ABC remembers television and movie wizard Garry Marshall in a two-hour special airing Tuesday night.
“The Happy Days of Garry Marshall” (8-10 p.m.) pays tribute to the mastermind behind classic TV shows “Happy Days,” “Laverne & Shirley” and “Mork & Mindy” and the director of popular movies including “Pretty Woman,” “A League of Their Own” and “Beaches.”
The Bronx-born Marshall’s life and career is recalled through reminiscences from his family, friends and colleagues. Marshall’s own recorded voice features prominently throughout the telecast (he died in 2016 at the age of 81).
On-camera interviews include Julia Roberts, Julie Andrews, Richard Gere, Pam Dawber and Henry Winkler — who shot to stardom as Fonzie on “Happy Days.”
“The diversity of his vision was surprising at every turn,” Winkler, 74, tells The Post. “He had the ability, once he was tired or bored with TV … to challenge himself, and he went on to make wonderful movies that had enormous depth of the human condition.
“He had this creative river that just flowed out of him.”
Winkler says he learned first-hand the respect, loyalty and — and, in some cases, awe — that Marshall inspired once they became close friends.
“I’m so grateful that he came into my life,” he says. “The amazing thing was that when I would go and have lunch with him at his office at the Falcon Theatre — which is now The Garry Marshall Theatre — it was filled with memorabilia from every project he’d ever worked on. There was almost no place to sit down.
“And while we’re having lunch, he’s Ace-bandaging both knees because he would not give up the opportunity to play softball or basketball. While we’d be chatting, there was a line of people outside, some he knew and some he didn’t know, just hoping for a moment with the guru.
“And he had time for everybody.”
Marshall was no flash-in-the-pan. His comedy-writing resume included “The Jack Paar Show,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Joey Bishop Show” and “The Lucy Show.” He’d adapted Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” which ran for five seasons on ABC with stars Tony Randall and Jack Klugman.
Winkler says that Marshall, for all of his success, never affected a show-biz persona.
“He talked like he talked and he would schlep around and would only use ketchup on his pasta,” he says. “And when he flew he took every deity out of his attache case — little statuettes of Buddha, Jesus Christ, Moses — and put them all on top of the case. And once we took off and we were safe, he would put them back in the case under his seat.”
Marshall was, at turns, “a disciplinarian, a dad, a psychologist, a writer and a creator,” Winkler says.
“One time, at the end of shooting [a ‘Happy Days’] episode and he was introducing the guest cast, I went over to him and whispered, ‘Garry, I have a plane to catch. He nodded, then put down the mic, came over to me, put me up against the wall and held my shirt and said, ‘You don’t stop me from introducing the guest cast. They have every right to be introduced just like you.’ I said, ‘Sorry, Garry, I’m going to sit here in this chair and you call me when you need me. I will never say another word.’ And I didn’t.”
Winkler says he became lifelong friends with Marshall and with his family — his son Scott, daughters Lori and Kathleen and with his “majestic” wife, Barbara.
“I would call him for advice. He put on a ‘Happy Days’ musical with Paul Williams. It was always [adopts Marshall’s Bronx accent] ‘an annuity for my grandchildren.’ I never knew the word ‘annuity’ before Garry. Every time he was casting the musical, I went and tried to help the young man playing The Fonz, and when it was done in England, he sent me over there to work with that actor.
“I know that he loved me and I loved him,” he says. “I love his memory and his entire family.”
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