That Time Penny Marshall Thwarted Would-Be Ninja Robbers In Her Own Home

The late actor and director once stopped a pair of robbers in her home during the mid-1980s.

Actor and director Penny Marshall.
Gary Gershoff / Getty Images

The late actor and director once stopped a pair of robbers in her home during the mid-1980s.

After news broke of Penny Marshall’s death on Tuesday, many shared their favorite memories of her life. One memory she reminisced about a few years ago, however, was startling and scary for the late actor and director.

Marshall, who had a co-starring role in Laverne & Shirley and directed Hollywood hits like A League of Their Own, recalled during an interview in 2012 how she handled a situation involving a pair of robbers — dressed as ninjas — who had broken into her home in the middle of the night.

The two teenage robbers were armed with a ninja sword, the New York Times reported in March of 1984, when the incident occurred. The two held the actor hostage for a couple of hours while they attempted to steal Marshall’s possessions.

Their actions were very violent, archived reporting from UPI detailed. They pointed the sword at her and threatened her life at one point, with one of the two teens saying to her, “Don’t move or I’ll kill you.”

The robbers snagged around $400 worth of video equipment, and cut Marshall’s telephone line while they held her hostage. They also smashed one of her phones, telling her at the time it was a better option than causing her harm.

Despite all that she went through in the evening, Marshall was able to use a silent alarm to alert police to the danger in her home. The two men were arrested just outside of her home shortly after.

Marshall later described in an interview with USA Today how she confronted her robbers in a rather nonchalant kind of manner.

“What are you going to do?” Marshall said rhetorically when asked how she was able to manage under those circumstances. “I was scared, but it worked. I just talked to them and asked what they were doing in my living room.”

It was announced on Tuesday afternoon that Marshall had passed away at the age of 75. The immediate explanation for her death was that it was related to complications due to her battle with diabetes.

Marshall became a household name in the 1970s, starring in Laverne & Shirley, a spinoff of Happy Days. It was a show created by her older brother, Gary Marshall, according to reporting from National Public Radio. It was on that show that Penny Marshall also got her feet wet in directing, taking the director’s chair in many of the show’s episodes during its long run.