Laverne & Shirley Actress Cindy Williams Dead at 75

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Laverne & Shirley Actress Cindy Williams Dead at 75

The television industry is mourning the loss of a sitcom star.

Cindy Williams, best known as Shirley Feeney in classic Laverne & Shirleydied on Jan. 25 in Los Angeles after a short illness, her family confirmed in a statement. She was 75.

“The passing of our kind, hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed,” Williams’ children, Emily and Zak, said in the statement through their spokesperson to NBC News. “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.”

They continued, “We have always been, and will remain, SO proud of her for many things…her lifelong mission to rescue animals, her prolific artistry, her faith, and most of all, her ability to make the world laugh! May that laughter continue in everyone, because she would want that. Thank you for loving our Mom, she loved you too.”

Williams, who was born in Los Angeles, first began her journey as Shirley in ’70s sitcom, Happy Days, where she and the late Penny Marshall‘s Laverne DeFazio appeared briefly, but quickly became popular with viewers. The love was so strong that Happy Days creator Garry Marshall create spin-off Laverne & Shirley, which ran from 1976 to 1982.

Reflecting on the show’s success, Williams told Milwaukee Magazine last July why she thought the series resonated with people.

“Because we played everyday people. Blue collar workers,” she said. “We had things in common with everybody. We struggled to pay the rent, the electric bill, the gas bill. You know everybody can relate to that. We always wanted to maintain the sense that the wolf was always nipping at our characters’ heels and we were just one half step ahead.”

Williams left the show after she became pregnant and following alleged on-set tension with Marshall, according to The Mercury News. However, Marshall—who died in 2018 at age 75—clarified in 2016 to Fox News that they had reconciled.

Manny Hernandez/Getty Images

Asides from Laverne & Shirley, Williams had credits in movies American Graffiti and The Conversation, as well appearances on national tours for Grease and Deathtrap.

Her first television performances were in Room 222, Nanny and the Professor and Love, American Style.

She wrote a memoir in 2017 titled Shirley, I Jest, where she detailed her life in show business. She also embarked on one-woman show, Me, Myself and Shirley, in 2022, where she recalled some of the best memories of creating Laverne & Shirley.

“It’s like sitting around the campfire, only I have a really nice evening jacket on,” she told NBC10 Philadelphia last year. “I think the best part of the show, to be honest, is the audience. I get a big kick when the audience laughs at things because I remember doing them.”

Cindy is survived by her two children Emily and Zak, who she shared with ex husband Bill Hudson.

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