Cindy Williams, who played the perky but straitlaced Shirley Feeney on TV’s Happy Days and its spinoff, Laverne & Shirley, has died. She was 75.
In a statement provided to ABC News, her children Emily and Zak said via a spokesperson, “The passing of our kind, hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed. Knowing and loving her has been our joy and privilege.”
The statement continued, “She was one of a kind, beautiful, generous and possessed a brilliant sense of humor and a glittering spirit that everyone loved…May that laughter continue in everyone, because she would want that. Thank you for loving our Mom, she loved you too.”
While Williams also starred in classic films like George Lucas‘ American Graffiti and Francis Ford Coppola‘s The Conversation, she was best known for her role as Shirley opposite Penny Marshall‘s Laverne. The two characters were introduced on an episode of Happy Days, and were then spun off into their own series, which ran on ABC from 1976 to 1983.
The show, which began with the women working as bottle cappers in a Milwaukee brewery in the 1950s and ended with the gang living in Burbank, CA in 1967, was the most-watched TV series in America during its third season. It was nominated for several Golden Globes and an Emmy, and also spun off a short-lived Saturday morning cartoon.
After Laverne & Shirley, Williams appeared in two other sitcoms — Normal Life and Getting By –– and guest-starred on numerous series, from Law & Order: SVU to 8 Simple Rules. She also appeared on Broadway and did national tours of shows like Grease and Deathtrap.
Williams and Marshall reunited onscreen in a 2013 episode of Ariana Grande‘s Nickelodeon sitcom Sam & Cat. In 2015, Williams published her memoir Shirley, I Jest!
Williams’ death leaves Michael McKean, who played the girls’ neighbor Lenny, as the sole remaining main cast member of the beloved sitcom. Marshall died in 2018, while David Lander, who played Lenny’s best friend and roommate Squiggy, died in 2020. Eddie Mekka, who played Shirley’s boyfriend Carmine Ragusa, died in 2021.
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