In Movies & TV

Garry Marshall, representing Milwaukee during "The Happy Days of Garry Marshall." (PHOTO: ABC)

WATCH: Remembering "Happy Days," "Laverne & Shirley" and Garry Marshall

Producer, director, writer and all-around show business icon Garry Marshall passed away almost four years ago, but on Tuesday night, ABC brought his incredible career, memory and effervescent personality back to life with "The Happy Days of Garry Marshall."

With help of a plethora of star-studded interviews – ranging from Marshall's family to Henry Winkler to Cindy Williams to Michael McKean to Ron Howard to Julia Roberts to Richard Gere to Julie Andrews to Anne Hathaway to Bette Midler and a perplexingly mustachioed Ashton Kutcher – the two-hour special ran through the wildly influential comedy creator, starting all the way back to his days as a sick child writing jokes from his bed in the Bronx.

From those inauspicious beginnings, Marshall would go on to write for iconic TV like "The Dick Van Dyke Show," create some of the most influential and timeless sitcoms of the '70s and '80s, and helm several of the most popular comedies to hit the big screen ("Pretty Woman," "The Princess Diaries," "Overboard"), all the while finding generational talents and giving their legendary careers a start (and giving a certain small Midwestern city a place in then-rare place in the spotlight, too).

His reputation as a skilled eye for talent – including finds like Robin Williams, Henry Winkler and Anne Hathaway – alone would've made him a desired director. But one of the biggest takeaways from all of the interviews and conversations throughout "The Happy Days of Garry Marshall" was how much people just plain enjoyed working with the Hollywood hyphenate. He was a generous director who listened to his performers, pushed them while also giving them room to create and in general made his sets fun – from gentle pranks to full-on parades, all helping to loosen up long work days.

All the while, Marshall was unapologetically making movies for female audiences – movies centering women, for women – in a business that still treats women as a niche audience. And he was making feel-good rom-coms and comedies for the big screen, something that practically doesn't exist anymore as theaters are consumed by big action spectacle and superheroes.

Whether behind the camera or behind the scenes, Marshall was one of the nice ones in Hollywood – and "The Happy Days of Garry Marshall" was a fittingly nice tribute to his work, during a time when we could all use a little nice to balance out the daily news. (And also: It featured Mary Poppins swearing in bloopers from "The Princess Diaries" movies, so that was worth the price of admission alone.) In fact, it was a special so nice that I just had to pour myself a glass – or more – of wine and chat about Marshall's impact on Hollywood, his movies, his TV shows and his general feel-good energy on Facebook Live.

Tune into that video here – and in case you missed the special last night, it's currently available right here on ABC's website to stream. And here's to Garry Marshall – a giant of feel-good entertainment who, even several years after his death, could bring much-needed smiles, light and magic to audiences during dark times.


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