Barbara Marshall: Behind every great man there’s a great woman

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I want to talk about Barbara Marshall, the remarkable and much loved wife of Garry Marshall. No words of condolence can be sufficient for the immeasurable loss of a guy like Garry. But we can celebrate the life he led with the perfect woman he had as his partner.

I knew Garry a little when he was a writer on the Dick Van Dyke Show. And I became friends with Barbara when her daughter Lori was in the same class as my son John at the Oakwood School. We were room mothers together and enjoyed the personal kind of friendship that parents make through field trips, festivals, performances and graduations.

…I became friends with Barbara (Marshall) when her daughter Lori was in the same class as my son John at the Oakwood School.

Over the years, it was obvious that Barbara and Garry became key supporters of Oakwood to sustain the quality of education. It also was obvious that Garry Marshall, whose career grew during these happy days, was a softie. He attended every event and took endless pictures…even with happy tears in his eyes. He inhaled all the gold dust available with overwhelming parental pride.

Truthfully, my then husband wasn’t that thrilled with attending school events. And when I insisted, it ticked him off to see Garry loving it so much. And that capacity to love is evident in the joyful quality family life that has Barbara Marshall at the helm.

Nursing was Barbara’s vocation when she met and married Garry. She had a cheerful gang of nurse pals and I was lucky enough to get to know some of them, like the irrepressible Barbara Hauptman—a nurse/caterer and a real mensch-ette—who created ski slopes of salmon dip and floral veggie bouquets.

As Garry’s career blossomed, so did their family, with Lori’s sister Kathleen and brother Scotty. So, the Marshalls were looking for a new house. I was needing to leave my house at that time, due to my changing world. I thought this house deserved a wonderful family to thrive in it like the Marshalls!

I didn’t have the nerve to be pushy about my house. I told Barbara that the house next door might be just perfect for them. It had a spacious lot and many rooms, but when she came over to peek over the fence and out of windows, she kept saying, “but I like your house.” I told her it didn’t have enough bedrooms for her kids, and blah blah, but she said they could add on. And luckily, she really liked my house. And they live there still.

I can’t talk in the past tense about Garry; he’s too much of a presence. We recently sat together eating fancy chocolate desserts after the launching of the Television Academy’s new Saban Theatre. And in the star-studded and sophisticated program, Garry couldn’t resist fooling around and giving good laughter to the happening.

Barbara and Garry were people who did the right thing. As their means increased, their philanthropy helped change the face of the cultural and medical opportunities in Los Angeles. So many landmarks have their name on the walls, in gratitude for their support, like the Free Clinic—-such a significant place they had Barbara aboard with her talent. So giving! And, when Actors and Others for Animals started, they signed on as Honorary Board members and continue to lend support.

Let’s mention the cultural support in Toluca Lake; The Falcon Theatre is a family dream come true. I’m remembering the groundbreaking and all the Marshalls with shovels. Garry gave a little speech, where he clearly explained that there would be a stage so actors can act on it, and there would be seats so an audience could watch the actors acting on the stage.  And so it came to pass, that this perfect little theatre is now the go-to place for first-rate theatre in Los Angeles. Kathleen Marshall is the chief of the Falcon and has made her family proud. It’s a legacy for all of us to enjoy.

Barbara, besides her good works, and being an Anglophile, and playing parts in Garry’s movies, is now very busy being a grandmother. Lucky grandchildren! Superb children. Great woman.

And we’ll talk…

Jackie Joseph is a writer and actress best known for her TV roles as Alan Brady’s niece Jackie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” the voice of Melody in the animated “Josie and the Pussycats” and as Jackie Parker on “The Doris Day Show.”

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