Obituaries

Television Icon And ‘Laverne & Shirley’ Star Cindy Williams Dies At 75

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  • Actress Cindy Williams died on January 25 at the age of 75.
  • Her passing follows a brief illness, according to reports from her family.
  • Williams was known for playing Shirley Feeney in ‘Happy Days’ and ‘Laverne & Shirley.’

 

On January 25, 2023, Cindy Williams died. News of her passing comes from a statement shared on Monday; Williams died in Los Angeles following a brief illness. The actress was 75 years old when she passed away.

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Williams was an actress and producer known for playing Shirley Feeney in Laverne & Shirley, a role she originated in Happy Days. She was also famous for her roles in American Graffiti (1973) and The Conversation (1974). She had been active since ’70 until her death.

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Television icon Cindy Williams has died

HAPPY DAYS, from left: Ron Howard, Cindy Williams, Penny Marshall, Henry Winkler, 1974-84 / Everett Collection

Williams died on Wednesday after a brief illness, as confirmed by her children with Bill Hudson, Zak and Emily Hudson, through family spokesperson Liza Cranis. “The passing of our kind, hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed,” reads the statement. “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.”

RELATED: All The Stars We Lost In 2022: In Memoriam

Indeed, that spirit was fueled by the enthusiasm Williams energetically poured into her job: comedy. During a TV Academy Foundation interview, Williams was asked what she considered her greatest accomplishment to be. She answered, “It’s being able to deliver a line and hear 450 people laugh out loud. I can remember just being so happy doing that.”

Cindy and Shirley

LAVERNE & SHIRLEY (aka LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY), 1976-83 / Everett Collection

Cynthia Jane Williams was born on August 22, 1947, right in Los Angeles, California. Though her family briefly to Dallas, Texas, she grew up and studied acting in the Golden State, majoring in theater. She got her foot in the door with national commercials before landing TV and film roles, including Room 222, Nanny and the Professor, Travels with My Aunt, and American Grafitti. Her already-impressive filmography almost included Star Wars before the role of Princess Leia went to Carrie Fisher.

LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY, 1976-83 / Everett Collection

She first met Penny Marshall on a double date before both were hired as comedy writers by Penny’s brother, Garry Marshall. Then the two were asked if they would like to appear in the new – and sensational – Happy Days. The success of their characters, Laverne and Shirley, spawned a spinoff series bearing the characters’ names, which in turn inspired other iterations, including a Hanna-Barbera animated series. Unfortunately, many of her former colleagues died before Williams but she returned to the franchise multiple times over the years.

ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT PRESENTS: LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY TOGETHER AGAIN, from left: Penny Marshall, Cindy Williams, David L. Lander, Michael McKean, aired May 7, 2002. © Paramount Domestic Television /Courtesy Everett Collection

Williams was famously hands-on, refusing, alongside Penny, to use stunt doubles and the two became honorary members of the Stuntmen’s Association of Motion Pictures. Throughout her career before she died, Williams maintained a very specific policy when approaching comedy. She explained, “we made sure the joke was always on us, we never made fun of anyone else. We also wanted to keep the wolf nipping at our heels, like how are we going to pay the rent, how are we going to pay the electric bill. So we kept it grounded in that. We also made sure it was extremely funny to us.” If it wasn’t good enough for Williams, it was not good enough for those taking their time to tune in and watch her.

Cindy Williams has died, leaving family, friends, and fans to mourn a terrible loss / ImageCollect

RELATED: Cindy Williams Suddenly Quit ‘Laverne and Shirley’ 40 Years Ago

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