the death, said in an interview that he was the model for Richie and that the other characters in the show were generally based on Mr. Marshall’s friends from the Bronx, though “Happy Days” was set in Milwaukee.)

A hit in itself, the show begat other hits. One featured the charmingly innocent, logorrheic space alien Mork, from Ork, played by Robin Williams, who appeared in a “Happy Days” episode in early 1978 and became the central character in “Mork & Mindy,” a show created by Mr. Marshall with Joe Glauberg and Dale McRaven. They set Mork down in Boulder, Colo., where he befriends a young woman, played by Pam Dawber, who patiently teaches him the ways of earthlings and eventually marries him.

“Happy Days” lent another long-running show, “Laverne & Shirley,” both a setting and its main characters. Created by Mr. Marshall with Lowell Ganz and Mark Rothman, it was about a pair of blue-collar single women — Laverne DeFazio, played by Mr. Marshall’s younger sister Penny, and Shirley Feeney, played by Cindy Williams — who work at a brewery. They had been introduced to the “Happy Days” audience when they went on a double date with the Fonz and Richie.

“Garry Marshall had a feel for Everyman, blue-collar comedy that matched exactly the young, blue-collar audience that made up the base of ABC’s appeal,” Bill Carter, the former longtime television reporter for The New York Times and now a commentator for CNN, said in an email. “He was the dominant figure in the rise of that long downtrodden network to a run of ratings supremacy in the 1970s. It was the first time ABC had ever ascended to the top of television.”

Mr. Marshall accepting the Legend Award at the TV Land Awards in 2008. Behind him, from left, are Henry Winkler, Cindy Williams and Jack Klugman. Credit Fred ProuserReuters

Mr. Marshall began directing movies in the 1980s. Several were high-concept star vehicles that dealt with mismatched pairs: “Nothing in Common” (1986), a reconciliation story with Jackie Gleason and Tom Hanks as cantankerous father and resentful son; “Overboard” (1987), which proposes that a meanspirited heiress with amnesia (Goldie Hawn) can be persuaded to believe she is the wife of a carpenter (Kurt Russell); and, most famously, “Pretty Woman” (1990), a Cinderella tale — and a gigantic hit — set in contemporary Los Angeles, about a hooker with a heart of gold (Julia Roberts) and her Prince Charming, a ruthless corporate raider (Richard Gere).



Garry Marshall, ‘Pretty Woman’ Director, Dies at 81; a TV and Film Comedy Mastermind

Mr. Marshall’s work in TV and movies fattened the archive of romantic, family and buddy comedies and found a sweet spot in the middle of the mainstream.

Garry Marshall, ‘Pretty Woman’ Director, Dies at 81; a TV and Film Comedy Mastermind
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Andrea Mandell, USA TODAY 1:28 a.m. EDT July 20, 2016


Hollywood actor, director, writer and producer Garry Marshall has died at the age of 81.

Hollywood actor, director, writer and producer Garry Marshall is gone at age 81.

The comedy giant died at 5 p.m. PT Tuesday from complications of pneumonia following a stroke at a hospital in Burbank, Calif., his representative Michelle Bega confirmed to USA TODAY.

A beloved figure in show business, Marshall leaves behind a legacy as a hitmaker on television and in films, a comedian with impeccable delivery, and a warm personality to those he encountered.

He was born in the Bronx to a tap dance teacher and an industrial film director. “My mother was special, she gave us our humor,” Marshall recalled in an interview with USA TODAY in April. “I remember her saying, ‘Never be boring.You gotta entertain people.’ And at 16 years old, I didn’t know what boring meant. I said, ‘What is boring, Ma?’ She said, ‘Your father,’ ” he said, chuckling.

Marshall broke into showbiz in the late 1950s as a joke writer, eventually earning his way to becoming a writer on The Tonight Show with Jack Paar. In 1970, Marshall adapted his first TV hit, The Odd Couple, from a play with writing partner Jerry Belson. He went on to create sitcoms Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley (which starred his sister, Penny Marshall) and Mork & Mindy (which introduced the world to Robin Williams).

In the ’80s, Marshall turned his talents to feature films, finding his first hit with The Flamingo Kid (1984), followed by Overboard (1987) and Beaches (1989).

The hits kept coming, from 1990’s Pretty Woman (which propelled Julia Roberts to stardom), 1999’s Runaway Bride and 2001’s The Princess Diaries (which made Anne Hathaway a household name).

Then came the celebrity-filled, holiday-themed comedies: 2010’s Valentine’s Day, 2011’s New Year’s Eve and this year, Mother’s Day.

He was also a memorable actor, starring in ’90s films such as Soapdish and A League of Their Own and serving as micro-managing network president Stan Lansing on TV’s Murphy Brown. More recently, he appeared on episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Bojack Horseman and Hot in Cleveland.

The spirit on Marshall’s set is all about family, he told USA TODAY recently. Longtime friend Hector Elizondo was in 18 films of Marshall’s films; in Mother’s Day, Marshall’s wife, Barbara, had a cameo. Roberts starred in four films for her director. Kate Hudson’s family was entwined with his — not only did she star in Marshall’s Raising Helen (2004) but also yelled “Action!” from Marshall’s lap as a kid when her mother, Goldie Hawn, starred in Overboard.

