Garry Marshall, who brought some of the most remembered and successful sitcoms of the 1970s to American television and directed some notable films such as Pretty Woman, died on Tuesday in Burbank, CA, of complications from pneumonia following a stroke, according to Variety. He was 81.
Marshall’s programs, which pretty much dominated ABC-TV for the entire decade of the 1970s, consisted of The Odd Couple and Happy Days and its spinoffs, Laverne and Shirley and Mork and Mindy. With each of them came a kind of innocuous hilarity that had healthy doses of mild slapstick, easily resolved narratives, and always an emphasis on a slight surreal aspect of fun. Unlike say the socially conscious programs of the time that were being churned out by the stable of TV pioneer Norman Lear (like All in the Family and Maude), Marshall’s sitcoms, although they were rather perfunctory and innocuous by way of social redemption or awareness, held almost equal footing in terms of ratings success. And indeed, like many of the characters on Lear’s programs (Archie Bunker, Maude, Fred Sanford), Garry Marshall also helped create and was instrumental in bringing characters that were and have remained almost as iconic, such as The Fonz, Mork from Ork, Laverne, and Shirley.
In tribute to actor Robin Williams, who died on Tuesday, The Hub Network will air the 1978 episode of Happy Days where his character Mork debuted.
“My Favorite Orkan,” where Williams first appeared as the alien Mork from Ork, will air on Hub two times in succession on Friday, August 15, 2014, first at 9pm ET (6pm PT) and then at 9:30pm ET (6:30pm PT).
Robin Williams, a comedic jack of all trades who dazzled audiences for over four decades, was found dead of what sources believe to be a suicide*. He was 63.
For Williams and the generations who loved his absolutely every move, he leaves behind a legacy where for many, he was the king of his crafts. Weaning his inspirations from people such as Jonathan Winters, Robin Williams pioneered a sort of manic improvisation of Mack Truck coming at you at 100 miles an hour style of comedy that could make anyone laugh, hard. Just witness people like Johnny Carson, (and many others of Carson’s ilk and stature) to the every man, just in stitches at the craziness and what seemed intrinsic zaniness that emanated like running tap water from Robin Williams.
Jonathan Winters, who made an art out of improvisational comedy and had a successful career for decades with it, died on Thursday of natural causes in his home in Montecito, CA. He was 87.
Winters was like a comedic chameleon, effortlessly able to suss up physical caricatures of all types and stripes almost at will; he could instantaneously become stereotypical figures at once, sometimes at a rapid-fire clip, but he may be best remembered as the character of Maude Frickert to first generations of audiences who discovered him, the at- first-glance innocuous-looking grandmother who then had a tongue that could cut through steel if pressed. Winters positively relished that role and played it with full comedic aplomb as his quick wit solidified the character and audiences howled across the country.