Directors Career: Marshall, Penny (Big, A League of Their Own)

Penny Marshall, largely known as a TV actress, became a director at the encouragement of her older, more famous brother, Gary Marshall.

She began by helming episodes of Laverne and Shirley and other TV assignments.

She moved on to theatrical films, making her directing debut in 1986 with Jumpin’ Jack Flash, starring Whoopi Goldberg, the a rising star (after her performance in Spielberg’s The Color Purple).

Marshall has directed several successful feature films in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In 1988, Big, starring Tom Hanks, became the first film directed by a woman to gross over US$100 million.

This comedy hit was followed by Awakenings (1990), starring Robin Williams and De Niro, which was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar (but not Best Director).

Marshall also scored with audiences in 1992, with the dramedy, A League of Her Own, starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, and Rosie O’Donnell.

In 1991, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award.

He directorial career began to decline with the release of The Preacher’s Wife (1996), which, despite star power (Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston, was a disappointment.

In 2010–2011, she directed some episodes of the Showtime series, United States of Tara.

In 2013,  Women in Film and Video presented Marshall with the Women of Vision Award.

In 2014 she announced she was developing a biopic on Effa Manley, entitled Effa.

All in all, her directing career was viable for less than a decade, quite typical of the career patterns of other female directors, such as Barbra Streisand, who’s Marshall’s age (a year older, in fact).

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