“On Mother’s Day, I had Kate’s son (Bingham) on my lap when Kate was acting,” Marshall told USA TODAY. “It’s all circles. I know the family. I see them grow.”

He remained prolific, having recently finished a rewrite of Pretty Woman for the Broadway-bound musical. “He loved telling stories, making people laugh, and playing softball, winning numerous championships,” read a statement sent by his rep. “Even at age 81, he had a record this year of 6 – 1 pitching for his team.”

Funeral services will be private, and a memorial is being planned for his birthday on Nov. 13.

 Marshall is survived by his wife of 53 years, nurse Barbara Sue Marshall; two sisters, Ronny Hallin and Penny Marshall; three children, Lori, a writer, Kathleen, a theater producer, and Scott, a film and TV director; and six grandchildren.Contributing: Bryan Alexander




Betsy Bloomingdale

Betsy Bloomingdale, a department store heir’s widow who hobnobbed with the world’s elite, epitomized high fashion and was best friends with former first lady Nancy Reagan, has died. She was 93.

The socialite and philanthropist died Tuesday at her home in the exclusive Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles from congestive heart failure, her daughter-in-law, Justine Bloomingdale, said Thursday.

The daughter of a Beverly Hills doctor, she married Alfred S. Bloomingdale — heir to the New York department store fortune — in 1946.

She patronized the hottest of haute couture designers in Europe and regularly made best-dressed lists. In 1976, she was fined after pleading guilty to altering an invoice to undervalue the price of imported Dior gowns.

Her home had 11 closets. She was quoted on style by fashion magazines and designed loungewear for the Swirl brand in the 1980s.

She also lectured on style.

“She maintained that the quality of one’s lifestyle does not necessarily depend on wealth; that a sense of style and taste are acquired with knowledge, not money,” according to an obituary from her family.

“She’s really a fashion icon,” the designer James Galanos told Women’s Wear Daily in 2009. “She still has a great figure. She’s tall and willowy. She knows what’s stylish and what suits her.”

When not jet-setting to Europe to shop or visit royalty, Bloomingdale was renowned for hosting parties — many for charity — at the family’s Los Angeles mansion, where neighbors included celebrities such as Barbra Streisand.

She was a guest in 1981 at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.

Bloomingdale and her husband were good friends for decades with the Reagans. Bloomingdale was among the friends in Reagan’s “kitchen cabinet” who served as unofficial advisors and helped propel the actor to the presidency.

She was best friends with the first lady, dispensing tips on fashion and design.

The Bloomingdales were regulars in get-togethers at the Reagans’ California ranch and the White House and she remained close to Nancy Reagan after Ronald Reagan died in 2004.

“Like any widow, she adjusted,” Bloomingdale told People magazine this year. “But Nancy missed Ronnie terribly and always.”

When her own husband died of cancer in 1982, Bloomingdale became embroiled in a scandal after his longtime mistress, Vicki Morgan, sued her and the estate, contending she had been promised lifetime support. The suit was later dismissed.

Bloomingdale’s deep Roman Catholic faith and her own toughness helped her cope with the scandal, her daughter-in-law said.

“She was just an amazing woman,” Justine Bloomingdale said. “She just held her head up high and kept moving.”

An only child, Bloomingdale was thrilled to belong to a large family and “she always entertained everybody at every holiday,” her daughter-in-law said.

Bloomingdale is survived by her sons, Geoffrey and Robert; a daughter, Lisa Bell; eight grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.




A.J. Perez, USA TODAY Sports 1:19 p.m. EDT July 22, 2016

Former NFL head coach Dennis Green died late Thursday night from complications of cardiac arrest, his family confirmed Friday. He was 67.

Green coached in the NFL for 13 seasons, the first 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings (1992-2001). He also coached three seasons (2004-06) with the Arizona Cardinals.

He compiled a 113-94 record in the NFL in 13 seasons.

“We are incredibly saddened by the sudden passing of former Vikings Head Coach Dennis Green,” the Vikings said in a statement. “Denny made his mark in ways far beyond being an outstanding football coach. He mentored countless players and served as a father figure for the men he coached.

“Denny founded the Vikings Community Tuesday Program, a critical initiative that is now implemented across the entire NFL. He took great pride in helping assistant coaches advance their careers. His tenure as one of the first African American head coaches in both college and the NFL was also transformative. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Green family.”

Green is the Vikings’ second-winningest coach in franchise history behind only Bud Grant. He led Minnesota to the playoffs in eight of his 10 seasons, and was the coach of the 1998 15-1 team that set a then-record for points in a single season with 556.

Green returned to the head-coaching ranks with the Cardinals but went 16-32 in three years. The most iconic moment of his tenure was his “they are who we thought they were” rant after Arizona fell to the Chicago Bears in 2006 despite having a 20-0 halftime lead.

“All of us at the Cardinals are incredibly saddened by the news of Dennis Green’s passing,” Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said in a statement. “Coach Green will right be remembered as a true innovator, leader and pioneer among football coaches. We express our deepest sympathy to his family and many friends.”

Green also coached Northwestern (1981-85) and Stanford (1989-91) before breaking through at the pro level.


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