Funeral services were pending Monday for actress Cindy Williams, forever remembered for her role as the upbeat Shirley opposite Penny Marshall’s Laverne in the classic ABC sitcom “Laverne & Shirley.”
According to a family statement, Williams died Wednesday in Los Angeles at age 75, following a brief illness.
“The passing of our kind, hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed,” according to the statement from Williams’ children, Zak and Emily Hudson.
“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.”
Born in Van Nuys, Williams began her career with commercial gigs, but made small appearances on various sitcoms before landing roles in films including Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation” and George Lucas’ “American Graffiti,” in which she played the girlfriend of actor Ron Howard’s character.
A friend and co-worker of Penny Marshall at Coppola’s production company, Williams and Marshall were tabbed by Marshall’s brother — Garry Marshall — to make a guest appearance on “Happy Days,” reuniting Williams with Howard.
Their guest roles portraying Shirley Feeney and Laverne DeFazio were so successful that Garry Marshall developed a spinoff titled “Laverne & Shirley,” which ran from 1976 to 1983. The pair portrayed roommates who worked at a Milwaukee brewery on the bottling line in the show that many remember for its opening sequence in which the duo skip along a street singing, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated.”
Williams later appeared on Broadway in “The Drowsy Chaperone” and was in national touring companies of “Grease” and “Deathtrap.”
Later in life, she developed and performed in the one-woman nostalgia show “Me, Myself & Shirley.”