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Garry Marshall: Henry Winkler and More Celebrities Mourn ‘Legend,’ ‘Comedy Icon’

“Pretty Woman” director and creator of “Happy Days” Garry Marshall died Tuesday at the age of 81, and it didn’t take long for the celebrity community to pay tribute to the Hollywood icon.

Henry Winkler, whose career blasted off after he landed the famous role of “The Fonz” in “Happy Days,” was one of the first to post on Twitter about Marshall. “Thank you for my professional life,” he wrote shortly after news broke.

Sarah Paulson, who starred in Marshall’s 1999 film “The Other Sister” as well as his 2011 movie “New Year’s Eve,” thanked him for “taking a chance on me.” Bob Saget called him “a comedy icon and a wonderful friend.”

“Beaches” star Bette Midler called Marshall “my wonderful, hilarious, big-hearted friend.”

Richard Gere, who starred in “Pretty Woman,” said Marshall “had a heart of the purest gold” in a statement: “Garry of course was one of those truly important people one is blessed to meet in one’s lifetime. Besides being the pulse and life force of ‘Pretty Woman’… a steady helmsman on a ship that could have easily capsized… he was a super fine and decent man, husband and father who brought real joy and love and infectious good spirits to every thing and everyone he crossed paths with. Everyone loved Garry. He was a mentor and a cheerleader and one of the funniest men who ever lived. He had a heart of the purest gold and a soul full of mischief. He was Garry.”

“Happy Days” cast members Anson Williams and Don Most also issued statements on Marshall. “Garry Marshall gave me the opportunity of many lifetimes and, more importantly, genuine love and friendship; a love that transcended far beyond show business,” said Williams. “Garry’s selfless nurturing of talent will be past on to future generations along with all that he has created. Two of my young daughters’ favorite TV show segment? ‘The Odd Couple,’ ‘Hospital Mates,’ written by Garry Marshall. Garry, you are forever with us and I love you.”
– Anson Williams

“Garry was a uniquely creative force,” said Most. “It was a great pleasure and treat to see him work, and work with him. And on top of this, he was a warm and generous man, who always fostered a feeling of family with our cast. We lost a giant today.”

Mike Karz, who produced Marshall’s final three films “Mother’s Day,” “New Year’s Eve” and “Valentine’s Day” told Variety it was an “honor and privilege” to work with the director. He added, “I was continually awestruck by how charming, disarming, generous and warm he was with each of us on the set. He impacted and enriched my life and so many others through his genuine friendship. His genius will endure for generations to come.”

See more reactions below.

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I couldn’t sleep last night. The moon was too bright and my heart was too full of fresh grief at Garry’s passing. I went outside and sat in the absurd blue-white bath of moon, surprised to see my night shadow, I thought, “Garry left on a good night.” This morning, I got a text from Heather Matarrazzo saying “Of course Garry left on a full moon.” If you know Garry, that he went out when there should be darkness and instead there is full, rare, magic light, is too perfect to be coincidence. It’s so him. Garry was goodness itself. He was generous. He was kind beyond kind. He was thoughtful and sweet and so funny you would pee yourself a little. I met him when I was a child who thought she was a grown-up; he treated me with grace and patience and respect and always, always love. I’m so happy I made three films with him. I’m so happy he blessed my son in my belly the last time I saw him (we never think it will be the last time). Before we made the Princess Diaries, he told me “You never know if a movie is going to be a hit or not. The only thing you can control is the memories you make when shooting it. So, let’s make some good memories.” That advice changed my life even more than the film did. I wish I could say I practice that perfectly, but I can't. Garry loved my rough patches too, and forgave them before I even apologized. He wasn’t interested in judgement or non-plot related conflict. He just wanted to have fun and laugh and do good work. He was so, so smart and canny, and yet he lived entirely from his heart. That’s how he made movies too. You don’t meet a lot of people that kind of courageous nowadays. I couldn’t see it when he was right in front of me, but I see him so clearly now that he has moved on- Garry was a Hero. Not a run-into-a-burning-building-to-save-a-hampster hero per se, but he looked on the bright side of every situation and was unfailingly warm and loving to everyone he met. How simple. How extraordinary. Garry: for a kid from the Bronx with weak lungs, you did good. I’m happy to have known you. I can never thank you enough for my life. I’m going to do my best to be just like you. I love you. Safe travels, my friend.

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A hard day for those of us in the Garry camp. In reflection, I share some memories and feelings with you. Garry and I were shooting Mothers Day this past year my children came to visit the set. I was behind a wall about to do a scene waiting for the very words that every working actor is quite used to, "and….ACTION!" Much to my pleasant surprise the voice booming from behind the wall was my son, Ryder. I couldn't help but smile and after we finished the scene both Garry and I shared a moment. We knew in an instant that so many things come full circle. That once upon a time that was me on his lap yelling ACTION for my mother and pa on Overboard in 1987. That in Garry's words in that moment, "The circle of life is an amazing thing isn't it…" In that moment he was more then my director, he was family. That moment meant way more then any success of any film. I looked around the set and saw faces I had known and seen since I was a little girl. In one flash of a moment there was so much recognition of how loyal, wonderful, kind, generous, funny and profound Garry was. He kept his loved ones close, he loved people, he loved making movies, he loved to laugh, he loved loved loved. And those of us who were fortunate to know him like this were so lucky. The messages Garry shared with the world truly represented his character. He wanted peace and the importance of family and connection to be at the forefront of everything he did. I have so much admiration for his purity of such loving messages. He created things that made us feel good because he just wanted people around him to be happy. Once while shooting Raising Helen, I was reaching for a laugh. I didn't feel that a scene was going right and I wasn't hitting the joke and I was incredibly frustrated. He came over to me and gently held my hand and said, "Kate, sometimes we don't need to laugh, sometimes making us smile is even more important." Garry wanted to see the world smile because he knew we all need more of that. To everyone in the Garry Marshall family, I love you all so much. I will miss you Garry ❤️ I love you.

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