Cindy Williams “Happy Days” and “Laverne & Shirley” star dead at 75
Cindy Williams, who played the cheerful but demure Shirley Feeney in the popular TV sitcom Happy Days and its spinoff Laverne & Shirley, has died at the age of 75, Variety teports
Williams’ children, Zak and Emily Hudson, according to the report, told the Associated Press through family spokesperson Liza Cranis that Williams died in Los Angeles on Jan. 25 after a brief illness. The news was also posted on Williams’ official website.
“The passing of our kind, hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed,” the statement said. “Knowing and loving her has been our joy and privilege. She was one of a kind, beautiful, generous and possessed a brilliant sense of humor and a glittering spirit that everyone loved.”
Williams scored her big break in 1975, when she and Penny Marshall were cast in ABC’s Happy Days as Shirley and her best friend Laverne DeFazio, who went on a double date with Richie (Ron Howard) and Fonzie (Henry Winkler). The guest appearance was so popular that it led to their own spinoff, Laverne & Shirley, which followed the friends’ lives as roommates and co-workers at Shotz Brewery. The show ran for eight seasons from 1976 to 1983, becoming the most-watched show on television by its third season and garnering six Golden Globes nominations and one Emmy nomination. Williams departed the show in its eighth and final season after she became pregnant with her first child.
Born in Van Nuys, California on August 22, 1947, Williams’ love for acting began at Birmingham High School. She attended Los Angeles City College as a theatre major. After scoring several commercial spots, Williams transitioned to television in the early 1970s with small roles on shows like Room 222, Barefoot in the Park, Nanny and the Professor and Love, American Style. But Williams truly broke out in George Lucas’ 1973 coming-of-age film American Graffiti as Laurie Henderson, which earned her a BAFTA nomination for best actress in a supporting role. Williams also scored a role in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation in 1974, starring alongside Gene Hackman, Harrison Ford and Robert Duvall.