Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Rest In Peace, Cindy Williams

I was very saddened to hear of the recent passing of Cindy Williams.  I had been a fan ever since her TV show, Laverne & Shirley, first debuted.  I was in sixth grade at the time, and I can still remember classmates talking about the show, the following day at school.

Cindy Williams ended up appearing on the cover of TV Guide (along with her co-star from the series, Penny Marshall), five times.  I saved those issues, and have kept them all these years.


1977 (artwork by Jack Davis):


1979 (artwork by Richard Amsel):


The 1977 issue featured an interview with Cindy Williams.

I was so much a fan of Laverne & Shirley, that I desperately wanted to see the show in-person.  After all, at the beginning of every episode, a voice-over would state, "Laverne and Shirley is filmed before a studio audience."  But I never knew how people got to be in the audience.  Then one day, my mom gave me something she had clipped out of the newspaper.  Someone had written in to the paper, and asked that very question.  The response included a list of addresses, one for each of the television networks.  I wrote to the address listed for ABC, and after not too long, received my tickets.

The show was filmed at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, in a sound stage that had previously been a part of the Desilu Studios, and prior to that, the RKO Studios.  This aerial view of Paramount Studios is from the book, Above Los Angeles.  I've circled (in red) the doorway through which the audience entered.

Over the years, we ended up going back to see the show three more times.  During one of my visits, I took this pic of the sign above the audience entrance.

And I saved the tickets from two of the four shows we saw.

My mom knew how big of a Laverne and Shirley fan I was.  She pulled these pages out of one of her Good Housekeeping magazines.  Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams had both been given "makeovers," courtesy of Good Housekeeping.

This Laverne & Shirley jigsaw puzzle was purchased from our local Alpha Beta grocery store:

And this TV Favorites "fan" magazine came from our local Lucky's grocery store.

The magazine included articles about the show, both of it's main stars, and also one on Phil Foster, who played Laverne's father.  Below, is the article on Cindy Williams.  Unfortunately, the magazine was made with a cheap paper, almost like the kind they would use for comic books.  But I guess it's held up pretty well, considering it's 45 years old.

 This color photo was from the inside cover:

 Rest in peace, Cindy Williams!


K. Martinez said...

What a nice memoriam and tribute to Cindy Williams. Like you I was a major fan of "Laverne & Shirley". I watched that show religiously all the way to the end. Hard to believe they're both gone now.

I think it's great that you got to go to several tapings of the show. I'm sure those are wonderful memories.

There's so much to look at here that I will have to come back and take a more thorough look. Thanks for posting, TM!

TokyoMagic! said...

Thanks, Ken. I watched the show all the way to the end, too. But that last season was not as good without Cindy Williams, in my opinion. I loved the show, but Cindy Williams/"Shirley" was always my favorite half of the duo!

TokyoMagic! said...
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Sad news indeed. Beyond friends and relatives … there is comfort knowing people from out past - like celebrities are still living. And when they leave us things feel just a little “different” a combination of sadness and being left behind … if that makes any sense . Or at least makes me feel old…Cindy Williams was my favorite on the show too. One thing I hated about Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley was how these shows took place in specific times … and as the shows progressed , the sets , costumes often became less and less period correct or even authentic … some of the last episodes of Laverne & Shirley … I thing took place in 1963 … and didn’t feel 60’s at all . I’m sure part of it was cost savings … but I have a feeling too the studios wanted the characters to be popular and tried to make them appear modern to fans ….

Was there any reunion type shows of Laverne & Shirley ? I couldn’t recall .

Thanks for this post.

TokyoMagic! said...

Mike, I agree. When the people who we grew up with on television started passing away, it did make me feel old.

And I know what you mean about the clothes and the hairstyles. It seems like production on both Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley cared more about trying to be true to the period, in their earliest seasons, but as the years went on, they seemed to care less. On Happy Days, many of the male characters went from having "slicked down" 50s style hair, to eventually having poofy blow-dried hair styles of the 70s and early 80s.

There were two Laverne & Shirley reunion shows. One was in 1995 and was basically the actors sitting around in a recreation of their basement apartment, talking about the show and showing clips from various episodes. It's on YouTube under "Laverne & Shirley Reunion (1995)" There was another reunion in 2002, called "Laverne & Shirley: Together Again." That one is similar, except about halfway through the show, they do a sketch in character, where Laverne & Shirley audition for a modern Survivor-type reality show called "Island of Doom." It's fun to see them portraying those characters, one last time. That reunion show is also on YouTube and the "modern day" sketch part begins at the 28:00 case you are interested:


Cool ! I will have to watch those. For sone reason I have no memory of those airing … but that was a time I didn’t watch much network tv. The entry marquee for Laverne & Shirley looks like it was built in the 1920’s!! You could NEVER have guests enter a studio soundstage from a door RIGHT off a sidewalk on Melrose Avenue today!!

