Director, writer, and producer Garry Marshall

Garry Marshall, principal speaker

Garry Marshall, award-winning television and film director, writer, producer, and actor, will be the principal speaker at Lafayette’s 177th Commencement on Saturday, May 19. He will also be awarded an honorary degree.

Best known for creating the popular television series Happy Days and The Odd Couple, Marshall also has directed more than 25 movies including The Flamingo Kid, Nothing in Common, Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, The Princess Diaries, Valentine’s Day and, most recently, the romantic comedy New Year’s Eve, which premiered in December.

The National Association of Broadcasters announced in January that Marshall will be inducted into its Broadcasting Hall of Fame in April.

Lafayette selected Marshall as its Commencement speaker because his commitment to the performing and visual arts reflects those of the College, says President Daniel H. Weiss. For example, plans are underway for a $10 million expansion of Lafayette’s arts campus on North Third Street that will house a new film and media studies program, and a Global Arts Infusion and Visiting Artists Initiative was created with an $800,000 Mellon Foundation grant to further integrate art into the College’s curriculum.

“Having him here is part of our celebration of the arts,” says Weiss, noting Marshall owns and operates the Falcon Theater in Burbank, Calif., with his daughter, Kathleen.

With a career that spans more than 50 years, Marshall began as a joke writer for comedians Joey Bishop and Phil Foster, then moved to Hollywood to write for television, first for the Jack Paar Show. As  executive producer of sitcoms in the late 1970s, he helped ABC win the ratings race for the first time in the network’s history. By the end of the 1978-79 season, four of the five highest-rated shows of the year were Marshall’s, for which Publishers Weekly dubbed him “king of the sitcoms.” From 1970 to 1996, he produced 27 series or made-for-television movies. These included, besides those previously mentioned, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, The New Odd Couple, and Who’s Watching the Kids.

Marshall’s television series were nominated for five prime-time Emmys (one for Mork and Mindy, the others for The Odd Couple). He is the recipient of the Lucy Award, presented by Women in Film in recognition of excellence and innovation in creative works that have enhanced the perception of women through the medium of television (1996); and the Legend Award, presented by TV Land to entertainers whose body of work has stood the test of time and ranks among the most memorable and celebrated in TV and movie history (2008). Among his many other honors are the Creative Achievement Award from the American Comedy Awards (1990), Motion Picture Showmanship Award from the Publicists of the International Cinematographers Guild (1992), the Valentine Davies Award from the Writers Guild of America (1995), the Lifetime Achievement Award in Television from the Producers Guild of America (1998), the Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award from the American Cinema Editors (2004), and the PRISM Award for Best Feature Film for Georgia Rule (2008).

He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1983.

He holds a B.S. in journalism from Northwestern University, where the Barbara and Garry Marshall Studio wing of Louis Hall, which houses the film sound stage, is named in honor of Marshall and his wife, the former Barbara Wells.


Learn more about Lafayette’s efforts to infuse the arts throughout the curriculum.

Note: Higher resolution photo available.

Kathleen Parrish
Associate Director of Media Relations
Lafayette College, Easton, PA 18042
(610) 330-5524