On January 25th, Cindy Williams, best remembered for her role as Shirley Feeney in the popular 1970s sitcom Laverne & Shirley, passed away following a brief illness. She was 75 years old when she passed away, and her two children, Zak and Emily, are still alive.
“The passing of our kind, hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed. It has been a joy and privilege to know and love her. She was one of a kind, beautiful, generous, with a brilliant sense of humor and a sparkling spirit,” they said.
They went on to express their admiration for her many accomplishments, including “her lifelong mission to rescue animals, her prolific artistry, her faith, and, most importantly, her ability to make the world laugh!” They also left a touching message for fans: “Thank you for loving our Mom. She adored you as well.”
In 1975, Cindy Williams made her television debut on Happy Days as Shirley Feeney, a brewery bottle capper who shared a residence with Laverne De Fazio. Laverne & Shirley was a spinoff series that was produced in 1976 by the show’s producer because the two characters were so well-liked by the audience.
The program, which ran for eight seasons and featured 178 episodes, helped launch the careers of Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall, who portrayed Laverne. Over four years prior to Williams’ passing, they were quite close and remained friends up to Marshall’s death in December 2018.
“What a heartbreaking loss.” Penny Marshall said — “one in a million. Unusual, truly exceptional talent. And what a time we had! I can’t express how much I’ll miss her.” Now that one of the world’s most famous duos has been peacefully laid to rest, the world is missing both of them.
Cindy Williams continued to appear in film and television until her death in the early 2000s. In 2016, she appeared in an episode of The Odd Couple and as a talk show host in Canaan Land (2020). Her career has spanned six decades, with dozens of roles and numerous awards.
Fans, family members, colleagues, and friends continue to pay tribute to her iconic life. “Oh, Cindy Williams, how I adored her. “She was as lovely as I had hoped she’d be,” Yvette Nicole Brown, who worked with the late actress on the set of The Odd Couple in 2016.
‘Fonzie,’ played by Henry Winkler in Happy Days, described Williams as a ‘fine and talented human being,’ while Ron Howard, who played Richie Cunningham in Happy Days, shared a long and touching message to remember Williams:
“Her real intelligence, talent, wit & humanity impacted every character she created & person she worked with. We worked as actors together on six different projects. #AmericanGraffiti, a couple of dramas, #HappyDays, and then #laverneandshirley I’m very fortunate. RIP, Cindy,” Howard wrote on Twitter.
Cindy Williams is survived by her daughter, Emily, and son, Zachary, born in 1982 and 1986. She had two children with Bill Hudson, a member of the musical trio the Hudson Brothers, whom she married in 1982, the same year Emily was born. In the year 2000, the couple divorced. Our thoughts are with her family.