Late last night, Access Hollywood broke the news that director/producer Garry Marshall died of pneumonia complications following a stroke. He was 81.
Marshall directed a number of hit movies, including Pretty Woman (1990) and The Princess Diaries (2001), but before that, he was the creator of the iconic 1970s television shows I grew up on. Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy … all his, and so embedded in my mind that I frequently have one of the theme songs stuck in my head. Forty years after Laverne & Shirley first aired (with Marshall’s younger actor/director sister, Penny Marshall, playing Laverne), I’ll be walking down a sidewalk inwardly chanting, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”
I actually have the Happy Days theme song in my iTunes library. I’m not ashamed! I adored that song, the opening credits, and the Fonz. I’m sure I acquired my enduring love of leather jackets from Fonzie.
Those are the theme songs I remember the most, but last year, I recognized another one. MrB and I were staying at a hotel in St. Tropez, where only Muzak versions of songs were played, even at the bar and around the pool where you would normally hear the original versions of current hits. It was such an odd selection, ranging from the Beatles to instrumental versions of rap songs. One Muzak’d tune kept replaying in my head. It was so familiar, but I couldn’t name it. Out of desperation, I tried humming it to Shazam to get the name. (Shazam didn’t acknowledge my interpretation.) I kept humming it to MrB to see if he would have a eureka moment. After days of torture, I heard it on the hotel’s sound system again and successfully used Shazam: The Odd Couple theme!
RIP, Garry Marshall. I’m sure I’ll be singing your praises (via television theme songs) for the rest of my life!