‘Mr. Belvedere’s Ilene Graff Recalls Working Alongside Robin Williams, Rodney Dangerfield

by Chris Piner

No matter the film or role, comedian Robin Williams knew exactly how to deliver a line and more importantly, light up an entire room. Throughout his career, the actor solidified himself as more than another Hollywood act as he is considered to be one of the greatest comedians of all time. While performing comedy routines in Los Angeles and San Francisco during the 70s, Williams’ opportunity came when cast as an alien called Mork. First appearing in Happy Days, the character landed the star of his own ABC show Mork & Mindy. The rest is somewhat of a whirlwind as Williams garnered an Academy Award for Good Will Hunting. Not to mention five Grammy Awards. And although he passed away 8 years ago, celebrities like Ilene Graff still remember the time she spent with him.

While Ilene Graff is most notably known for Mr. Belvedere, she made a brief appearance in Mork & Mindy. The series received glowing reviews as it showcased both Robin Williams and Pam Dawber. Sadly, the hit series ended only after four seasons, but the fanbase continues to this day as Mork’s rainbow suspenders are somewhat iconic. 

Speaking with Closer Weekly about her time with Robin Williams on set, Ilene Graff recalled the true talent of the comedian. “There was a two-parter that I was on with Jonathan Winters. The table read was like being in the Comedy Store. Robin Williams and Jonathan couldn’t stop [improvising], and one line would be funnier than the next. It was just remarkable.” 

Ilene Graff Worked With Another Great Comedian

As for her time on screen with Robin Williams, Illene Graff admitted, “Robin was also really, really nice. And a good acting partner. He was Julliard trained, so when the director said action, his eyes, mind and brain were with you. He was so creative. He never did anything the same way twice.”

Having the chance to star alongside comedians like Robin Williams and Rodney Dangerfield came with a great deal of luck according to Illene Graff. “In the late 1970s, I fit the mold of what they were looking for. My timing was right. I was cute and funny. And then I got older, and they were looking for young moms. It was just dumb luck and timing. I have friends that are so talented but nobody has any idea who they are because of luck. Their timing was off.”

In 1992, Ilene Graff worked with Rodney Dangerfield in the film Ladybugs. Again, she deemed him a spectacle to watch work. “Rodney was an original. In his heart, he was a writer. We would be doing a scene, and they wouldn’t be happy with the joke. So they would say, ‘Rodney, we need a better joke here.’ Within seconds, he’d have 10 or 15 new jokes. I was just in awe.”

Looking past her career in Hollywood, Ilene Graff noted her life as a mother and wife consists of some of the fondest memories of all.