Cynthia Jane "Cindy" Williams (born August 22, 1947) is an American actress best known for starring in the television situation-comedy series Laverne & Shirley, in the role of Shirley Feeney, and for her role as Laurie Henderson in the classic film American Graffiti.

Early life[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Williams was born in Van Nuys, California, to Francesca (née Bellini) and Beachard Williams. She has one sibling, a sister, Carol Ann Williams. She graduated from Birmingham High School. She attended Los Angeles City College. To date she has appeared in 19 films.

Career[edit source | editbeta]Edit

[1][2]The handprints of Williams in front of The Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park

After college, Williams began her professional career by landing national commercials, which included Foster Grant sunglasses and TWA. Her first roles in television, among others, were on Room 222Nanny and the Professor and Love, American Style.

Having honed her skills at The Actors Studio West,[1][2] Williams picked up important film roles early in her career: George Cukor's Travels with My Aunt (1972); as Ron Howard's high school sweetheart in George Lucas's American Graffiti (1973); and Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation (1974). She auditioned for Lucas's next project, Star Wars, but lost the role ofPrincess Leia to Carrie Fisher.[3]

In 1975, Williams was cast as a fun-loving brewery worker, Shirley Feeney, in an episode of Happy Days, alongside Penny Marshall, who played her best friend/roommate Laverne De Fazio. The girls were introduced as female companions of Fonzie (Henry Winkler), and their appearance proved so popular that Garry Marshall, producer of Happy Days and Penny Marshall's brother, commissioned a spin-off for the characters. Williams continued her role on the very successful Laverne & Shirley from 1976 until 1982. Although praised for her portrayal of Shirley, Williams left the show after the second episode of the show's eighth and final season, after she became pregnant with her first child. Williams and co-star Marshall had also been feuding for quite some time, and this had also spurred her decision to leave.[4]

In 1990, Williams returned to series TV in the short-lived CBS sitcom Normal Life, and a couple years later, reunited with former Laverne & Shirley producers Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett to star in their family sitcom Getting By (1993–94). She has guest starred on several television shows, including two episodes of 8 Simple Rules.

She has performed onstage in the national tours of GreaseDeathtrap and Moon Over Buffalo, and a regional production of Nunsense. She reunited with her L&S co-star Eddie Mekka in a November 2008 regional production of the Renée Taylor-Joseph Bologna comedy play It Had to Be You.[5]

Williams made her Broadway debut as daffy "Mrs. Tottendale" in The Drowsy Chaperone at the Marquis Theatre on December 11, 2007, succeeding JoAnne Worley in the role originated by Georgia Engel.[6]

She made a guest appearance on illusionist David Copperfield's first CBS TV special in 1978. She assisted Copperfield in the Zig Zag Girl and a length-wise sawing-in-half illusions.[citation needed]

Williams was co-producer on the successful Steve Martin comedy film Father of the Bride and its sequel.[citation needed]

She starred in the play Weekend Comedy from April 3 to June 16, 2013 at the New Theatre Restaurant, Overland Park, Kansas.

She will reunite with her Laverne & Shirley co-star Penny Marshall in reprising her 'Shirley Feeney' role on a 2013 episode of Sam & Cat.[7][8]

Personal life[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Williams was married to Bill Hudson of the musical trio Hudson Brothers in 1982, but the marriage ended in divorce in 2000. Together they have two children: A daughter, Emily Hudson (born 1982), and son, Zachary Hudson (born 1986). Cindy Williams is a practicing Catholic.[9][10].

In January 2000, an article in the Washington Post critical of military pay raises was written by a Cindy Williams who is a researcher at MIT.[11] It has been frequently improperly attributed to the actress Cindy Williams.[12][13]

Filmography[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Television work[edit source | editbeta]Edit

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