LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Cindy Williams, who played Shirley opposite Penny Marshall's Laverne on sitcom ‘Laverne & Shirley,’ is no more. The 75-year-old died on Wednesday, January 25 after a brief illness, her children, Zak and Emily Hudson, said in a statement. It read, as previously stated, “The passing of our kind, hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed. Knowing and loving her has been our joy and privilege. She was one of a kind, beautiful, generous and possessed.”
Born in Van Nuys, California, Williams also starred in 1972 'Travels with My Aunt,' 'American Graffiti' in 1973, which earned Williams a British Academy Film Awards nomination for best supporting actress, and 'The Conversation' in 1974. However, she was best known for 'Laverne & Shirley' that ran on ABC from 1976 to 1983 making her and Marshall made a marvelous duo.
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However, it wasn’t all fun behind the scenes. In 1977, she told TV Guide, as per The Mercury News, that Marshall’s character was getting all the attention. In 1982, Williams got pregnant and left the show. Talking about it in 2015, she said, as stated by People, "I had recently gotten married and I was pregnant and I thought I was going to come back and they’d hide me behind benches, couches, pillows, and that wasn’t it. When it came time for me to sign my contract for that season, they had me working on my due date to have my baby and I said, ‘I can’t sign this,’ and it went back and forth and back and forth and it just never got worked out.” Marshall’s character tried to hold it alone but the ratings declined and the series was canceled the following year.
In 2016, Marshall told the Archive of American Television that Williams’ sudden exit from the show was because of her husband, Bill Hudson. She said, as per People, "It was all insanity. I was going out in front of the audience and they said, ‘What happened with Cindy?’ It was a drag. She said they didn’t want her back. There was all this garbage that was said, but no, it was [her husband]… I missed her not being there.” She told Fox News the same year, "We were not estranged during the show but then she got married. I was very happy. She was having a baby but Bill (Hudson her then husband) was a pain in the ass. He wanted to be a producer. So that’s what happened. But she was married and she thought he was being protective."
Bill Hudson, the former vocalist in The Hudson Brothers, married Williams in 1982 and got divorced in 2000. During their marriage, they welcomed two children, daughter Emily and son Zachary. He was previously married to actress Goldie Hawn and had children Oliver Hudson and Kate Hudson.
Hudson praised Williams for knowing how to manage her time between work and their family, unlike his ex-wife. He said in 1989, "Cindy knows how to balance her family and her work. I never had that in my marriage with Goldie—no matter how she came on after our divorce as this abandoned little creature who was taken advantage of by men," reports People.