The career of producer/director Garry Marshall was marked by many peaks, including such classic television sitcoms as The Odd Couple (1970-1975), Happy Days (1974-1984), and Mork and Mindy (1978-1982), and the phenomenally popular feature film Pretty Woman (1990). A Brooklyn native, Marshall (born Gary Marsciarelli) was the son of an industrial filmmaker and a dance instructor. His sister, Penny Marshall, is a comic actress and noted film director. Marshall majored in journalism at Northwestern University and subsequently served a stint in the army before becoming a reporter for the New York Daily News. He was also a jazz drummer in a band before becoming a television comedy scriptwriter for such artists as Joey Bishop and Phil Foster and the writer for Jack Parr on The Tonight Show.
Marshall moved to Los Angeles in 1961, but he didn't make it big until he teamed up with writer Jerry Belson. Together, they penned numerous episodes for several sitcoms, notably The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Lucy Show. In 1970, Marshall produced The Odd Couple, which starred Jack Klugman and Tony Randall and was based on a popular Neil Simon play and movie. He reached his apex as a television producer during the '70s, with such hits as Laverne and Shirley (1976-1983), (a Happy Days spin-off starring sister Penny), and Mork and Mindy. In addition to his producing and television directorial efforts, Marshall occasionally appeared as a supporting actor.
In features, Marshall co-produced and co-wrote (with Belson) his first film, How Sweet It Is!, in 1968. A year later, the two produced and penned The Grasshopper. Marshall made his directorial feature film debut in 1982 with Young Doctors in Love, a comic look at daytime serials. As a film director, Marshall's output received uneven critical reviews. Films such as the Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell vehicle Overboard and the Bette Midler/Barbara Hershey melodrama Beaches (1988) had good box-office business, but were considered of average quality. 1990's Pretty Woman was Marshall's first big movie hit. Following its tremendous success, he tried his hand at a serious drama with Frankie and Johnny (1991) starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer. Later, Marshall's films tended more toward sentimental and straight dramas such as The Twilight of the Golds (1997) and The Other Sister (1999). Marshall returned to comedy -- and to his teaming of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere -- in 1999 with Runaway Bride. Remaining an active director well into his 70s, Marshall helped to launch Anne Hathaway's career by taking the helm for both 2001's The Princess Diaries and its 2004 sequel, though his subsequent, holiday-themed ensemble comedies Valentine's Day (2010), New Year's Eve (2011) and his final film Mother's Day (2016) largely flatlined with critics and moviegoers - with New Year's Eve earning him his first-ever Razzie Award.
In addition to his work behind the camera, Marshall occasionally appeared as an actor in films and television shows alike. During the mid-'90s, many TV audiences came to recognize him for playing Candice Bergen's ratings-crazy boss, Stan Lansing, on Murphy Brown. Marshall died July 18, 2016, of complications of pneumonia.