Robin Williams Reflected on What ‘Mork & Mindy’ Fans Remembered the Most

by Allison Hambrick
BURBANK, CA - OCTOBER 14: Comedian/actor Robin Williams appears on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" at the NBC Studios on October 14, 2004 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Robin Williams

Comedy icon Robin Williams revealed what Mork & Mindy fans seemed to remember the most about the show years after its end.

“it’s still in people’s consciousness,” Williams said on an episode of Pioneers of Television. “It struck a chord because it was so out of left field in that way. The first year was crazy fun. I think because it was so out of the ordinary. Even though it was, you know, silly, and people remember the silliest stuff. ‘What’s your favorite planet? Pluto. Why? Because it’s a Mickey Mouse planet,’ and I was like ‘why does that joke work?'”

Additionally, Williams explained that most fans latched onto specific jokes. Because the series often had him in silly situations, that’s what fans took with them.

“People would remember the thing about ‘fly be free,’ where I’d take eggs and throw them up and they’d crash,” Williams continued. “The idea that it had this weird kind of silliness, but underneath it sometimes there’d be other… we eventually had to have a censor who spoke Spanish, three or four different languages because I was sneaking things in different languages. They went ‘she knows what that means.’ I was using… sometimes Mork would speak yiddish.”

For Williams, that’s what made Mork & Mindy fun. He explained: “The idea that, you know, we would try different things, and it was just kind of to see what we could get under the radar. We had a great director named Howard Storm, who was a comic himself, and he just let us go crazy.”

Robin Williams Talks Creating Mork & Mindy

According to Williams, the show only existed because Paramount and ABC had an unfulfilled contract. They tapped Williams to reprise a character he had played on Happy Days. The producers hastily put the show together.

Mork & Mindy, the idea that my character comes to Earth,” explained Williams. “Then they find Pam. Pam had done a show about playing a nun in a high school and so basically an alien and a nun–could happen. An Irishman walks out of a bar. It might happen you never know.”

“It was a commitment to go on air with no pilot, just boom,” added Williams. “Obviously, there were all these, you know, pre-articles like ‘yeah, right, an alien, right. We need another My Favorite Martian.’ So it was like we are coming out of the blue weirdly. Like what’ll we do? The wonderful news is, she’s really sweet and really funny in her own right. I could just go off the wall and do strange things. Because I’m an alien, it’s okay. They put together the standard TV show.”

Ultimately, the show was a hit for its first few seasons. It aired from 1978 to 1982. Though it only lasted for four seasons, the series stayed reasonably popular. Williams said that he often had fans recognize him for the show, even thirty years later.

“The weird thing is, it came at a time when people are going ‘what’s this,’” said Williams. “We got lucky, and then it became this thing of every Thursday night, people going… they wanted to see how crazy it would be. Even after winning an Academy Award, people for like a week [went] ‘Hey, Good Will Hunting, way to go.’ Two weeks later, ‘hey Mork!’”