A League of Her Own
I can’t remember a time that I didn’t know Penny Marshall. Not personally, of course. I didn’t even know her name was really Penny and not Laverne. She was a part of this eclectic group of strong women I grew up watching on television without knowing they were strong women. Just like I didn’t know Laverne was really Penny or Jamie Sommers was really Lindsey Wagner or Diana Prince was really Lynda Carter.
Yes, I group Laverne DeFazio in with The Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman.
I didn’t realize I had these strong women as role models until one of my sisters pointed it out a couple of years ago. They were who I watched every week. Later, with Laverne, I watched every day after school in syndication.
In college there was a cinema class that screened movies before they were released. It was an upper division course that probably had 20-25 students in it each semester. It was in the Norris Theater, which holds more than 300 people, so they would open it up to all students. So I went. A lot.
Part of the course was that they’d have the writer and director and actors there for a Q & A. Not everyone each time, just whom ever was available.
There must have been a screening of Awakenings. Big was too early and A League of Their Own was too late. Penny Marshall was there. She wasn’t glamorous in the usual way. She wore a black sweater and jeans. Not sleek but not sloppy. She had unfamiliar glasses; Laverne didn’t wear glasses. But it was her Converse that got me. I was wearing the same shoes she was.
It shouldn’t surprise me that some of these role models are passing. Penny Marshall was 75 years old. That’s a long, and in her case, accomplished life. And yet, when the LA Times notification slid across my phone, tears fogged my glasses. Glasses that I didn’t need when I first saw Awakenings.
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know Penny Marshall. Thank you for all the laughs. More important, thank you for showing me what a normal woman looked like making it on her own. I’m sure that through all of my own trials and tribulations your example has played a part in why I’m able to keep going.