Cindy Williams, the actress known for her role as Shirley Feeney on the sitcoms “Happy Days” and “Laverne & Shirley,” has died. She was 75.
According to a statement from family spokesperson Liza Cranis, Williams “passed away peacefully after a short illness on Wednesday, January 25th in Los Angeles.”
“The passing of our kind, hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed,” Williams’ children Emily Hudson and Zachary Hudson said in a statement, obtained by ABC News. “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 glittering spirit that everyone loved.”
They continued, “We have always been, and will remain, SO proud of her for many things… her lifelong mission to rescue animals, her prolific artistry, her faith, and most of all, her ability to make the world laugh!”
“May that laughter continue in everyone, because she would want that. Thank you for loving our Mom, she loved you too,” they added.
Williams was born in Van Nuys, California, on Aug. 22, 1947. She got her start in acting at a young age, acting in church and high school productions. After she graduated from Los Angeles City College with a theater arts degree, she started out in television with roles in “Room 222,” “Nanny and the Professor” and “Love, American Style.”
Early in her career, she landed an array of film roles including George Cukor’s “Travels with My Aunt,” George Lucas’s “American Graffiti,” and Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation.”
In 1975, Williams was cast in ABC’s “Happy Days” as Shirley Feeney, alongside actress Penny Marshall, who played Laverne De Fazio, Shirley’s roommate. The appearance of the two actresses on the show was so popular that Garry Marshall, the producer of “Happy Days,” created a spin-off series for the stars called “Laverne & Shirley.”
“Laverne & Shirley” ran on television from 1976 until 1982 and became the number one show on TV. The series led to an animated series, “Laverne & Shirley in the Army” that aired for a year.
When the series ended, Williams starred in the 1986 ABC TV film, “Help Wanted: Kids,” alongside her husband, actor and musician Bill Hudson, about an ambitious couple who rent a boy and a girl to create a family for business purposes.
Following “Laverne & Shirley” and “Help Wanted: Kids,” Williams starred in several TV series including “Normal Life,” “Getting By” and “8 Simple Rules.”
She also performed on stage in the national tours of “Grease,” “Deathtrap” and “Moon Over Buffalo.” Williams made her Broadway debut in “The Drowsy Chaperone” in 2007.
In 2004, she was honored with her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.