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Tributes paid to 'Big' director Penny Marshall following her death aged 75

There were messages from Tom Hanks, Mark Wahlberg, Bette Midler, Viola Davis and Danny DeVito.

Director Penny Marshall died on Monday at the age of 75
Director Penny Marshall died on Monday at the age of 75
Image: PA Images

TRIBUTES HAVE BEEN paid to Penny Marshall, one of the most successful female directors in history, following her death on Monday at the age of 75.

The filmmaker, who directed Big, A League of Their Own and a string of other hit movies, died peacefully at her home on Monday due to complications from diabetes, her publicist told AFP.

Marshall’s “heartbroken” family described her as a “tomboy who loved sports, doing puzzles of any kind, drinking milk and Pepsi together and being with her family.”

Big star Tom Hanks, who has gone on to appear in a further 60-plus movies, winning two Oscars, led an outpouring of affection and sadness from Hollywood.

“Goodbye, Penny. Man, did we laugh a lot! Wish we still could. Love you. Hanx,” he tweeted.

There were messages on social media from actors Mark Wahlberg, Bette Midler, Billy Crystal, Viola Davis, George Takei, James Woods, Reese Witherspoon, William Shatner and Danny DeVito, as well as fellow directors Ron Howard and Kevin Smith.

Many of the tributes focused on Marshall’s unpretentiousness and easy humor, while others highlighted her iconic status among women aspiring to make their way in an industry geared toward men.

Selma director Ava DuVernay thanked Marshall for the “the trails you blazed,” while actor Josh Gad (Frozen) observed: “At a time when men dominated, #pennymarshall broke barriers as a director, giving us hit after hit.”

‘Made us all laugh’

Born in New York, Marshall was the daughter of producer Tony Marshall and his tap dance teacher wife Marjorie, and a sister to legendary comedy director Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman), who died in 2016.

She made her name as Laverne DeFazio on the TV sitcom Laverne and Shirley from 1976 to 1983, earning three Golden Globe nominations, before making her directorial debut with Jumpin’ Jack Flash in 1986.

She is probably best known in the movie world for directing Hanks in his breakout role in Big in 1988, which became the first film made by a woman to gross more than $100 million at the domestic box office.

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She went on to direct Robert De Niro and Robin Williams in medical drama Awakenings, which was nominated for a best picture Oscar, before helming A League of Their Own in 1992, starring Hanks alongside Geena Davis and Madonna.

Fellow New Yorker and US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer remembered a woman who “made us all laugh … made us all cry”.

“She paved the way for so many women in television. And, she was in a league of her own,” he said, recalling one of Marshall’s best-loved movies.

© – AFP 2019

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