Michael Henry was the first husband of actress and director Penny Marshall. She passed away on Monday, December 17, 2018, at the age of 75. The cause of death was attributed to complications from diabetes.
Marshall and Henry met as college students. He is also the biological father of her daughter, Tracy Reiner. Marshall’s second husband, actor Rob Reiner, adopted Tracy and raised her as his own daughter.
Michael Henry died in 2009 in Phoenix at the age of 65.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Penny Marshall & Michael Henry Got Married in 1963 After Becoming Pregnant With Their Daughter, Tracy
A quick online search of Penny Marshall’s first husband alleges that they were married from 1961 until 1963. But that does not appear to be accurate. Marshall wrote an editorial about her life for Newsweek in 2012 that focuses on her first marriage and her daughter.
Marshall wrote that she and Michael Henry, who she called Mickey, tied the knot in November of 1963. She said they got married “the weekend John F. Kennedy got shot. All that was on the TV during our honeymoon in a motel was the funeral, which set the tone.” She was 19 and he was 18.
The couple was already pregnant with daughter Tracy at the time. Marshall shared that Henry proposed after learning she was pregnant. Tracy was born on July 7, 1964. Marshall described her husband as a “doll” who “would get up in the middle of the night and mornings with her, and then go to school.”
The marriage did not last long. According to a 1980 article in People, Marshall and Henry were married less than three years.
2. Michael Henry Grew Up in Albuquerque & Played Football at the University of New Mexico
Michael Henry and Penny Marshall were college sweethearts at the University of New Mexico. He played defensive end on the football team. Lifelong friend George Boyden explained that Henry “wasn’t the greatest football player because he was too damned nice. He was a big teddy bear.”
He passed away in 2009 at age 65. According to his obituary in the Albuquerque Journal, Henry was born in Denver. But he spent most his childhood in New Mexico.
He graduated from Highland High School in Albuquerque before earning an athletic scholarship to college. Henry later earned a master’s degree in special education.
He spent the majority of his life in Phoenix; according to an obituary, he and his family lived in Phoenix for nearly 30 years.
3. Michael Henry Remarried in 1983 & Had Another Daughter
Penny Marshall wrote in her Newsweek piece that Michael Henry moved to Colorado after their divorce. According to his obituary, he met his second wife, Sherry, through his work with the Special Olympics. They got married in 1983 and lived in Phoenix.
Sherry described Henry at the time of his passing as the type of person who attracted attention. “He was like a pied piper. People just gravitated towards him. He was handsome and he had tremendous charisma. He had an enormous amount of character and integrity. … There was no pretense about him.”
The couple had a daughter named Heather. When Henry died in 2009, his first daughter Tracy and her children Spencer, Bella, and Viva were all listed as surviving family members.
4. Michael Henry Served as Executive Director of the Special Olympics in New Mexico
Michael Henry has been remembered for his love of children. Friend George Boyden shared that Henry thought “seeing a little kid smile was the most important thing there ever was, especially a little kid who was challenged physically, mentally.”
Henry served as the executive director of the Special Olympics New Mexico. He was working in that position in 1980, according to a People article from that year, but his obituary did not mention how long he remained with the Special Olympics.
Henry’s professional career also included working for schools. He served as director of ITT Educational Services for a time. Later on, he worked for a medical training school and the Southwest College of Naturopathic Physicians.
5. Michael Myron Henry Was Described as a “Renaissance Man” Who Was Always Willing to Lend a Hand
The family of Michael Myron Henry penned a separate obituary that was published by the Arizona Republic in 2009. He was described as “the renaissance man who has given so much to us, in so many ways; who was always ready for us when we needed something, if only to say, ‘I thought I’d like to chat with you and now we can’t. We love you and miss you beyond words.”
The family shared that Henry had loved to ski, cooked a delicious green chile stew and taught his children how to swim.
The Albuquerque Journal obituary stated that at the time of his death, Henry had been involved in developing a sports complex in Phoenix.
That piece also stated that he was passionate about “his family, his daughters, his dogs and college football. And he loved enchiladas, along with good beer.”