Sitcom Star Cindy Williams Dies at 75

Photo from Wiki Commons CindyWilliams

Sitcom Star Cindy Williams Dies at 75

By Movieguide® Contributor 

 Cindy Williams, best known for her role in HAPPY DAYS spinoff, LAVERNE & SHIRLEY, died on Jan 25, 2023. She was 75. 

 “The passing of our kind, hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed,” William’s children shared, via the Associate Press, “knowing and loving her has been our joy and privilege. She was one of a kind, beautiful, generous and possessed a brilliant sense of humor and a flittering spirit that everyone loved.”  

Williams passed away following a brief illness. 

According to Variety: 

Born in Van Nuys, Calif. On Aug. 22, 1947, Williams’ love for acting began at Birmingahm High School. She attended Los Angeles City College as a theater major. After scoring several commercial spots, Williams transitioned to television in the early ‘70s with small roles on shows like ROOM 222, BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, NANNY AND THE PROFESSOR and LOVE, AMERICAN STYLE.

Williams truly broke out in George Lucas’ 1973 coming-of-age film AMERICAN GRAFITTI as Laurie Henderson, which earned her a BAFTA nomination for best actress in a supporting role. Williams also scored a role in Fancis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION in 1974, starring alongside Gene Hackman, Harrison Ford and Robert Duvall.

Williams scored her big break in 1975, when she and Penny Marshall were cast in ABC’s HAPPY DAYS as Shirley and her best friend Laverne DeFazio, who went on a double date with Richie (Ron Howard) and Fonzie (Henry Winkler). The guest appearance was so popular that it led to their own spinoff, LAVERNE & SHIRLEY, which followed the friends’ lives as roommates and co-workers at Shotz Brewery.

Williams departed the show in its eighth and final season after she became pregnant with her first child.

“Cindy has been my friend and professional colleague since I met her on the set of HAPPY DAYS in 1975. Not once have I ever been in her presence when she wasn’t gracious, thoughtful and kind,” Winkler said in a statement after Williams’ death. “Cindy’s talent was limitless. There was not a genre she could not conquer. I am so glad I knew her.”

According to produced and friend Bruce Kimmel, Williams had been working on a new show that is set to premier this year. “Cindy was really looking forward to promoting her new project, the short form musical series, SAMI, which will premiere in April on Amazon Prime.”

Williams is survived by her children Zak and Emily. Please pray for them as they continue to process the death of their mother. 


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