Madison TV personality and restaurant owner Marsh Shapiro died Wednesday morning after a nearly two-year battle with brain cancer, according to a restaurant manager.
Shapiro opened the Nitty Gritty at West Johnson and Frances Streets in 1968, which has become best known for celebrating birthdays. He sold the downtown location in 2010.
Shapiro began his TV career as the host of a children's show on Channel 27 and he later became a sportscaster.
Decades ago, Shapiro was known as "Marshall the Marshall" on the locally produced children's program.
"Thousands of children passed through the doors of Channel 27 in the days of live TV, and, oh, the stories that Marsh could tell of those days," said Bob Miller.
His friends said he will be missed by many in the community.
"He wasn't just a sportscaster, a fan, a family man, or a proprietor of the Nitty Gritty. He was an iconic figure in this community, and I think he'll be remembered for his kindness, his generosity, and all the good things he did for this community," said Terry Murawski.
His friends said Shapiro has left a permanent footprint in Madison.
"We've heard 'Madison icon' a lot -- it just doesn't do him justice. You look at Marsh, he was Madison. He loved Madison. He loved the UW. He loved Badger sports," said Paul Pitas. "It doesn't seem fair when you look at what he's done for the community."
Treatments and surgery for his brain cancer seemed to be working, until Shapiro took a turn earlier this year.
"It was a journey and he fought it hard, the whole way," Murawski said. "He was just a generous, loving person -- a dear friend who I'll miss and we'll all miss."
On Madison Mayor Paul Soglin's Facebook page, he wrote that Marsh was "a wonderful father, husband, friend, citizen, sports fan and human being."
Shapiro was 74 years old. Funeral services are scheduled for Friday.
Watch 2009 video of Marsh Shapiro: