Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall thought stardom was strange at first
Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall were the stars of the 1976 series Laverne & Shirley. The duo went together like peanut butter and jelly or milk and Pepsi — whichever you prefer.
However, being the stars of a number one-rated TV series can be tough work, especially for Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall, who had never dreamed of the type of success they achieved.
"It's everything everybody ever imagined it would be [success]," Williams said in a 1978 interview with The Missoulian. "It's like culture shock. One minute you live from hand-to-mouth and the next you have this incredible salary and you go through a period of nouveau riche."
Laverne & Shirley was a Happy Days spin-off that premiered two years after Happy Days premiered in 1974. The series quickly became a hit and showcased characters introduced in the parent series.
"It is confusing and exciting," Marshall said. "Cindy and I are both actresses, and for us it used to be 'Give me this part, please. I know I can do it.' Now we have to say no to people we were begging for jobs from. I feel guilty. On the other hand, you don't have time to sit around and complain about the business. You're in it."
Despite their success, Williams and Marshall were up against a lot of criticism from both casual viewers and critics across the country. Many critics would put down the show, but Williams and Marshall protected the reputation.
"Now when critics say things are good, I say they don't know what they're talking about," Marshall said. "When they say things are bad, I say they don't know what they are talking about."
The series was set in the '50s, something both Marshall and Williams didn't know much about. Marshall was in grade school and junior high during the '50s and Williams was a child of the '60s.
Though she was too young to have lived through the decade, Williams had been through the period once before — as the role of Ron Howard's girlfriend in American Graffiti (1973).
Both Williams and Marshall had never been used to that kind of attention and for them it was something totally new.
"You go to the supermarket and see yourself on the cover of the National Enquirer, and that story is that you were an ugly duckling," Williams said. "You're misquoted or quoted out of context or there's an ugly picture. Your first reaction is anger, hostility and then you just say 'Ohhh, so what.' It's a growing process."
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