friendship timelines

A Timeline of Carrie Fisher and Penny Marshall’s Enviable Friendship

Photo: Courtesy Marshall Family Collection/Handout

When actress, director, and general multi-hyphenate trailblazer Penny Marshall died earlier this week, one of the trending topics that followed the news was her BFF status with Carrie Fisher — fun quotes they said about each other, some cute photos, you name it. We love it! But despite the very public celebration of their friendship on social media, the women enjoyed spending time together away from life’s flashbulbs and recorders, really only regaling us with their life’s anecdotes through memoirs and rare interviews. “We’ve lasted longer than all of our marriages combined. Our crazy lives have meshed perfectly,” Marshall perhaps put it best in her 2012 memoir. “We’ve always said it’s because we never liked the same drugs or men, but I know there’s more to it.” Here, let’s take an abridged look at the early stages of their pairing, which we promise we won’t refer to as “friendship goals.”

Late 1970s: The women are introduced in Manhattan by Fisher’s then-husband, Paul Simon, and SNL czar Lorne Michaels, who both had a hunch they would “hit it off.” (As Marshall concisely put it, “They were right.”) Their first official hang-sesh revolves around Fisher packing for a trip to the Caribbean, where Marshall “listened to her bitch about whether she was able to keep up with Paul.”

1980: When Fisher was in Chicago shooting The Blues Brothers, she invites Marshall to hang with her on set and in the city for a few days to keep her company. It’s then that they tried acid for the first time — along with John Belushi’s wife, Judy— and Marshall remembers their first “trip” together vividly. “It seemed like the thing to do. We played pool for hours and took pictures of ourselves with a Polaroid camera at a hole-in-the-wall bar,” Marshall wrote in her memoir. “We thought the cops there were extras from the movie and so made no effort to hide our silliness; but they turned out to be real police officers.” When they return to their Ritz-Carlton, still feeling the effects of acid, they proceed to give each other facials and lay on the floor of the hotel’s elevator to “stare up at the pretty Art Deco ceiling.” Eric Idle, of all people, stepped in the elevator and “understood” what was going on.

1981: The infamous, just-elaborate-enough joint birthdays thrown by Marshall and Fisher first begin — they both shared October birthdays — and slowly transforms into one of Hollywood’s hottest events. As a means of keeping these soirees at bay, the duo abide by the same set of rules over the years: They would alternate homes, the lucky invitees would receive phone calls telling them the date and time, and they would jointly decide if other people trying to get in were worthy of attendance. “Most guests were longtime friends like Jack Nicholson, Anjelica Huston, and Robin Williams. New people, like Ben Affleck and Nicole Kidman, were added every year,” Marshall later recalled. “The food was a big draw. Carrie’s housekeeper, Gloria, and her mother’s longtime housekeeper, Mary, made fried chicken, meatloaf, mac and cheese, and other Southern staples. Barbra Streisand wanted to hire them for a party. Carrie wouldn’t let her.” Hell, it was such a hot ticket that one year David Bowie and Iman crashed.

(About 20 years after their inaugural birthday, the duo decide to stop the parties because it became too overwhelming to deal with the mayhem and the planning. “It was too much — and too expensive,” Marshall added. “When you see Shaquille O’Neal and Salman Rushdie waiting for their cars at the end of your driveway, you know things are out of control.”)

1982: Fisher appeared on Marshall’s beloved sitcom, Laverne & Shirley, in an episode that also featured Hugh Hefner. Cute bunny costumes!

Photo: ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images

1983: Marshall describes the “most thrilling” moment of her life as cajoling Simon & Garfunkel — who, at this point, were barely on speaking terms despite occasional public concert reunions — to perform for her and Fisher when the couple found themselves hanging out … thanks to acid. “I guess they couldn’t think of a reason why not or just didn’t want to go into years of slights and bickering in front of Carrie and me,” Marshall wrote in her memoir. “Paul and Artie carefully searched the room for a spot with the best echo, the best sound, and they started to sing.” Looking back, Marshall can’t help but laugh: “Here I was, totally ignorant of one of the most strained partnerships in pop music history, arranging a social date.”

1990: Our gals, ever the private types, step out together for the first time in years for an art benefit auction. They are ready to buy. Look at that checkbook!

Photo: Ron Galella Ltd/WireImage

2003: Even if Fisher didn’t get the sunglasses memo à la Marshall and Tom Petty, the two allow photographers into their realm once again for an AIDS fundraising benefit. Petty looks thrilled.

Photo: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

2004: They star in a movie together! Sure, they don’t share any scenes, and sure, the likelihood of you actually remembering Stateside is slim, but please enjoy this clip of Fisher saying, “Unashamed cheap little slut.”

We warned you this was a short timeline, and the end is here. We can likely thank — or rather, blame — the ladies’ bicoastal lifestyles for the lack of public friendship content post-’80s, given that Fisher was a tried-and-true Los Angeles broad (as was her mom!) and Marshall spent the majority of her later years soaking up those New York City clouds. Still, these parting words must be said, nay, screamed: Name a more iconic duo, we’ll wait!

Carrie Fisher and Penny Marshall’s Friendship: A Timeline