In 1978, ABC introduced viewers to Mork & Mindy, an extraterrestrial who becomes roommates with a female human on Earth. The sitcom ran for four seasons and was a hit, but there are some behind-the-scenes facts fans might not know.
From the Dick Van Dyke Show inspiration to Pam Dawber not realizing she landed the role of Mindy, these Mork & Mindy facts are out of this world.
Pam Dawber Didn’t Know About The Sitcom
Back in the ’70s, Pam Dawber had a development deal with ABC. The deal had ABC keeping the actress under contract until they found a project for her.
The premise of Mork & Mindy sold right away, and Dawber had no clue it was even a thing until an article came out in Variety.
The Show Can Only Be Streamed on Paramount+
The sitcom Mork & Mindy was a very successful show throughout the 70s and 80s. That being said, the series isn’t available on just any streaming platform (sorry, Netflix subscribers!).
The only streaming service whose catalog offers Mork & Mindy is Paramount+ since Paramount Television was one of the companies that helped produce the series.
Mork Was Supposed To Be Played By Other Actors
Before Robin Williams took up the role of Mork in Mork & Mindy, the character was played by two other actors. During the character’s first on-screen appearance in Happy Days, he was supposed to be played by two different people, actors Dom DeLuise and Roger Rees.
They both backed out of the project, and Williams landed the role.
An Extraterrestrial Connection To Happy Days
Actor-director Jerry Paris created the character Mork and introduced him on the season five episode of Happy Days, “My Favorite Orkan.” In the episode, Mork attempts to bring Richie back to his home planet but his kidnapping scheme is foiled by The Fonze.
In the end, Mork is nothing more than an alien in Richie’s dream.
Pam Dawber Had No Idea Who Robin Williams Was
When actress Pam Dawber learned of Mork & Mindy, she had no clue what the show was even about. Not only that, but the Mindy actress had no idea who in the world Robin Williams was!
During an interview, Dawber recalls saying, “And who in the [world] is Robin Williams?'”
Garry Marshall Knew Robin Williams Was THE Alien
Robin Williams took acting classes with executive producer Garry Marshall’s sister, Penny. Asking him to come in to audition for the role of Mork, Marshall knew right away he was perfect for the character.
During an interview, Marshall said, “It was immediately obvious that he was exactly right for the role: anarchic and a little bit crazy, you could easily believe he was actually an alien.”
There Was No Pilot Episode
When ABC presented Mork & Mindy, it wasn’t a normal pilot episode presentation. Producers spliced together scenes from Pam Dawber’s unsuccessful show Sister Terri and Robin Williams’s guest appearance as Mork on Happy Days.
Even though the pilot wasn’t actually a pilot of the sitcom, the network loved the idea.
Mork’s Red Jumpsuit Is From Star Trek
Mork’s iconic red jumpsuit that he wears in Mork & Mindy is actually from another popular tv series. During the Star Trek episode “The Savage Curtain,” Colonel Green can be seen wearing the jumpsuit.
For Mork & Mindy, the costume designers left the silver pipping around the collar and sleeves but added the silver, upsidedown triangle to the outfit.
Inspired By An Episode Of The Dick Van Dyke Show
When director Jerry Paris created the character Mork, it was thanks to an episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show, “It May Look Like a Walnut.” In the episode, the character of Rob Petrie has a dream that walnut-eating aliens are invading the Earth!
The episode was very successful and inspired Paris to create the character, Mork.
Boulder, Colorado, Was A Spur-Of-The-Moment Decision
Executive producer Garry Marshall didn’t really have a set location in mind when it came to Mork & Mindy. In fact, Boulder, Colorado, was a spur-of-the-moment decision that kind of popped into his head.
At the time, Marshall’s niece was attending school at the University of Colorado Boulder. The city popped into his head while writing the plot, and it stuck.
Robin Williams Lines Weren’t Ad-Libbed
Many reports were released during the show’s run stating that many of Robin Williams’s Mork lines were ad-libbed on the spot, with the writing team putting “Robin Does his thing” on the script. As it turns out, this is not true.
During an interview, writer David Misch said, “We’re up until four in the morning writing Robin’s as libs.” The sarcasm was definitely real.
A New Time Slot Lost Viewers
For three seasons, Mork & Mindy were a hit series for ABC. Sadly, when the fourth season rolled around, viewership was steadily declining. It didn’t help that the network executives opted to chance the series’ timeslot.
ABC moved the show to Sunday night, a direct conflict with CBS’s 60 Minutes. Many people believe the time change and drop in popularity brought on the show’s cancelation.
Censorship Issues Happened
While Mork & Mindy is a family-friendly sitcom by today’s standards, it could get a bit touchy back in the 70s and 80s. Due to censorship issues, one line in the series actually had to be changed.
The line was “I’m pregnant,” but the writers were asked to change it to “I’m having a baby” because the former implies fooling around while the other is cute and adorable.
The Season Five Pitch Was “Educational”
Even though the network didn’t move forward with the sitcom, a fifth season was pitched. In it, they took the magic time-traveling shoes from the fourth season and made the series “educational.”
The season five pitch had Mork and Mindy time-traveling and running from an alien assassin and meeting historical figures, such as Abraham Lincoln. The premise didn’t interest the network.
The House Is A Popular Landmark
While the show was filmed in California in front of a studio audience, shots of a Boulder, Colorado, home were often seen to set the scene. This home is actually located on 1619 Pine Street in Boulder and is a popular tourist destination!
The 3,818-square-foot house was last sold in the 1970s when it was purchased for $80,000! As of 2021, Zillow estimates the mansion’s worth to be a little over $2 million.
Mork & Mindy Became Animated
Even though the sitcom was canceled in 1982, Mork & Mindy lived on in animated form. That year, ABC ran an hour-long cartoon special called the Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour.
The cartoon showcased fan-favorite sitcom characters in animated form. The Saturday morning cartoon was very short-lived, only lasting one season before being canceled.
Williams And Dawber Came Back Together In 2014
The sitcom Mork & Mindy wasn’t the last time actors Robin Williams and Pam Dawber worked together. While it took years, the two came back together in 2014 to work on the sitcom The Crazy Ones.
According to Dawber, working with Williams was “like slipping into an old shoe.” A statement to which the comedian said, a shoe that “fits somewhat more loosely.”
They Wanted To Capitalize Off Star Wars‘ Success
Mork was the creation of Jerry Paris. But he wouldn’t have been a thought in the Happy Days director’s eye if not for his son saying something along the lines of, “why can’t there be a spaceman on Happy Days?”
Paris thought it was a great idea, as Star Wars had just been released, and they could capitalize off its success, adding an alien into the mix.
Robin Williams Found Out About The Cancelation In A Magazine
The sitcom Mork & Mindy had a steady decline in popularity when the fourth season came around. Instead of learning the network wasn’t moving forward with the fifth season, Robin Williams learned the show was canceled from Variety magazine.
During an interview, Williams said, “I found out the show was canceled by reading it in Variety.”
Orson Is Voiced By A Well-Known Voice Actor
Orson is Mork’s boss, the alien he contacts at the end of each episode of Mork & Mindy. The voice of Orson was actually done by voice actor Ralph Jones, a man who had voiced a few well-known characters.
Some of his credits include Mr. Turtle from the Tootsie Pop commercials, Pink Panther cartoon shorts, and various voices in the Looney Tunes.