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.
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.
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 222, Nanny and the Professor and Love, American Style.
Having honed her skills at The Actors Studio West, Williams picked up important film roles early in her career: George Cukor's Travels with My Aunt (1972); as Laurie Henderson, 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 of Princess Leia to Carrie Fisher.
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.
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 Grease, Deathtrap 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.
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.
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.
Williams was co-producer on the successful Steve Martin comedy film Father of the Bride and its sequel.
She starred in the play Weekend Comedy from April 3 to June 16, 2013 at the New Theatre Restaurant, Overland Park, Kansas.
She reunited with her Laverne & Shirley co-star Penny Marshall on a November 2013 episode of Sam & Cat.
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.
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. It has been frequently improperly attributed to the actress Cindy Williams.
Drive, He Said (1971),
Beware! The Blob (1972),
Travels with My Aunt (1972),
The Killing Kind (1973),
American Graffiti (1973),
The Conversation (1974),
Mr. Ricco (1975),
The First Nudie Musical (1976),
More American Graffiti (1979),
Sois belle et tais-toi (1981) (documentary),
The Creature Wasn't Nice (1983),
Big Man on Campus (1989),
Rude Awakening (1989),
Meet Wally Sparks (1997),
The Biggest Fan (2002),
The Legend of William Tell (2006),
The Last Guy on Earth (2007),
Strawberry Summer (2012),
The Funny Side (1971) (cancelled after 3 months),
The Migrants (1974),
Hawaii Five-O January 1974, season 6, #18. Secret Witness.,
Laverne & Shirley (cast member from 1976-1982),
Laverne & Shirley in the Army (1981-1982) (voice),
The Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour (1982-1983) (voice),
When Dreams Come True (1985),
Help Wanted: Kids (1986),
The Leftovers (1986),
Save the Dog! (1988),
Tricks of the Trade (1988),
Just Like Family (1989) (cancelled after a few weeks),
Perry Mason: The Case of the Poisoned Pen (1990),
Normal Life (1990) (canceled after 13 episodes),
Steel Magnolias (1990) (unsold pilot),
Menu for Murder (1990),
Earth Angel (1991),
Getting By (1993-1994),
Escape from Terror: The Teresa Stamper Story (1994),
The Magic School Bus (1995) (voice; 1 episode) as Gerri Poveri,
The Stepford Husbands (1996),
Strip Mall (2000-2001),
Laverne & Shirley Together Again (2002),
8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter (2003) as Mary Ellen Doyle,
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (2004) as Nora Hodges,
Sam & Cat (2013)