Actress Cindy Williams passed away last week (Wednesday, January 25) after a short illness, as confirmed by a statement from her family.
Best known for playing the lovable Shirley Feeney on the sitcom Laverne & Shirley, she was 75 years old at the time of her death.
“The passing of our kind, hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed,” a statement from her children read.
“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 that everyone loved.”
Now, perhaps unsurprisingly, stars and former colleagues of Williams are taking to social media to share their grief at her loss. That includes the iconic Ron Howard, who starred alongside her in the film American Graffiti.
By the time of her passing, Williams’s boasted a career spanning some six decades. Her credits number many, but it was undoubtedly her role on “Happy Days” spin-off “Laverne & Shirley” that turned her into a household name.
All told, the show went down a storm regarding its ratings, earning six Golden Globe nominations. Williams herself was responsible for one of those – that of best actress in a comedy category.
The actress also appeared in a number of standout films, including The Conversation (1974), Travels with My Aunt (1972), and, perhaps most notably, American Graffiti (1973), where she featured alongside Ron Howard.
Indeed, Howard considered himself a close friend of Williams’s, and told how her passing had come as a shock.
“It was a shocker to hear of Cindy’s passing. I remember her life spark and her energy,” Howard said.
“I saw her last year in Palm Springs at an event and still saw that sparkle in her eyes. It’s so hard to imagine that she’s gone.”
The Andy Griffith Show star went on to recall how Williams had taught him to kiss for his role in American Graffiti – the pair featured as one another’s love interests in Laverne and Shirley, too.
Howard said: “For a period of about four or five years, we were cast together in various projects, including The Migrants — a dramatic TV movie — in 1974, based on a play by Tennessee Williams. We had a certain chemistry together. When we did American Graffiti, she was 24 and I was 18, but we played boyfriend and girlfriend.”
He finished: “Cindy wanted to be remembered for her range of characters that she created — different tones and different styles. She admired Carol Burnett for these qualities. Cindy had so much talent and she settled for none of the ‘Hollywood traffic’ — she just did her work.”
Another Hollywood star, Henry Winkler, shared his thoughts on Williams’s passing, describing her with kind words.
Winkler said: “Cindy has been my friend and professional colleague since I met her on the set of Happy Days in 1975. Not once have I ever been in her presence when she wasn’t gracious, thoughtful and kind.
“Cindy’s talent was limitless. There was not a genre she could not conquer. I am so glad I knew her.”
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of Cindy Williams at this immeasurably difficult time.