Ron Howard Mourns Loss Of Co-Star Cindy Williams
Movieclips / YouTube
Cindy Williams, the actress who played Shirley Feeney on the ABC sitcom Laverne & Shirley, has died at the age of 75.
Williams’ children, Zak and Emily Hudson, released a statement Monday sharing that their mother had died in Los Angeles on Wednesday after a brief illness.
“The passing of our kind, hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed,” the statement said. “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.”
Williams played Shirley Feeny alongside Penny Marshall’s Laverne DeFazio, who both worked at a Milwaukee Brewery in the 1950s. After three seasons on the air, “Laverne & Shirley” became the most watched show on television. The show, a “Happy Days” spinoff, would earn six Golden Globe nominations and one Emmy nomination. The show ran for eight seasons in total, from 1976-1983.
She got her start on the big screen as a hippie in Travels With My Aunt in 1972. A year later she appeared as the girlfriend of future “Happy Days” star Ron Howard in American Graffiti.
She reunited with Howard in 1975 when she and Penny guest starred on Happy Days, which then landed them the spin-off Laverne & Shirley!
Howard would eventually guest star on two episodes of Laverne & Shirley himself.
Howard spoke to PEOPLE about the legendary actress, saying, “I’m shocked because I hadn’t seen her for years and years. We connected at an event in Palm Springs [California] last year, and I was just so taken by how her intelligence, energy, and sense of humor…was still in high gear. And so it’s really a shock to imagine that spark is gone.”
He spoke about how she made him feel comfortable on the American Graffiti set when he was just 18 years old.
“In American Graffiti, she was 24 and I was 18, and I had my first kissing scenes with her, but they weren’t very romantic because she knew that she had this nervous kid on her hands and she had to take charge of the situation,” he said. “And so she was like, ‘Here’s how we got to kiss for the camera. Here’s what we have to do.’ She’s always had almost a big sister energy around me.”
Howard said that Williams loved to act and make people laugh, that she “really was dedicated creatively.”
He continued, “I think she’d like to be remembered for the variety of roles that she played. Even though she was the most famous for Shirley…she also thought of herself as a character actress. I think she’d want people to think of her in that way.”
Howard ended his statement on a grateful note.