Cindy Williams star of the Happy Days spin-off, Laverne & Shirley, has died. She was 75. Williams’ family spokesperson, Liza Cranis, confirmed the news to ET Monday.
“Actress Cindy Williams, best known as Shirley on TV’s Laverne & Shirley, passed away peacefully after a short illness on Wednesday, January 25th in Los Angeles. She was 75,” Cranis shared, before releasing a statement from Williams’ children Emily and Zak Hudson.
“The passing of our kind, hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed. 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,” the statement read. “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,” the statement continued.
Best known for her starring role on the series, which ran on ABC from 1976 to 1983, Williams played the role of Shirley, opposite Penny Marshall’s Laverne on the show, which told the story of a pair of roommates that worked at a Milwaukee bottling factory in the 1950s and 60s. Marshall, whose brother, Garry Marshall, co-created the series, died in 2018.
While the show was wildly popular, earning an Emmy for Outstanding Costumes in 1979, its theme song was equally memorable, with Williams’ and Marshall’s chant of “schlemiel, schlimazel” as they skipped together, serving as a piece of nostalgia over the years.
In addition to her work on Laverne & Shirley, Williams’ other notable roles include George Lucas’ 1973 film American Graffiti and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation in 1974.
Williams is survived by her two children, whom she shared with her ex-husband, Bill Hudson, father to both Kate and Oliver Hudson.
Following the news of her death, tributes to the late actress began rolling in, with her colleagues both past and present take a moment to remember her life and legacy. Anson Williams, who played Potsie on Happy Days, paid tribute to the late actress in a statement Monday, in which he reflected on the devastating loss.
“I am devastated. The only thing bigger than her talent was her heart. She walked the walk of kindness, a giver never a taker, a star who made everyone she touched a bigger star. Her television and film performances will entertain for years to come, but her love for people will be paid forward for generations to come,” Williams shared. “Rest In Peace beautiful lady. I love you.”
As did Michael McKean, Williams’ Laverne & Shirley co-star who told ET, “Cindy was so talented and so game. When she and Penny were cooking there’s no one who could touch them. She was a truly kind woman with a big heart and I’m very sad she’s gone.”
Henry Winkler who also appeared on Laverne & Shirley, shared his thoughts on Williams’ passing, looking back to their first meeting on the set of Happy Days.
“Cindy has been my friend and professional colleague since I met her on the set of Happy Days in 1975. Not once have I ever been in her presence when she wasn’t gracious, thoughtful and kind,” Winkler told ET. “Cindy’s talent was limitless. There was not a genre she could not conquer. I am so glad I knew her.”
Don Most, who played Ralph Malph on the sitcom also shared a tribute, in which he said he’s overcome with emotion over Williams’ passing.
“I am so devastated and incredibly saddened to hear of Cindy’s passing. I can’t stop crying. She was one of the sweetest people I knew. I loved working with her so very much,” Most said. “I will miss her dearly.”
Producer, Bruce Kimmel, who worked with Williams on their upcoming Amazon Prime Video musical series, Sami, also shared a statement with ET, in which he expressed his love for Williams and touched on their tight bond.
“I’ve known her since we began at LACC in 1965, have loved her from the moment I laid eyes on her, and have had so many incredible adventures with her,” Kimmel said. “We were as close as close can be, from then until now. And I’ve been watching her constantly as we’ve been editing the web series we just did and wrapped only two months ago. I’m so grateful to have had her be such an important part of my life for close to sixty years. I will miss her like crazy, but I’m just so happy we got to work together one final time and I can’t wait for the show to air – she was funny, charming, and brilliant right up to the end. I’ve never known anyone like her.”
Source: ET Online