I was always more of a fan of Garry Marshall the character than Garry Marshall the director. I rolled my eyes at “Pretty Woman” and had a hard time sitting through such indulgences as “Valentine’s Day” and “Georgia Rule.”
He made sloppily sentimental and popular movies (“Nothing in Common,” “Beaches”) and sloppy but sometimes amusing sitcoms (“Happy Days,” “Mork and Mindy,” “The Odd Couple’).
He was a hilarious on-screen presence in films such as “Soapdish.” He didn’t so much talk as bark or bray. Hilariously. He was a thug in “Goldfinger,” and looked the part. I had forgotten that until I was re-watching it recently, and there he was.
He discovered Robin Williams, made Julia Roberts a star and gave Richard Gere, Bette Midler and many others comebacks. He was loyal to his lifelong pal Hector Elizondo, and for decades, oversaw a long-running game of shirts-skins basketball of his peers and colleagues at his home in Beverly Hills.
I interviewed him several times, usually for a movie I didn’t care for. But he was never less than entertaining, a delight to talk to. I recall asking him if he’d had any advice for his protege Tom Hanks (one of many proteges) before Tom tackled the task of directing for the first time.
“Shoo-wah,” he grinned. “‘Tom,’ I said, ‘be shoo-wah ta bring a second pair of SHOES to the set. EVERY day.’ Why? ‘You work all morning, you’re on your feet, making a thousand decisions. Lunch time, you change your shoes. The afternoon’s like a VACA-tion for your feet!'”
That’s hilarious, and true. I checked that out with Hanks some time later, “advice that I take to this very day,” he said, laughing. ‘”A VACAY-shun for your feet!'”
Garry Marshall, brother of Penny, was one of a kind. Whatever his imprint on TV and film, he was a genuine character and will be missed. RIP.