Cindy Williams got a manager, an agent and her first television role at the same time
Cindy Williams, the talented actress who played Shirley Feeney on the beloved sitcom Laverne & Shirley, worked hard before getting her legendary role. She attended Los Angeles City College, where she majored in theatre. After graduating, she started her professional career by landing national commercials for companies like the eyewear brand Foster Grant.
Once the actress got her first television role in Room 222 in 1969, many roles followed quickly after. In fact, between 1969-1975 (her debut and before the role on Laverne & Shirley), Williams had roles in 23 films and shows.
In an interview with The News Tribune in 1976, Williams revealed how she got her first television role as Rhoda Zagor/ Rita Zagor in Room 222. "[Gary Marshall] got me my first manager and agent," she said.
Williams was referring to Penny Marshall's brother. According to the article, Williams had no intentions of doing a series, and both actresses were paired together initially for a one-shot guest appearance on Happy Days in the fall of 1975. They collaborated as writers for a bicentennial movie spoof that never got off the ground.
Gary Marshall was a producer and creator with whom Williams had a long-time association and his projects. She remembered applying for her first job with a government-sponsored theatre project for "poverty-stricken aspiring actors with ethnic backgrounds."
"I figured I'm half Italian, and I'm poor," she added. This gave her the green light to apply, but she was quickly turned down. There was something good that came out of that rejection, though. Bud Freeman, a friend of Marshall's in charge of the theatre project, sent her to meet with him.
Williams walked out of the meeting with a manager, an agent and her first television role in Room 222. She appeared in three episodes and, in 1970, starred as Marissa in the film Gas-s-s-s. When Laverne & Shirley debuted in 1976, the actress became even more in demand, appearing on shows and films during the series and after.
Weekdays 2p ET | 11a PT