Marjorie Ward Marshall Dance Center

Marjorie Ward Marshall

Marjorie Ward Marshall. Courtesy of Northwestern University Archives.

Marjorie Ward Marshall, “a 5-foot-6-inch slacks-wearing perky blonde with a dancer’s body and a comedian’s mouth,” ran a tap dance school in the basement of her Bronx apartment building, recalls her son, famed actor, director, writer and producer Garry Marshall (J56).

“My mother … was the first director I ever met,” Marshall wrote in his recent memoir, My Happy Days in Hollywood (Crown Archetype, 2012). “Even from a young age she was an entertainer who thought performing was not just a hobby or even a profession but a way of living that was as essential as breathing or eating. … I will never stop carrying on my mother’s message, and I will never stop missing her.”

As a tribute to his mother (1908–83), Garry Marshall and family donated $1 million to the University in 1983 to name a building in her honor.

“Whenever I visit the building it helps remind me that to entertain people and make them laugh is what my own career has been all about,” Marshall wrote in the May 2012 Reader’s Digest.

The Marjorie Ward Marshall Dance Center houses two dance studios that are used for productions and classes. It is part of the Theatre and Interpretation Center.

Stories by Stephanie Haines (WCAS15), Margaux Pepper (C14) and Danny Moran (J13).

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Ever wonder about those strange designations we use throughout Northwestern to identify alumni of the various schools of the University? See the complete list.