Cindy Williams (Actress) - Laverne & Shirley
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Updated: 2/13/23

Name: Cindy Williams

Birth Name: Cynthia Jane Williams

Born: August 22, 1947 in Van Nuys, California, USA Died: January 25, 2023 in Los Angeles, California, USA

Claim To Fame: Cindy Williams was an American actress and producer best known for her role as Shirley Feeney on the television sitcoms Happy Days (1975-1979), and Laverne & Shirley (1976-1982). She also appeared in American Graffiti (1973) and The Conversation (1974).

Family Life: In 1982, Williams married Bill Hudson of the musical trio Hudson Brothers; the marriage ended in divorce in 2000. They had two children, Emily Taylor Hudson and William Zachary Hudson.

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Info: She had a sister named Carol Ann.

Was raised Roman Catholic.

Williams wrote and acted at a church during childhood.

Acted in productions at Birmingham High School; she graduated in 1965.

She attended Los Angeles City College where she majored in theater.

Met ex-husband Bill Hudson at a celebrity softball game in 1981.

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Trivia: After college, Williams began her professional career by landing national commercials, which included Foster Grant sunglasses and TWA.

After accompanying an actor-friend from LACC who needed a scene partner for the audition and was also accepted at The Actors Studio West.

William's played Laurie, Ron Howard's character's high school sweetheart, in George Lucas's American Graffiti (1973), for which she earned a BAFTA nomination as Best Supporting Actress.

Was cited as one of the most promising movie personalities of 1973 in John Willis' 1974 Film Annual "Screen World" book.

The following year she appeared in Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation (1974).

Auditioned for the role of Princess Leia Organa in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), but Lucas wanted a younger actress, so the part ultimately went to Carrie Fisher.

Williams met Penny Marshall, first on a double date, and later at Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope company. They were hired as comedy writers. While the two were writing for Zoetrope, Penny Marshall's brother, Garry Marshall, called to ask if they would like to make an appearance on an episode of Happy Days, a TV series he produced.

In 1975, Williams was cast as a fun-loving brewery bottle capper, Shirley Feeney, in an episode of Happy Days with Penny who played her best friend and roommate Laverne De Fazio.

The girls were cast as dates of Richie and Fonzie (Henry Winkler). Their appearance proved so popular that Garry Marshall, commissioned a spin-off series.

Williams continued her role on the very successful Laverne & Shirley series from 1976 until 1982. At one point during its run, the series was the number one rated show on television.

She left the show after the second episode of the show's eighth and what would become its final season, after she became pregnant with her first child.

Williams and co-star Penny Marshall had also been feuding for quite some time on the set long before Williams became pregnant. They would reconcile many years later.

The success of the TV series led to a short-lived Saturday morning animated series Laverne & Shirley in the Army (1981-82), created by Hanna-Barbera.

In 1979, she reprised her role of Laurie from American Graffiti in its sequel, More American Graffiti.

In 1990, Williams starred in an unsold pilot for CBS that was adapted from the 1989 film Steel Magnolias. Williams was cast as M'Lynn Eatenton, the role that was originated by Sally Field in the film.

She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Television in a double ceremony with Penny Marshall at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on August 12, 2004.

Has appeared in two films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant": American Graffiti (1973) and The Conversation (1974).

In 2007, she made her Broadway debut as daffy Mrs. Tottendale in The Drowsy Chaperone at the Marquis Theatre.

Williams performed onstage in the national tours of Grease, Deathtrap, and Moon Over Buffalo as well as a regional production of Nunsense.

In 2008, she reunited with her Laverne & Shirley co-star Eddie Mekka in a regional production of the Renée Taylor-Joseph Bologna comedy play It Had to Be You.

In 2015, her memoir Shirley, I Jest! (co-written with Dave Smitherman) was published and she engaged in celebrity branding for the senior citizen service Visiting Angels.

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Where Are They Now: After a brief illness, Williams died in Los Angeles on January 25, 2023, at the age of 75. Williams does have a posthumously project, a TV series entitled Sami, which is currently post-production. Fans, be sure to keep an eye out for that.


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