‘NCIS’: Mark Harmon’s Wife Pam Dawber Receives Sad News of Former Colleague’s Death

by Taylor Cunningham
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 07: Actor Mark Harmon arrives with wife Pam Dawber at TV Guide magazine's Annual Hot List Party at Greystone Mansion Supperclub on November 7, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

Mark Harmon’s wife, Pam Dawber, faced some hard news this week when she learned that her friend and co-creator of Mork & Mindy, Dale McRaven, passed away.

McRaven died at his home in Los Angeles on September 5 following complications from lung cancer, according to his son, David McRaven. He was 83.

The Emmy-nominated writer and producer was famous for several projects, including The Dick Van Dyke Show and Perfect Strangers. But Mork & Mindy, which he created with Garry Marshall, was perhaps his most successful.

The classic TV show was a spinoff born from a short cameo in Marshall’s Happy Days. In a 1977 installment, Richie Cunningham had a visit from an alien named Mork who hailed from the planet Ork. The martian, played by Robin Williams, wanted to subject Richie to some quick scientific tests, but Richie declined.

The character, who came from the mind of Garry Marshall’s nine-year-old son, was such a hit that he earned his own series. In it, Williams continued to play the quirky, curious alien and Dawber played his roommate turned love interest, Mindy.

Mark Harmon’s Wife Almost Didn’t Get the Chance to Star in ‘Mork & Mindy’

Mork & Mindy didn’t pan out to be quite as successful as Happy Days, but it’s still remembered as one of the most beloved series in history. McRaven earned his one and only Emmy nomination in 1979 for writing the scripts. And the show spent four years on primetime television.

Mark Harmon’s wife appeared in all but one of the 95 episodes that aired from 1978 to 1982. And thanks to McRaven, she and Williams became stars.

Interestingly, Mork & Mindy didn’t have much support during its inception. When Garry Marshall presented the idea to his Happy Days writers, they scoffed. To them, the idea was too off the wall. But Marshall promised his son that Mork would visit the Cunningham house, so he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

“We looked at each other like, ‘God, that’s the most horrible idea I’ve ever heard,’” writer Brian Levant told Gizmodo. “We drew straws to see who drew the short straw and had to write the script.”

The creator only gave his team two days to get the job done, too, which caused some major headaches. Not only did it make perfecting the character nearly impossible, but they couldn’t land someone to play the part. Three actors, including Roger Rees and Dom DeLuise, turned down the role because they also thought it was outrageous.

But luckily, Robin Williams was happy to give it a shot. And the day he read the lines, the crew knew that they had just discovered a future legend.

“They called us down for the most amazing run-through in the world,” Levant remembered. “We saw one guy who embodied all three Marx Brothers, Chaplin, the Three Stooges, and William F. Buckley in the same body.” 

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