July 20, 2016

"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 on Tuesday in Burbank, Calif. He was 81." — begins the NYT obit.

I wasn't going to blog this death. I don't blog every celebrity death, and I didn't think I cared much about the Marshall's work, but I went to IMDB and saw the list of shows he worked on, not just "Happy Days," "Laverne and Shirley," and "Mork and Mindy" — which happened in the 70s, when I didn't care about TV — but a whole slew of the 60s television that I lived with intimately: "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (18 episodes), "The Lucy Show" (10 episodes), "The Joey Bishop Show" (10 episodes), "Gomer Pyle: USMC" (2 episodes), "The Bill Dana Show" (2 episodes), "Make Room for Daddy" (5 episodes). He even wrote an episode of "Hank." Do you know what "Hank" was? I sure do! I blogged about it here


Jim said...

SJWs would never let them put Bill Dana on the air today.

mikee said...

What is considered funny, what makes people laugh, often changes over the years. This man's career consisted of following those changes, and sometimes leading those changes, over decades. Quite a run of successes.

What I wonder is how I will ever know about the funniest people around today, when they are overwhelmed, buried, hidden by so much noisy crud masquerading as comedy.

Nonapod said...

This guy had an impressive resume, but technically I would think that the people behind some of the CG animated comedies (Dreamworks, Disney, Pixar) of the past couple decades would have generated the most laughs worldwide. Stuff like Shrek, Kungfu Panda, Toy Story, Zootopia and the like have been insanely successful worldwide in terms of box office as well as home consumption.

MisterBuddwing said...

Been trying to find a video clip of Garry Marshall doing one of his relatively rare acting turns. In particular, I was searching for his very funny take as a network TV chief in the 1991 comedy "Soapdish."

There's a crummy looking video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXD_46S0hg4 - go to the 1:22:04 mark.

coupe said...

He was a smart man to figure out that the boob tube was going to be a huge cash register.

All he had to do was find a way to pay for it.

Selling soap to housewives was the secret sauce. Today it's selling underwear to women who can crap and pee in them. Drugs to convince your doctor you absolutely need.

"Caution, these drugs may increase thoughts of suicide." I love that warning.

Rick said...

I remember him as an actor: Walter Harvey from A League of Their Own which his sister Penny directed. I watched it with the kids last night. His best line which responds to the criticism when the men return home from WWII America is going to send the women riveters (and by extension baseball players) back to the kitchen.

"Should we send the men returning from war back to the kitchen"?

Skimming his acting credits his other appearances seem to be mostly bit parts other than Murphy Brown. RIP.

Darrell said...


Caution: May increase risk of suicide.

bridgecross said...

I grew up with all those shows, but don't recall laughing all that much. We were young and bored with just 5 channels and nothing else to do. The studio audience on Laverne & Shirley laughed a lot, but now often did YOU laugh out loud in your living room? Comedy is much more clever now, and I thing we're laughing much more than then.

Jay Vogt said...

Savvy guy. RIP.

Like Merv Griffin before him, he did figure out a particularly efficient way to extract money from the television ecosphere (as we would call it today).

He was an underappreciated, but cleverly used character actor. Particularly funny working as a straight man to some of the best. His role as the casino manager in Albert Brook's "Lost in America" was a wry comedy classic performance: "You're a nice guy, you make me laugh. But our policy is: we can't give your money back."

rhhardin said...

Pretty Woman (1990)

EMD said...

Marshall to me is similar to John Hughes in that he was in essence, an ordinary genius. A guy who somehow uniquely tapped into human insight and emotion and told wonderful stories about them. Out of his 1970s oeuvre, Laverne and Shirley is probably the best. A love letter to his Milwaukee upbringing, but with a more reliably funny (and physical) cast than Happy Days.

Graham Powell said...

I believe he also hosted quite a few charity softball games featuring the stars of his shows. I'm thinking particularly of Happy Days but there may have been others.

mgarbowski said...

Thank you MisterBuddwing. When I heard the news my mind flashed immediately to "Stable!?!? I'm stable. Who wants to watch me on television!?!?!?" So-so line but delivered with such verve.
Also liked him in League of Their Own. Rick nailed the moment. Basically the same character and delivery. As an actor he was limited, but memorable for those moments.

victoria said...

Not only was he hilarious in "A League of their own" but watch him in "Never Been Kissed" as the owner of the Chicago newspaper. Funny, funny. He had a loyal stable of performers who were in every movie he did, like Hector Elizondo. They loved him, he had a great respect for talent and could find new talent everywhere... Matt Dillon, Henry Winkler, Julia Roberts would have never had the careers they had without him in their corner. A mensch. A lovely man.

victoria said...

BTW, I loved "Hank".

CatherineM said...

He killed Chuck Cunningham from Happy Days. No one has seen him since.

When his shows were big, people like the Fonz were as big as Bieber. No one can get the ratings like Happy Days with all of the channels we have now.

I always liked his movie, the Flamingo Kid. The film "Introduced" Janet Jones, now Mrs. Wayne Gretsky and starred Matt Dillon, Richard Crenna and Jessica Walter.


Brando said...

"I always liked his movie, the Flamingo Kid. The film "Introduced" Janet Jones, now Mrs. Wayne Gretsky and starred Matt Dillon, Richard Crenna and Jessica Walter."

It must have been thirty years since I saw that movie--I loved it back then.

Happy Days started out good, when it focused on Richie and his pals, and Fonz was a very funny side character they worshipped. When it became the Fonz show, and audiences cheered every time he entered, it started to lose some of that nostalgic vibe. And in the later seasons they really weren't trying much to make it look '50s--remember Suzi Quatro's run as a leather clad glam rocker? And the feathered hair? I don't expect Mad Men level authenticity, but hey, at least keep trying to make it look like the period!

RIP Garry.

Kate said...

"Peppy and cheap." That's my favorite line of his from "Soapdish", and one of the most versatile phrases you can find. I use it everywhere.

His audio commentaries as a director are a master class. As he says, always have a cat that you can cut away to in case a scene isn't editing properly. Watch his movies, see the cat!

What a loss.

Bay Area Guy said...

@ Brando

"I always liked his movie, the Flamingo Kid. The film "Introduced" Janet Jones, now Mrs. Wayne Gretsky and starred Matt Dillon, Richard Crenna and Jessica Walter."

It must have been thirty years since I saw that movie--I loved it back then.

Loved that movie! In high school, took JP to see it, and she became my first girlfriend. Nice times -- and the movie made me dream of working at a summer resort like Matt Dillon did.

rehajm said...

I shall jump the shark in his honor.