Cindy Williams loved playing the role of Shirley on Laverne & Shirley

Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall were surprised when Laverne & Shirley became one of the most-watched TV series in the country.

Image credit: The Everett Collection

Cindy Williams played the role of Shirley Feeney on the hit '70s sitcom, Laverne & Shirley. She was the second half to one of TV's most iconic comedy duos. Williams brought her own genuine energy and uniqueness to the character, which helped make the spin-off sitcom a hit.

Laverne & Shirley was the Happy Days spin-off series, which aired at the same time Happy Days was on TV. The success of Laverne & Shirley came as a surprise to many, including Penny Marshall (Laverne) and Williams. Nonetheless, it was the second most-watched TV show in the country at one point in time.

In a 1976 interview with The Fresno Bee, Williams talked about how she was able to make Shirley one of the most likeable characters on a TV series.

"I watch the show myself. It makes me laugh," she said. "Sometimes, I just forget it's me and Penny up there and just laugh out loud and that's what it's all about. I know it's a dumb show. It really is. It's just fun, it's just for fun, but you have to exhaust yourself to make it fun for the audience."

According to the interview, Williams went to college in Los Angeles before taking acting classes in New York. She was in only a few notable roles before taking Laverne & Shirley, but the series would turn into an overnight success story. And Williams would become popular too.

"They say I live in a mansion in Beverly Hills," she said. "I do, but it's two and a half rooms on one wing I rent from some friends. Listen, television is hard work. It's 10 times harder than movies. But, on the other hand, it really is fun and it really is great, as great as everyone thinks it is."

Television was hard work, but Williams worked harder. 

In a 1976 interview with Corpus Christi Times, both Penny Marshall and Williams recalled what it was like during the Laverne & Shirley season premiere.

"The audience was half asleep and me and this other girl came on, with 14 pages to do, they didn't know who the heck we were, and it got laughs," Marshall said. 

"We were terrified, I mean we were terrified, either direction it might take," Williams said. "We were certain we were going to go into the toilet."

Both Marshall and Williams gave the series 13 weeks before it would get cancelled. But something amazing happened. 

"The phenomena of that kind of popularity where you're before 50 million people one night each week, it's something you dream about when you have inklings of becoming an actress," Williams said. 

Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

20 Comments

Nala92129 16 months ago
I can't believe she's gone. Way too young!
timothys71 16 months ago
Kind of sad to hear of Cindy Williams' passing. Looking forward to the tribute on MeTV on Sunday afternoon. Hopefully they can get this show, and its parent series Happy Days, back in a regular slot on the schedule in the not-too-distant future.
Coldnorth 16 months ago
The hardest part of watching channels like MeTV is many of the great actors and actresses are gone. Is Lenny the only actor left?
PDCougar Coldnorth 16 months ago
Of the original cast, it's strangely just Michael McKean left. Also still alive: Carol White played Rosie Greenbaum, mostly during the 2nd season. And if you count the "California years", there's also Leslie Easterbrook ("Rhonda"), plus Ed Marino was in half of a season before joining "Hill Street Blues."
Coldnorth PDCougar 16 months ago
I loved the Rosie and Laverne storylines, and Shirley trying to make peace. Rosie is a very funny person. Was she in any other show?
Runeshaper 16 months ago
Great story! Thanks for sharing, MetV! (-:
Pj 16 months ago
Love that show. Laughed all the time. Having a bad day watch this to make me laugh. So sorry for your loss.
Andybandit 16 months ago
How sad that Cindy Williams passed away. I love Laverne and Shirley. I wish MeTv would put it on again somewhere on Sundays.
I wish DISH would bring back MeTV…I’m so happy I recorded all the L&S episodes when they aired last year or so 👏 I will be watching 🙏🏻
I’m still crossing my fingers and toes for you. I wish DISH would hurry up, my toes are cramping up
Lol. Thank you for your support 😉
Mob39 16 months ago
So sad! Love Lavern & Shirley RIP
MrsPhilHarris 16 months ago
I wonder if it was common to rent out rooms in mansions. 🤔
LoveMETV22 MrsPhilHarris 16 months ago
I wonder if it was common to rent out rooms in mansions. 🤔
-------------------------------------------------------------
Maybe? It is possible to rent mansions ,even currently, not always cheap though.

https://www.airbnb.com/united-states/stays/mansions
AllisonWunderland 16 months ago
I was totally shocked when I saw this news. Bless your heart and R.I.P. Cindy 🥰 You were such an inspiration and will be missed. Never forgotten 🙏🏻
Mblack 16 months ago
A famous actor lived in half a mansion. A remcent story, I can't remember who. Maybe she lived with him.
LoveMETV22 Mblack 16 months ago
https://www.metv.com/stories/robert-reed-lived-in-half-of-a-mansion-during-the-brady-bunch
Mblack LoveMETV22 16 months ago
Thanks. I couldn't remember.

So now we have two examples of actors sharing a mansion.

Runeshaper LoveMETV22 16 months ago
Thanks! I forgot too lol
LoveMETV22 Mblack 16 months ago
LOl. There might be others ? Not sure every celebrity's living arrangements have been published.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?