‘Laverne & Shirley’ Star Cindy Williams Died Peacefully After a Brief Illness – She Was 75 Years Old

Cindy Williams, best known for her role as Shirley Feeney in the 1970s hit sitcom Laverne & Shirley, sadly passed away on January 25th following a brief illness. She was 75 years old at the time of her death and is survived by her two children, Zak and Emily, who released a statement via a spokesperson.

“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 a brilliant sense of humor and a glittering spirit,” they said. 

They went on to express how proud they were of her many accomplishments, including ‘her lifelong mission to rescue animals, her prolific artistry, her faith, and most of all, her ability to make the world laugh!’ They also left fans with a touching message; “Thank you for loving our Mom. She loved you too.”

Cindy Williams first appeared as Shirley Feeney in an episode of Happy Days in 1975 – she was a brewery bottle capper and had a roommate named Laverne De Fazio. The two characters were so beloved by audiences that the producer of the show created a spinoff series, Laverne & Shirley, in 1976. 

The show ran for 178 episodes over eight seasons and officially put Cindy Williams – and Penny Marshall, who played Laverne – on the map. They formed an extremely close bond with one another and remained friends up until Marshall’s death in December 2018 – roughly four years before Williams’ death.

“What an extraordinary loss. My good friend, Penny Marshall, is gone — one in a million. Utterly unique, a truly great talent. And, oh, what fun we had! Can’t describe how I’ll miss her,” said Williams of Marshall in 2018. Now the world is missing both of them as one of the most popular duos is peacefully laid to rest.

Cindy Williams continued to make appearances in film and television through the 2000s up until her death. She appeared in an episode of The Odd Couple in 2016 and appeared as a talk show host in Canaan Land (2020). Her career spans six decades, with dozens of roles and various accolades. 

The tributes continue to pour in as fans, family members, colleagues, and friends remember her iconic life. “Oh, how I loved Cindy Williams. She was as lovely as I always imagined she’d be,” said Yvette Nicole Brown, who worked alongside the late actress on the set of The Odd Couple in 2016.

‘Fonzie’ from Happy Days, who was played by Henry Winkler, described Williams as a ‘fine and talented human being,’ while Ron Howard – who played Richie Cunningham in Happy Days – shared a long and touching message to commemorate Williams:

“Her unpretentious intelligence, talent, wit & humanity impacted every character she created & person she worked with. We were paired as actors on six different projects. #AmericanGraffiti a couple of dramas & then #HappyDays & #laverneandshirley Lucky me. RIP, Cindy,” wrote Howard on Twitter.

Cindy Williams is survived by her daughter, Emily (born in 1982), and her son, Zachary (born in 1986). She shared her two children with Bill Hudson – of the Hudson Brothers’ musical trio – who she married in 1982, the same year Emily was born. The two got divorced in 2000. Our hearts go out to her family.