Actress Cindy Williams, most known for her role on the hit ABC sitcom Laverne & Shirley, died on Monday at the age of 75.
Williams died in Los Angeles after battling a brief illness, her children, Zak and Emily Hudson, said in a statement.
“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.”
‘Laverne & Shirley’ actor Cindy Williams dies at 75 https://t.co/AaU9Yozfg6
— WNYT NewsChannel 13 (@WNYT) January 31, 2023
Aside from her starring turn in Laverne & Shirley, Cindy Williams lent her acting talent to not just one but two iconic movies of the early-1970s: George Lucas’ American Graffiti, in which she played Ron Howard’s high school sweetheart, and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation, in which she played a femme fatale of sorts. The Hollywood Reporter (THR) detailed how she eventually went on to land her role in the celebrated sitcom, which Wayne’s World famously lampooned.
In 1975, Williams and Penny Marshall were writing partners working for $30 a week on a bicentennial spoof for Coppola’s Zoetrope company when Garry Marshall hired them for an episode of ABC’s Happy Days.
Portraying “fast girls” — Penny thought that meant hookers — recruited by Fonzie (Henry Winkler) for a double date with Richie Cunningham (Howard), the pair displayed an immediate onscreen chemistry.
Garry Marshall then pitched a comedy that starred the duo to ABC entertainment chief Fred Silverman. “There are no shows about blue-collar girls on the air,” he recalled in 2000. “He said, ‘It’s on! What’s its name?’ ‘I said, Laverne & Shirley.’ ‘Good, I love it!’”
After debuting number 1 in the ratings, Laverne & Shirley went on for eight seasons before wrapping in 1983 with Williams present. With the close of the seventh season, Williams became pregnant with her first child while married to actor-musician Bill Hudson.
“I thought I was going to come back and they’d hide [her baby bump] behind benches, couches, pillows, and that wasn’t it,” she said in 2015 on the Today show.
“When it came time for me to sign my contract for that season, they had me working on my due date to have my baby. I said, ‘You know, I can’t sign this.’ And it went back and forth and back and forth, and it just never got worked out. Right after that, [shows] would build nurseries on sets,” she added.
See her full obituary in The Hollywood Reporter (THR).