EXCLUSIVE: Penny Marshall Talks Cancer, Working With Whitney Houston
While legendary actress Penny Marshall, 68, has become widely known for directing such films as Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Big, Awakenings, A League of Their Own and The Preacher’s Wife, her most iconic role was in front of the camera, as the headstrong Laverne in the famed ’70s and ’80s sitcom, Laverne & Shirley, also starring Cindy Williams, 65, and created by Garry Marshall, her brother.
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Marshall, as her early career was influenced by rumors of a feud between her and costar Williams, who played Shirley. The rumors, Marshall explained when she sat down exclusively with Uinterview, didn’t tell the whole story. “Cindy was fine,” Marshall told us. “She had a manager that was annoying, that my brother actually started in the business. She would feed in to Cindy’s insecurities. Then, she was fine. It’s like any family together for eight years, you’re going to have disagreements,” Marshall said.
But Marshall’s relationship with Williams herself is still going strong, despite her old rivalry with Williams’ husband, musician Bill Hudson (ex-husband of Goldie Hawn, with whom he had children Kate Hudson and Oliver Hudson). “I spoke to her last night, and we’re fine,” Marshall revealed about Williams.
Marshall’s more recent years have been marked by her struggle with cancer — a battle she appears to have won. “I’m clean, I’m fine, I’m healthy,” she told us, contradicting media reports that she was in dire straits. “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 also talked about her work with someone who wasn’t so fortunate, Whitney Houston, whom she directed in 1996’s The Preacher’s Wife, also starring Denzel Washington, Gregory Hines and Lionel Richie. Marshall didn’t detect any unprofessional behavior or signs of substance abuse with Houston at the time. “She was fine, she was as funny as can be — she had a great sense of humor …. 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.”
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