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Why the late Cindy Williams of 'Laverne & Shirley' holds a special place in Milwaukee's heart

Cindy Williams' character in 'Laverne & Shirley' lived on Milwaukee's east side during the 1950s.
Emmys Marshall Williams
Posted at 10:29 PM, Jan 30, 2023

MILWAUKEE — Cindy Williams, best known for playing Shirley Feeney in the sitcom "Laverne & Shirley", passed away at the age of 75, her family announced Monday.

Williams' role on the iconic show is well known to the City of Milwaukee. Her character, Shirley, and co-star Penny Marshall's character Laverne, fictitiously lived on Milwaukee's east side and worked at the Shotz Brewery in the 1950s for several seasons. It ran on ABC from 1976 to 1983. The show about the best friends and roommates was a spin-off of "Happy Days," which also took place in Milwaukee. According to our partners at OnMilwaukee, Williams visited Milwaukee in 2008 for the unveiling of the Bronze Fonz statue.

Over at Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, the Laverne & Shirley theme song "remains an elemental part" of their tour experience.

"She (Williams) and Penny Marshall, who played Laverne and passed in 2018, hold a special place in our hearts. The bottling line at the fictitious Shotz Brewery they worked at was part of the Schlitz bottling line which we actually used to bottle Lakefront after Schlitz went under," Lakefront Brewery shared on Facebook on Monday. "Thanks for playing a huge role in framing and reinforcing Milwaukee's whimsical culture. Cheers, Cindy! We'll keep doing it our way."

In 2020, Badger Bus hosted a "Laverne & Shirley's Milwaukee" tour that took people to several stops made famous in the show. One of the stops was at the Lakefront Brewery. It also took you bowling, out for custard, and included a stop at the Milwaukee City Hall (the opening shot of the sitcom).

The Milwaukee County Historical Society says its collections hold the original Milwaukee City Hall letters that are also in the show's introduction. The historical society says on Tuesday the letters will spell out "Cindy" on the east side of the Society building beginning at 4 p.m.

According to the Associated Press, Williams died in Los Angeles after a brief illness.

"The passing of our kind, hilarious mother, Cindy Williams, has brought us insurmountable sadness that could never truly be expressed," a statement by her children Zak and Emily Hudson said. “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.”

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