Film & TV

Garry Marshall: Behind the Scenes of a Feel-Good Empire

The "Pretty Woman" director's journey from joke writer to Hollywood heavyweight was a winding road, filled with both triumphs and setbacks.

June 7, 2024

a book by garry marshall titled wake me when it 's funny


Garry Marshall's career, fueled by tenacity, creative vision, and an uncanny ability to tap into the pulse of popular culture, framed him as a storyteller of mounting capabilities. His journey from joke writer to Hollywood heavyweight was a winding road, filled with both triumphs and setbacks.

Early Days: From the Bronx to Hollywood

Born in the Bronx, New York, Marshall's early life was steeped in show business. His mother ran a dance school, and his father directed industrial films. Marshall's comedic talents emerged early on, writing jokes for comedians while still in college. After serving in the Korean War, he honed his writing skills on "The Tonight Show" and various sitcoms.

It was his collaboration with Jerry Belson that led to his first major success. The duo adapted Neil Simon's play "The Odd Couple" for television, a series that became a critical and commercial hit. Marshall's star was on the rise.

ABC Television, 1970-1975. A group of four 16mm film reels; all housed in brown canisters, each featuring an episode of the beloved series created by Marshall including the titles "Cleanliness is Next to Impossible," "Felix Remarries," "The Odd Monks," and "Oscar's Birthday;" playable condition unknown.

PROVENANCE The Estate of Garry Marshall

Garry Marshall

Laughter & Love: A Perfect Mix

Spanning over five decades, Marshall's longevity is a testament to his versatility and creative genius. He began as a writer for iconic sitcoms like "The Lucy Show" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show." But it was his creation of hit series like "Happy Days," "Laverne & Shirley," and "Mork & Mindy" that cemented his status as a television legend.

Transitioning to film, Marshall's knack for storytelling continued to shine. "Pretty Woman," "Beaches," "Overboard," "The Princess Diaries" – these films became cultural touchstones, known for their endearing characters, heartwarming narratives, and feel-good vibes. But there's more to Marshall's films than meets the eye.

There's a unique charm to Marshall's films. They're not always the flashiest or the most critically acclaimed, but many hold special places in the collective hearts of comedy films and slapstick romantic folly. This is largely due to Marshall's extraordinary ability to blend humor, warmth, and a touch of magic into stories that resonate with audiences across generations.

Walt Disney Pictures, 2001. A group of four print advertisements; of various sizes and styles; three are small, unframed, and signed by Marshall in black felt-tip ink; one is larger, framed, and not signed.

Framed; 18 x 24.5 and smaller

PROVENANCE The Estate of Garry Marshall

Posters, Garry Marshall

Marshall's success was not just due to his individual talent; he was also a master collaborator. He fostered a supportive and creative environment on set, encouraging actors to improvise and bring their own ideas to the table. He valued teamwork and believed that the best results came from working together towards a common goal.

Championing Women in a Male-Dominated Industry

One of Marshall's most remarkable talents was his ability to showcase women in powerful, complex roles. He understood the importance of portraying female characters with substance, depth, and authenticity.

In "Pretty Woman," Julia Roberts' Vivian Ward is not just a working girl with a heart of gold; she's a woman who challenges societal norms, defies expectations, and finds love on her own terms. In "Beaches," Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey deliver powerhouse performances as best friends navigating life's ups and downs, showcasing the enduring power of female friendships.

Even in seemingly lighthearted comedies like "Overboard" and "The Princess Diaries," Marshall's female characters are never mere caricatures. They're strong, independent, and capable of achieving their dreams, even when faced with adversity.

Touchstone, 1990. A page removed from the July 11, 1990 issue of The Hollywood Reporter with a headline reading "Boy, has this lady got legs!" -- referencing the massively successul film directed by Marshall which starred Julia Roberts and Richard Gere; displayed in the director's offices for many years.

Matted and Framed; 19 x 22 inches

PROVENANCE The Estate of Garry Marshall

Posters, Garry Marshall

The Marshall Touch

Garry Marshall's films continue to captivate audiences today. Their enduring popularity is a testament to Marshall's unique ability to create stories that uplift, inspire, and entertain. He left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry, not just as a master storyteller but as a champion of women in film.

Marshall's legacy reminds us that even in a world filled with darkness and cynicism, there's always room for laughter, love, and a little bit of magic. And that's something worth celebrating. Don’t be a “Runaway Bride” – register and bid on more than 70 items from The Estate of Garry Marshall – only available in TCM and Julien’s Hollywood Legends: Danger, Disaster & Disco auction.

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