This past weekend I had some cousins in town for a day and they wanted to see “ Hollywood” and “LA” stuff. 15 years ago I spent lots of social time up there with friends .. drinking … dining … clubbing… and exploring… . But in that time since there had been such a change!! So much of Hollywood Blvd looked like a 3rd world country!! The streets … so dirty and trashy … messy …. Cluttered with vending carts and tents like something you’d see in India or Mexico. Beautiful art deco buildings protruding above the street level with their lower levels shuttered and border up. And I was in total shock seeing the “ruins” of the old Egyptian Theatre - WHAT HAPPENED!!!!!???? I saw a showing of MAME ( Rosalind Russell version) there several years ago and it had been completely restored!! Now it was in ruin and boarded up again!!! I seriously was in shock and embarrassed showing all this to my cousins … they were just excited to be there and see rows of palm trees lol. The area around Paramount was kept up .. but west or east of it … you run into GHETTO!

And I didn’t know CLIFTONS no longer has the restaurant …. The last time I was there was when I ran into you before the Singing In the Rain showing !!

And Muso & Franks no longer opened for lunch …

CANTORS on Fairfax was perfect … the place never changes …except some appropriate period renovations .. . which is a good thing!!

The Capitol Records building was great looking … understand it had some renovation and “back dating “ remodeling done not long ago for filming “once upon a time in Hollywood”

On a bright spot we went to the Formosa Cafe for dinner and drinks - and I was surprised to find out the place had been remodeled … but mostly restored! I was in Heaven!! They did the most amazing job!! If was like the 1920’s and 30’s again… still vintage but it wasn’t worn down or tired … we had such a great time ….

TokyoMagic! said...

Mike, I used to love going to Hollywood and just driving around and exploring the area. I thought they were going to attempt to fix up Hollywood Blvd, and make it more pedestrian/tourist friendly, but maybe that never happened. I remember going to the Egyptian for some great "revival" type presentations, back when it was owned by American Cinematheque. It was supposedly purchased by Netflix in 2020.....I wonder why it is boarded up now?

I knew that the person(s) who purchased Clifton's ended up having to close it a few years after restoring it. I haven't been back since seeing you there that time. I heard that it had reopened, but I didn't know that it wasn't still being called "Clifton's."

I've never been in Cantors, but it has been on "my list" for a long time. I did get to dine at the Formosa Cafe, prior to it changing hands and receiving it's horrific remodel job. I was glad to hear that someone else purchased it and attempted to restore it to it's former glory, but I haven't seen it since that happened.

I hope that some of these locations can continue to survive and that they will stop tearing down historic buildings, but just like Disney, "they" ruin everything....eventually! It's sad!

Major Pepperidge said...

I was sad to hear of Cindy Williams’ passing, in my mind I always think of her just as she was in 1976-ish. I love the illustrated TV Guide covers, the legendary Jack Smith for 1977 (of “Mad Magazine” fame among others) and Richard Amsel for 1979 (he did tons of classic movie posters - “The Sting”, “Raiders”, “Chinatown”). Neat!

Very cool that you saw filming of “Laverne and Shirley” four times! What a fun thing to remember. And you have your tickets (two of them, anyway)!

Look at how cute Cindy looks on that Good Housekeeping magazine. I don’t know much about her life, I hope it was a happy one.

R.I.P., Cindy Williams.

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I'm familiar with so many of the covers that Richard Amsel did for TV Guide, but I never made the connection of the Jack Davis covers being the same artist who did so much of the artwork for Mad Magazine. It's so obvious now....I should have recognized the style, but I didn't until you mentioned it.

While doing a search for Jack Davis, one of the first things that came up was his "preliminary artwork" for the 1977 Laverne and Shirley TV Guide cover. It sold through Heritage Auctions, back in 2018. I might just have to add that image to this post.

Thanks again for the heads up on "Jack Smith." (I figured out that you really meant Jack Davis!)

Major Pepperidge said...

Ooops, yes, Jack Davis! Jack Smith was a columnist for the L.A. Times that my grandma loved to read!