Cindy Williams, one of the protagonists of the series “Laverne & Shirley” died
The actress passed away at age 75 after a brief illness. Her best-known character was “Shirley” in the “Happy Days” spin-off that aired on ABC from 1976 to 1983
FILE – Cindy Williams arrives at the 10th anniversary of the TV Land Awards in New York on April 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)
Cindy Williams, who was one of the biggest stars recognized in America in the 1970s and 1980s for her role as Shirley opposite Penny Marshall's Laverne on the beloved comedy series “Laverne & Shirley” died, her family said Monday.
Williams died in Los Angeles at He turned 75 on Wednesday after a brief illness, his children, Zak and Emily Hudson, said in a statement issued through family spokeswoman Liza Cranis.
“The passing of our kind and hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us an insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed,” the statement read. “Knowing her and loving her has been our joy and privilege. She was unique, beautiful, generous, and possessed a brilliant sense of humor and a shining spirit that everyone loved.”
FILE – Actress Cindy Williams smiles as she receives her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on August 12, 2004. (AP Photo /Damián Dovarganes, File)
Williams was born as one of two sisters in the Van Nuys area of Los Angeles in 1947. Her family moved to Dallas shortly after she was born, but she returned to Los Angeles, where she began acting while attending high school. from Birmingham and majored in performing arts at LA City College.
The actress worked with some of Hollywood's most elite directors in a film career that preceded her full-time switch to television, appearing in George Cukor's“Travels With My Aunt” in 1972, b> “American Graffiti” by George Lucas from 1973 and “The Conversation” by Francis Ford Coppola from 1974.
But it was much more known for “Laverne & Shirley,” the “Happy Days” spin-off that aired on ABC from 1976 to 1983 and was one of the most popular shows on television in its prime.
FILE – Actresses Cindy Williams, left, and Penny Marshall, stars of the ABC-TV comedy series “Laverne and Shirley,” leave a footprint in cement after taping their show in Los Angeles, on November 14, 1979. (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon, File)
Williams played prudish Shirley Feeney to Marshall's more rakish Laverne DeFazio on the show about a pair of collared roommates blue who toiled on the assembly line of a Milwaukee brewery in the 1950s and 1960s.
“They were beloved characters,”, Williams told The Associated Press in 2002.
DeFazio was short-tempered and defensive; Feeney was naive and trusting. The actors drew inspiration from their own lives for inspiration in the plot.
FILE – Chip Carter, son of Democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, poses with Penny Marshall, left, and Cindy Williams, right, on the set of the comedy "Laverne and Shirley" at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles on Sept. 21, 1976. (AP Photo/David F. Smith, File)
“We would make a list at the beginning of every season of the talent we had,” he said. Marshall told the AP in 2002. “Cindy could touch her nose with her tongue and we used it on the show. She tap danced.”
Williams told The Associated Press in 2013 that she and Marshall had “very different personalities,” but the stories of the two clashing during the making of the show were “a bit of a stretch.”
The series was the network's rare hit about working-class characters, with its self-empowering opening song: “Give us any chance, we'll take it, read us any rule, we'll break it.”< /p>
FILE – Penny Marshal, left, and Cindy Williams of the comedy series "Laverne & Shirley" appear at the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on September 9, 1979. (AP Photo/George Brich, File)
That opening would become as popular as the show itself. Williams and Marshall's chant of “schlemiel, schlimazel” as they skipped together became a cultural phenomenon and an often-invoked piece of nostalgia.
Over the past three decades , Williams made guest appearances on dozens of television series, including “7th Heaven,” “8 Simple Rules,” and “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.” In 2013, she and Marshall appeared in a tribute episode of “Laverne & Shirley” from the Nickelodeon series “Sam and Cat”.
Last year, Williams appeared in a one-woman show filled with stories from her career, “Me, Myself and Shirley,” at a theater in Palm Springs, California, near her Desert Hot Springs home.
FILE – Actors Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall present the Legend award onstage at the TV Land Awards on June 8, 2008 in Santa Monica, California. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)
Williams was married to singer Bill Hudson of the music group Hudson Brothers from 1982 until 2000. Hudson fathered her two children. He was previously married to Goldie Hawn and is also the father of actress Kate Hudson.
(With information from AP)