Garry Marshall’s resume reads like a pop-culture cheat sheet for the past 50 years. He got his start penning scripts for sitcoms starring Lucille Ball and Dick Van Dyke, produced "Happy Days," and "Laverne and Shirley," and then became a hugely successful director with movies like "Pretty Woman" and "The Princess Diaries."
The 77-year-old Bronx native, who still speaks with a "New Yawk" accent, is known throughout Hollywood as one of the nicest guys, and when you read his memoir "My Happy Days in Hollywood," you’ll soon agree. The man has nothing bad to say about anyone -- not his sister Penny, who tortured him while filming "Laverne and Shirley" (her blurb for the book is, "Thanks to my brother I have a life. I’m sorry I almost ruined his during 'Laverne & Shirley'), nor Lindsay Lohan, who was habitually late while filming "Georgia Rule."
Marshall spoke with The Huffington Post about his long career, lasting marriage and happy nature.
You are such an optimistic person.
Yeah, you’ve got to be positive. Growing up, I was a very sickly child, so if I wake up and don’t have a headache it’s going to be a good day.
You write of how you had major financial difficulties and nearly lost your home.
Yes, we were very close to bankruptcy. A lot of times, artistic people don’t handle money. We hire people to handle money and you’ve got to watch them, and it didn’t work out so well for us. You get whacked and things go wrong; you’ve got to come back. That was something I wasn’t sure I could come back from but I did.
I love "Beaches." It’s the ultimate girl’s movie.
Yes I do girl’s movies. Scorpio, Italian, sisters and daughters. I love to work with women. I had an idea that the story was very touching. To be honest, I’m fascinated with the way that women argue differently than men. My father argued with his brother and they didn’t talk for 30 years. My daughters argue and two hours later they go shopping. So I loved that dynamic even though there was sadness to it.
I have to tell you I think I’ve seen "Pretty Woman" at least 30 times.
That’s a good thing. It was more or less a Cinderella story meeting Prince Charming. I was very proud of it because love stories usually don’t work internationally. You’ve got to blow up a car. But ‘Pretty Woman’ went all over the world.
You say that Julia Roberts and Richard Gere couldn’t wait for the kissing scenes.
Richard was very kind because Julia was new. Whenever you film kissing scenes, everybody shows up. People who never come to the set. Suddenly, the fireman says, "I’ve got to check the wires." The publicist shows up, everybody comes. Usually when I do a love scene, the girl’s more comfortable than the boy, but Richard was very comfortable and put Julia at ease.
I got the impression that they had an off-set fling too.
We don’t talk about that! I don’t know, but they did get along quite well. You see, you can fake anything in this business except chemistry and when two people kiss, the audience knows if there’s chemistry or not and Richard and Julia had great chemistry.
You make directing sometimes sound as if you’re a teacher dealing with unruly children.
Sometimes we use the word "contrary." I do get along pretty good with everyone and you’ve got to deal with actors. I work a lot with very young actors, so I’m watching them grow up while I’m directing. I find it very comfortable.
You directed Lindsay Lohan in "Georgia Rule." You went out with her one night to a club and she made fun of your shoes. I thought that was mean.
No, no she was right. I’m not too hip with Velcro shoes. She was helping me to be hip and happening. We got along very well. She’s a wonderful actress. Take all the big people who have become stars and about half of them get messed up. I always try to help them out. Part of my joy is seeing young stars settle down like Julia and her three kids. I only wish the same for Lindsay.
You’ve been married for a long time.
Yes, we’re 49 years and it’s still iffy, but we’re doing all right. I’m the world’s worst driver and my wife could get a job driving a truck or a cab in New York. I can’t fix anything and for my wife’s birthday I got her a tool kit because she can fix anything. I’m good at making her laugh and I always surprise her with presents and flowers so I do some things good and she does some things good. That’s why we get along.
I love that you make no apologies for your nepotism.
Once I found out it wasn’t illegal... I’m still often sickly, or I think I am, so when I go to the set it’s always good to see a relative.
You’ve done "New Year’s Eve" and "Valentine’s Day." What holidays are next, Purim? Easter?
I like Sukkot and St. Anthony’s Day. I’m actually going to try to get back into television.
Do you have any deep, dark secrets?
I went to a nudist colony a couple of times when I had financial troubles and I was getting subpoenaed. So I went to this nudist colony because you can’t put any papers in your pockets. I enjoyed it there. I played tennis, I won a trophy.
Yes, mixed doubles yet! I had a hat on but that was it. It was very peaceful until one day a young lady came up to me. I was sitting on my blanket, she was totally nude and suddenly I don’t know where it came from, she handed me her picture and resume. That’s why I left; up until then I really enjoyed it.
You are the nicest guy!
I don’t know, you’ll have to talk to my wife about that.