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Penny Marshall, the amazing actress, comedian and director, has died
DEAD AT 75   12/18/2018 12:17 PM PST      Penny Marshall, the amazing actress, comedian and director, has died ... TMZ has learned.

Marshall died Monday night at her Hollywood Hills home. We've learned the cause of death was complications from diabetes.

Penny's first recurring role was playing Myrna Turner on "The Odd Couple," which was directed by her brother. She also appeared on "Happy Days" with Cindy Williams, and they became famous from their spin-off sitcom, "Laverne & Shirley." It became a monster hit in 1976 and ran for 8 seasons. Her character's moniker -- the "L" for Laverne on her sweater -- became one of the most famous logos in television.  Penny's accomplishments were only beginning. She directed Tom Hanks in "Big" in 1988. She was the first woman in history to direct a film that grossed more than $100 million.   Penny also directed "A League of Their Own," and "Awakenings" starring Robin Williams.

Penny's family says, "Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall. Penny was a tomboy who loved sports, doing puzzles of any kind, drinking milk and Pepsi together and being with her family."

The family notes Penny gave Mark Wahlberg his first acting job in "Renaissance Man."

"As an actress, her work on 'Laverne & Shirley' broke ground featuring blue-collar women entertaining America in prime time."

"She was a comedic natural with a photographic memory and an instinct for slapstick," her family added. 

"We hope her life continues to inspire other to spend time with family, work hard and make of their dreams come true."   Penny was once married to Rob Reiner and once dated Art Garfunkel. She had an amazing lineage ... her brother was famed director Garry Marshall. She directed her daughter, Tracy Reiner, who played Betty in "A League of Their Own."

One of Penny's closest friends was Carrie Fisher. They had joint birthdays and Penny was godmother to Carrie's daughter, Billie Lourd.

Penny was a massive basketball fan and was a staple at Lakers and Clippers games for years.    Penny also famously directed the 1996 movie "The Preacher's Wife" starring Denzel Washington, and "Jumpin' Jack Flash" in 1986 starring Whoopi Goldberg.  

Her producer credits ain't too shabby either -- with movies like "Cinderella Man" and "Calendar Girl."

The family says a celebration of Penny's life will be held at a later date.   
Henry Winkler tells TMZ he worked with Penny even before "Happy Days," and knew from the start she was a very funny woman and an incredible talent. He says her comedic partnership with Cindy was akin to Lucille Ball, but more modern.

Many more celebrity tributes have been pouring in, with Albert Brooks posting on social media -- "R.I.P. Penny Marshall. So talented and funny. A big loss."

Katie Couric added, "I'm so sad to hear about the passing of Penny Marshall. #RestInPeace."

"The Simpsons" producer Al Jean said, "Penny Marshall our first guest star and a great talent. You will be missed!"

Busy Philipps said, "Oh Penny Marshall. Rest In Peace and thank you for everything."

'Law & Order' star, Vincent D'Onofrio shared a memory -- "I was invited by Penny Marshall to her house one afternoon to talk about a film she was doing. She was so kind to me. She was so smart and funny. I will never forget that afternoon. My heart goes out to her family and friends."

Melissa Joan Hart -- "Heartbroken to learn that #PennyMarshall has passed away!! The Marshall family holds a special place in my heart for being so kind and creative and encouraging to other artists. But she was a special role model for female comedians like myself. #RIP #ThankYou."

Originally published -- 10:41 AM PST

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