Laverne & Shirley
American actress since 1970s, Cindy Williams is well-remembered to TV audiences as loyal and fun-loving brewery workers Shirley Feeney on the long-running hit ABC sitcom “Laverne & Shirley” (1976-1982), opposite Penny Marshall. The role garnered the actress a Golden Globes nomination in 1978. Moviegoers probably prefer to memorize the baby-cheeked beauty as the girlfriend of Ron Howard in the box office smash American Graffiti (1973), directed by George Lucas. Delivering a fine performance, she took home a BAFTA nomination.
Williams, who received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004, also has starred in such short-lived sitcoms as “Just Like Family”(1989), “Normal Life” (1990), “Getting By” (1993-1994), and has appeared as guest starred in countless series, including“7th Heaven” (2002), “8 Simple Rules” (2003) and the hit show “Happy Days” (1975). Her other movie credits include Travels With My Aunt (1972), Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation (1974), Menu for Murder (1990, TV), The Stepford Husbands (1996, TV) and The Biggest Fan (2002).
Williams’ admirers should not miss her impressive performance in the upcoming movies The Legend of William Tell (2006) and The Last Guy on Earth (2006).
Off screen, a child activist, Williams has been actively supported such organizations as Feed the Children and The National Safe Kids Council. Also, she supports organizations the American Humane Society and the SPCA. On a more personal note, the petite brunette actress was married to musician-comedian Bill Hudson from 1981 to 2000, and has two children with him. Her love life has also been linked to “Laverne & Shirley” co-star David L. Lander and the late Andy Kaufman.
19-year Nuptials Crash
Childhood and Family:
In a modest suburban area of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, Van Nuys, Cynthia Jane Williams, better known as Cindy Williams, was born on August 22, 1947 to Francesca Bellini and Beachard Williams. She came from a very poor family. Her father supported the family, including Cindy, her sister Carol Ann Williams and her step-brother Jim, by working as an electronic technician.
As a young girl, Cindy dreamed of being an actress. She accustomed to create and perform her own plays. After graduating from Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, CA, she majored in Theater Arts at L.A. City College and later honed her acting talent at The Actors Studio in Los Angeles.
In 1981, Cindy was married to comedian Bill Hudson. The marriage, however, ended in divorce on December 13, 2000. Cindy and Bill share two children, Zachary and Emily.
Brown haired, blue-eyed Cindy Williams wanted to become an actress from an early age. At age 11, she made her first movie appearance with a bit role in The Blob. After college, the vigorous girl started her professional career by landing National commercials, including TWA and Foster Grant sunglasses, and segued to TV acting with guest spots in such shows as “Room 222” (1970) and “Nanny and the Professor” (1971). It was also in 1971 that Williams landed her first real film role in director Roger Corman comedy/drama Gas-s-s-s, as Marissa, starring Talia Shire, Ben Vereen and Bud Cort. Still that same year, she debuted as a regular in the short-lived NBC series “The Funny Side,” teamed with Michael Lembeck as a counter-culture young couple.
Williams went on to play the hippie who obtains some of the dankness out of Maggie Smith’s nephew in the adventure film Travels With My Aunt (1972) for director George Cukor. But, it was her performance as Laurie Henderson, the sister of Richard Dreyfuss whose night with lover Ron Howard is chronicled, in the George Lucas-helmed American Graffiti (1973) that put the actress on the limelight, a role she later reprised for 1979’s More American Graffiti. The low-budget film became a blockbuster smash and film classic and she earned a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She followed it up with a pivotal role in Francis Ford Coppola’s crime-thriller The Conversation (1974), which starred Gene Hackman, and made her first television film in The Migrants, that same year, rejoining Ron Howard and also sharing the screen with Cloris Leachman and Sissy Spacek.
In 1975, Williams appeared on the popular ABC series “Happy Days,” and the next year, the network and the affiliation of Ed Milkis, Tom Miller and Garry Marshall turned her character of Shirley Feeney and that of Laverne DeFazio (played by Marshall’s sister, Penny) into “Laverne & Shirley”, roommates working at a brewery expecting to find happiness and spouses. The situation comedy was a hit and, Williams received a 1978 Golden Globes nomination for Best TV Actress - Musical/Comedy for her brilliant work in the show. In 1982, she left “Laverne & Shirley,” citing overwhelming differences.
After the departure, Williams worked with husband Bill Hudson to star in Help Wanted: Kids (ABC, 1986), a television film about an ambitious pair who rent a boy and a girl to make a family for business purposes. The notion was turned into a sitcom series for The Disney Channel in 1989 called “Just Like Family,” but it did not last long. The next year, Williams tested the waters in sitcoms again in another brief show, “Normal Life,” portraying the mother of Moon Unit and Dweezil Zappa. She then was seen in such projects as television films Steel Magnolias (1990), Menu for Murder (1990), Earth Angel (1991), and the forgettable film Bingo (1991), before trying her hand in sitcoms again with “Getting By” (NBC, 1993-1994), as Cathy Hale. Meanwhile, she enjoyed a box office success as a co-producer for the highly successful feature film Father of the Bride (1991), and later for its 1995 sequel.
Williams rejoined Penny Marshall for “The Laverne & Shirley Reunion” in 1995, and played one of the wives who want ideal spouses in the CBS film The Stepford Husbands in 1996 as well as appeared with Rodney Dangerfield and Debi Mazar in the comedy movie Meet Wally Sparks in 1997, where she was cast as the wife of a governor. Williams closed the decade with a supporting role in the made-for-TV film The Patty Duke Show: Still Rockin’ in Brooklyn Heights.
Entering the new millennium, Williams took on the recurring role of Ronnie in “For Your Love” (2000-2002) and played Mary Ellen Doyle on two episodes of “8 Simple Rules” (2003). She also made several guest appearances on television series, including in “7th Heaven” (2002) and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (2004), as well as returned to feature film with a feature part in the drama The Biggest Fan (2002), as the mother of Kaila Amariah. In 2004, she hosted TV’s Greatest Sidekicks and appeared as Lisa James in two episodes of television series “Girlfriends.”
The 59-year-old performer has recently completed The Legend of William Tell (2006), a direct-to-video family film starring Ed Begley Jr., Dustin Hunter Evans andZac Gardner. She is now filming The Last Guy on Earth (2006), a comedy by writer-director Jim Fitzpatrick. Among her costars in the upcoming movie are Yasmine Bleeth, Whoopi Goldberg, Elizabeth Hurley, Lisa London, Brooke Shields and Talia Shire, among others.