Garry Marshall, the award-winning television and film director, writer, producer, and actor, will be the principal speaker at Lafayette’s 177th Commencement Saturday, May 19, and will be awarded an honorary degree.
Best known for creating the popular television series Happy Days and The Odd Couple, Marshall also has directed more than 25 movies including The Flamingo Kid, Nothing in Common, Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, The Princess Diaries, Valentine’s Day, and, most recently, the romantic comedy New Year’s Eve, which premiered in December.
The National Association of Broadcasters announced in January that Marshall will be inducted into its Broadcasting Hall of Fame in April.
With a career that spans more than 50 years, Marshall began as a joke writer for comedians Joey Bishop and Phil Foster, then moved to Hollywood to write for television, first for the Jack Paar Show. As executive producer of sitcoms in the late 1970s, he helped ABC win the ratings race for the first time in the network’s history. By the end of the 1978-79 season, four of the five highest-rated shows of the year were Marshall’s, for which Publishers Weekly dubbed him “king of the sitcoms.” From 1970 to 1996, he produced 27 series or made-for-television movies. These included, besides those previously mentioned, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, The New Odd Couple, and Who’s Watching the Kids.
Born in New York City in 1934, Marshall made his acting debut as a child with a recurring role in the long-running George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, which aired on CBS from 1950-58. He also appeared in the Dick Van Dyke Show and Murphy Brown on TV and in such movies as Soapdish, and a guest-starring voice for The Simpsons. He also appeared in episodes of Happy Days, ER, Monk, and Brothers and Sisters.
His theater credits include Wrong Turn at Lungfish, which he wrote in collaboration with Lowell Ganz, The Roast with Jerry Belson, Shelves, and Happy Days: A New Musical with Paul Williams, which premiered in 2006 at The Falcon Theater in Burbank, Calif., which Marshall owns and operates with his daughter, Kathleen.
Marshall’s television series were nominated for five prime-time Emmys (one for Mork and Mindy, the others for The Odd Couple). He is the recipient of the Lucy Award, presented by Women in Film in recognition of excellence and innovation in creative works that have enhanced the perception of women through the medium of television (1996); and the Legend Award, presented by TV Land to entertainers whose body of work has stood the test of time and ranks among the most memorable and celebrated in TV and movie history (2008).
Among his many other honors are the Creative Achievement Award from the American Comedy Awards (1990), Motion Picture Showmanship Award from the Publicists of the International Cinematographers Guild (1992), the Valentine Davies Award from the Writers Guild of America (1995), the Lifetime Achievement Award in Television from the Producers Guild of America (1998), the Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award from the American Cinema Editors (2004), and the PRISM Award for Best Feature Film for Georgia Rule (2008).
He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1983.
Marshall’s autobiography, Wake Me When It’s Funny: How to Break into Show Business and Stay, was published in 1997. He holds a B.S. in journalism from Northwestern University, where the Barbara and Garry Marshall Studio wing of Louis Hall, which houses the film sound stage, is named in honor of Marshall and his wife, the former Barbara Wells.
Garry and Barbara Marshall have three children, Lori, Scott, and Kathleen, all of whom are actors who have appeared in several of Marshall’s films. His son, Scott, is also a director.