Garry Marshall, Who Made Happy Days and Pretty Woman, Dies at 81

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Garry Marshall, the American director who made his name on both seminal American sitcoms and cinematic stories of redemption like Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries, died Tuesday at the age of 81, Variety reports.

Marshall grew up in New York City and got his start in television, writing for Jack Paar’s Tonight Show before taking a crucial role in the development of two major sitcoms of the 1970s: The Odd Couple, which he developed in 1970, and Happy Days, whose pilot he wrote in 1970. (He also helped create the two Happy Days spinoffs, Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy.)

He shifted his focus to Hollywood in the 1980s, and achieved his first big hit in 1990, when Pretty Woman, the story of a prostitute who embarks on a love affair with a wealthy lawyer (played by Richard Gere), exploded at the box office. This theme — an “ugly duckling” narrative of sorts — resurfaced in Marshall’s 2001 film The Princess Diaries, wherein a bookish teenager (played by Anne Hathaway in her film debut) learns that she is the heir to the throne of a fictitious overseas state.

Variety reports that Marshall is survived by his wife of more than fifty years, Barbara, three children and many grandchildren.


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