Sadly, the famed actress turned director Penny Marshall passed away in December 2018, leaving behind a sporting legacy. As an actress she was best-known for her role in the TV sitcom Laverne & Shirley, and she directed movies such as Big and A League of Their Own. She loved sports and regularly attended games, becoming known as Hollywood’s biggest sports fan.
Her first love
Being raised in the Bronx, one of Marshall’s first sporting loves was the New York Yankees. She loved the baseball team so much that she would sneak out of school to catch Yankees games. As a young child she began collecting baseball cards, and that collection soon grew.
Marshall had a huge memorabilia collection including mountains of signed baseballs, hundreds of bobbleheads, and even a seat from the original Yankee Stadium. Thanks to her love of collecting baseball cards, Marshall was even given her very own.
After she became a famous actress, Marshall was a permanent resident in Los Angeles. That meant getting to the Yankees games was going to be difficult, but that didn’t mean she would drop her love of sport. Moving to LA simply meant she had to find a new team. She found a new home in the Staples Center following the Lakers and the Clippers. Marshall loved watching sports, so she was more than happy to cheer on her new LA teams, despite being from miles away.
She was a regular, but she didn’t like to sit in the crowd to have the spotlight on her. Instead of choosing a courtside seat at the center line she sat behind the baskets. Marshall still got close to the players, admitting she had conversations with them regularly. She preferred to stay out of the view of the cameras, leaving the attention to famous Lakers fans like Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Under the basket was the perfect spot for Marshall as she wanted to be able to eat her snacks without worrying about cameras pointed at her. While the celebrities might be out in force for the Lakers, Marshall proved her real love was not the fame, but the game. She was recognized as a superfan by the NBA, and many believe no celebrity went to more Clippers games than Marshall.
Marshall became friends with several sports stars through her support, but perhaps none more so than Dennis Rodman. The pair hit things off when Rodman was with the Chicago Bulls. They stayed in touch, and Marshall claimed to have even invited the former NBA star to Thanksgiving dinner.
A documentary on Rodman’s life was commissioned, and Rodman knew there was only one person to direct it, none other than his friend Penny Marshall. The documentary is due for release in 2019, and it’s fitting that the last piece of work Marshall did was about sports.
Not only was Penny Marshall an incredibly talented actress and director but she was a huge sports fan. Arguably she is Hollywood’s greatest sports fan, and she will be missed both from our screen and courtside.