Penny Marshall wanted to make us laugh and cry. Mission accomplished.

I can still hear Penny Marshall's voice echoing from my childhood.

"Aw, come on, Shirl!" I must have been seven or eight when my older brother and I laughed ourselves silly over episodes of Laverne and Shirley. As the hilarious Laverne Defazio, Penny Marshall's Bronx accent and outgoing personality offered me a window to a world outside of my Pacific Northwest upbringing—and I loved her for it. She was raw. She was real. And she was funny.

The consensus from people who knew Penny Marshall in real life is that she was kind and smart and a natural comedienne. Her ex-husband Rob Reiner wrote on Twitter, "She was born with a funnybone and the instinct of how to use it." Clearly.


She was a trailblazer, becoming the first female director to gross $100 million at the box office.

I feel like the somewhat simple character of Laverne did not adequately prepare the world for the behind-the-scenes powerhouse Penny Marshall would become. (I was a kid blurring the lines between actor and character, what can I say.) But her work in the traditionally male-dominated directing world is where she shone in the latter half of her life.

Her directorial debut, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" starring Whoopi Goldberg, was pretty entertaining as I recall. But her next film, "Big" starring the beloved Tom Hanks, knocked it out of the park. Funny and touching, the film hit all the right notes, as evidenced by its record-breaking box office success and iconic scenes that are now staples in pop culture.

"A League of Their Own" is still one of my favorite movies of all time. A film is a product of hundreds of people of course, but there's a reason directors get the kudos. Marshall was brilliant behind the camera, tapping into both our hearts and our funnybones, creating that perfect balance of emotions that makes you want to watch her movies over and over and over again.

She said, "I want you to laugh and cry. That's what I do." Mission accomplished.

Her comedic beginnings often make us think of humor when we think of Penny Marshall, but she was equally adept at tapping our tears. Did you see "Awakenings"? Oof. Like most good comedians, Marshall had a bead on the range of human emotion and it showed in her work. She was a genius at making us laugh and making us cry.

The news of her passing has brought a deluge of praise from those who knew her and worked with her. Check out this initial parade of celebrity tributes on Twitter, starting with her ex-husband, Rob Reiner.

Rest in peace, Penny. Thanks for the laughter and the tears.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less