A League of Her Own

This image is stolen with respect from Martin Bruckner. He’s an extraordinary artist I follow on  Instagram . You can purchase his prints on  Etsy .

This image is stolen with respect from Martin Bruckner. He’s an extraordinary artist I follow on Instagram. You can purchase his prints on Etsy.

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 AwakeningsBig 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.

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