Robin Williams’ spent a lot of time performing stand-up comedy sets in the early days of his career. The draw of his comedy for many was his incredible improvisational skills, constantly offering spur-of-the-moment humor. However, his career truly skyrocketed once he landed a “Happy Days” spinoff, “Mork & Mindy.”
Mork was introduced to “Happy Days” fans in an episode that didn’t initially make a lot of sense for the series. The episode featured an alien, inspired by the popularity of the “Star Wars” franchise in the 70s. The show struggled to find an actor fit for the role before someone suggested Robin Williams. At the time, Williams was a street performer, and there was hesitation all around about airing the episode in the first place– let alone casting someone with no on-screen experience.
However, the network eventually gave the green light for the episode and for Williams. It was Williams’ quirks that allowed him to shine. Being cast as an alien, there was plenty of room for the actor to act as weird as he wished. Luckily for Williams, that was his specialty, and the weirder he acted, the more the audience loved it. Garry Marshall, who wrote the episode told People, “At the end of the episode, 300 people in the audience stood up and applauded, which is not usually done. It didn’t take a genius to know he could do his own show.”
After the episode bode over so well, the “Mork & Mindy” spinoff was born, featuring Williams as the star.
Robin Williams Opened Up About His Time On ‘Mork & Mindy’
The Chicago-born comedian passed away in 2014. However, “Pioneers of Television” recently uploaded a full-length interview with the late star, where he opens up about his time on “Mork & Mindy”, and how the show changed his life. Robin Williams opened up about the fact that he had no idea a role like that was coming his way. “I had no idea what my progression would be, I was just doing it. I was just getting gigs, trying to work. It was literally like, ‘What’s the next job?’,” Williams remembered.
He later added, “I had no idea that I would ever even get a series. It was luck, it was like winning the lottery. So, the idea that I went down there to get a series [is wrong.] No, I had no idea. I was just doing standup as this thing of it paid the bills, and it allowed me to work. There was no acting work….at that time for me so it was like… Okay, this works, let’s do it.”
When the show hit the air, Williams was surprised at how well the series was initially received.
“When the series hit it was like ‘Wow, it’s serious. Okay, let’s keep going.,’” the actor recalls. The star met with one network executive who told him he was “the funniest man I’ve seen since Jack Carter.” Williams recalls responding, “Thank you, somewhat,” and notes how bizarre the comment was with a laugh.
The series came to an abrupt close after 4 seasons, but the effect it had on Williams’ career was astronomical. He went on to star in several movies and TV shows, all thanks to that one incredible “Happy Days” performance and everything it led to.