Penny Marshall Video Interview On 'My Mother Was Nuts'
Penny Marshall, 68, received her first big break when her brother, Garry, cast her as Laverne DeFazio in an episode of Happy Days in 1975. The following season, she reprised the role in her own series, Laverne & Shirley, co-starring Cindy Williams, which instantly shot to the top of the ratings and ran for eight seasons. After the series wrapped, Marshall went behind the camera, directing such hits as Big, A League of Their Own, Awakenings and The Preacher’s Wife.
Now, Marshall is setting the record straight about her decades in Hollywood in a remarkably candid memoir, My Mother Was Nuts, in which she speaks about being diagnosed with cancer in 2009. “It was that rags keep writing, ‘Pray for her, she’s dying.’ Nothing’s wrong with my liver. I wanted to make that clear. I’m fine,” Marshall told Uinterview exclusively. She also wants to clarify that she owes her hilarious sense of humor to her mother. “My mother had a great sense of humor. My father — dull,” she tells Uinterview. “But my mother, great sense of humor. So we all got it from my mother. And you had to have a sense of humor or you’d kill yourself, because the sarcasm would just fly at you.”
- Q: Did your recent battle with cancer influence you to write this book? - Uinterview
- A: In a sense. Not that I feel I’m going to die, because I’m clean, I’m fine, I’m healthy. It was that rags keep writing ‘Pray for her, 'She’s dying.’ Nothing’s wrong with my liver. I wanted to make that clear. I’m fine. But my brother is doing a second book and I figured, ‘I’ll try it. This is a new thing. I’m adventurous, some.’ I figured, ‘Why not give this a shot?’
- Q: Did your parents influence your sense of humor? - Uinterview
- A: Absolutely, my mother was nuts. It’s possible that yours was, and many people’s were. But my mother had a great sense of humor. My father — dull. But my mother, great sense of humor. So we all got it from my mother. And you had to have a sense of humor or you’d kill yourself, because the sarcasm would just fly at you.
- Q: On Laverne & Shirley, was there competition between you and Cindy Williams? - Uinterview
- A: Cindy was fine. She had a manager that was annoying, that my brother actually started in the business. She would feed into Cindy’s insecurities. Then, she was fine. It’s like any family together for eight years, you’re going to have disagreements with Michael [McKean] or David [Lander] or whomever. But it ended anti-climatically, because I was very happy, she was having a baby and all that. I was happy. I spoke to her last night. I just didn’t like her husband [musician Bill Hudson] much, because he got in the way. She thought he was being protective, ok. But I spoke to her last night — they’re not together anymore. I spoke to her last night and we’re fine.
- Q: Did you struggle to transition from acting to directing? - Uinterview
- A: The hardest thing was getting up in the morning, which I’m still not very good at, by the way. And also, the waiting for the lighting. You could kill yourself. And then you do one take and they say, ‘You ready to move?’ 'No!' You get used to it. But, getting lines out of actors is not fun to me. Behavior. Laverne and Shirley, we did a lot of behavior, whether it was physical comedy or whatever, go through a purse, do something. Sitting here, talking like this is not a very exciting thing for me to do … or watch.
- Q: When you directed The Preacher’s Wife, did Whitney Houston exhibit signs of trouble on the set? - Uinterview
- A: She was fine, she was as funny as can be — she had a great sense of humor. She didn’t not know her lines. She knew them, never went up. And you’re watching, so you don’t see. Whatever she did on her own time, you know, she did on her own time. But don’t do it on my time. That’s my rule.
- Q: With all that you’ve accomplished, what projects are you working on next? - Uinterview
- A: I want to go home and go to bed and not get up so early, number one. Wait for basketball season to start. I have to come back to New York around the 20s of October for something totally different — BIANYS. The Brain Injury Association of New York State, which Lorraine Bracco and I do every year. I’m reading some things, and I'll see if there's anything. I wouldn’t mind being in something, multi-camera preferably. I don’t find anyone funny at six or seven in the morning. Call me crazy.
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