Cindy Williams, Star of ‘laverne & Shirley,’ Passes Away at Age 75

Cindy Williams has died, according to a statement from her family that was given to CNN by a representative. She was best known for playing Shirley Feeney on the popular sitcom “Laverne & Shirley.” She turned 75.

Williams died after a short illness, according to a statement from her children Zak and Emily Hudson. Williams’ personal assistant and family spokesperson, Liz Cranis, gave the statement to CNN.

“The death of our kind and funny mother, Cindy Williams, has left us with an indescribable sadness that can’t be put into words,” their statement said. “It has been a joy and a privilege for us to know and love her. She was one of a kind, beautiful, and kind. She also had a great sense of humor and a sparkling personality that everyone loved.”

Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams in a 1979 episode of Laverne & Shirley.
Source: Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams in a 1979 episode of Laverne & Shirley.

Williams had roles in movies and TV shows for more than 60 years, but it was her role on the “Happy Days” spin-off “Laverne & Shirley” that made her a household name and made her loved by millions.

She played one half of a dynamic friend duo with the late Penny Marshall. Their adventures kept the show going for eight seasons, from 1976 to 1983.

Work and high praise

Williams was born in Van Nuys, California. In high school, she was interested in acting, which led her to study theatre at Los Angeles City College, her family says in a biography. In 1969, Williams had a three-episode arc on the TV show “Room 222,” and in the early 1970s, he made guest appearances on other shows like “Nanny and the Professor” and “Love, American Style.”

Williams went on to become a TV and movie actor who was in dozens of movies and TV shows. But her career started to take shape after she played Shirley Feeney on “Happy Days” for the first time in 1975.

“Laverne & Shirley” was a big hit with viewers and was nominated for six Golden Globes, including two for best comedy series and one for Williams as best actress in a comedy.

Williams has also been in a number of great movies. Most notably, she was in George Lucas‘s 1973 movie “American Graffiti,” which got her a nomination for best supporting actress at the British Academy Film Awards. At the 1974 Academy Awards, the movie was up for five awards, including best picture. It was about a group of friends who spend one wild night together before going to college. Williams also had parts in the acclaimed movies “Travels with My Aunt” by George Cukor in 1972 and “The Conversation” by Francis Ford Coppola in 1974.

Ron Howard and Cindy Williams in a promotional portrait for 1973's 'American Graffiti.'
Source: Ron Howard and Cindy Williams in a promotional portrait for 1973’s ‘American Graffiti.’

Williams was also a good stage actress with many credits to her name. Last year, she toured the country with her one-woman show, “Me, Myself, and Shirley.” In it, she told stories from her whole career. She was going on at least one set of dates later this year.

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Tributes from the heart

When word got out that Williams had died, her friends and fans took to social media to remember the actress, whose work made people laugh.

Ron Howard, the star of “Happy Days” and a film director, tweeted that Williams’ “unpretentious intelligence, talent, wit, and humanity” affected every character she created and every person she worked with. He also said that the two of them had worked on six projects together. He also said, “Lucky me.”

Henry Winkler, who played Fonzie on “Happy Days,” said on Twitter that Williams was “a good and talented person.”

Yvette Nicole Brown tweeted, “Oh, how I loved Cindy Williams!” Williams was a guest star on an episode of CBS’s “The Odd Couple” in 2016. “She was just as pretty as I thought she would be.”

Actor Jason Alexander wrote on Twitter, “I didn’t know Cindy Williams, but I loved her work, especially watching her on Laverne and Shirley when she was crazy, happy, and funny.” I hope she had a good life and am sorry for those who knew and cared about her.”

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In their statement, Williams’ children said that they were proud of their mother for many reasons, including “her lifelong mission to save animals, her prolific art, and her faith,” but “most of all, her ability to make the world laugh.”

“May everyone continue to laugh, because that’s what she would want,” the statement said. “Thank you for loving our mother. She loved you, too.

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