Penny Marshall was best known for playing Laverne DeFazio on the ABC sitcom Laverne & Shirley, but she also made headlines for her high-profile marriage to Rob Reiner. Marshall, who passed away on December 17 at age 75, was married to Reiner for 10 years — thick in the middle of their successful 1970s sitcom runs — according to Variety.
Before either one of them became famous, Penny Marshall married Rob Reiner in 1971, when he was 23 and she was 27. They divorced in 1981.
The future superstars grew up across the street from one another in the Bronx, though they’d never met.
“It was a very wide street,” Penny told CNN.
Fast forward to Hollywood, where Rob Reiner played Archie Bunker’s son-in-law, Mike “Meathead” Stivic, on All in the Family. Penny Marshall’s character of Laverne, meanwhile, was introduced on a 1976 episode of ABC’s Happy Days— as Fonzie’s (Henry Winkler) date — just before the Laverne & Shirley spinoff debuted with co-star Cindy Williams. In a funny twist, Penny Marshall was actually considered for the role of Gloria Bunker Stivic on the CBS comedy, before Sally Struthers was cast on the show.
Rob Reiner was Penny Marshall’s second husband, but he adopted her daughter, Tracy, from her marriage to Michael Henry. He also gave Tracy the Reiner last name. In 2012, Marshall joked to Newsweek, “I married Rob Reiner, so Tracy came to stay with us — she said we had more TV channels.”
After Penny Marshall’s death was announced, Ron Reiner took to Twitter to post that he was very sad to hear about her passing. Reiner also wrote that his ex-wife “was born with a funnybone and the instinct of how to use it.”
“I was very lucky to have lived with her and her funnybone. I will miss her,” Reiner wrote.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Penny Marshall revealed that she stayed on good terms with Rob Reiner after their 1981 divorce. She also explained that she stayed in the marriage long enough to know when it was time to call it quits.
“It’s still sad that Rob and I didn’t work it out, but he’s happily married with three kids — my grandson went to school with his kids, two of his boys,” Marshall said. “I stay in things a long time to make sure it’s over. It’s not, ‘Okay, we had a fight.’ No, I wait ’til way past ‘It’s over’ to make sure it’s just not a mood or something going on. It wasn’t like we were fighting, it’s just, things are going a different way, you know? I don’t like confrontation much; I’m not a big arguer.”