‘Happy Days’: Son of Show Producer’s Love for ‘Star Wars’ Led to Robin Williams as ‘Mork’

by Keeli Parkey
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When Mork from Ork made his first appearance on “Happy Days” audiences fell in love. The character, who was played by Robin Williams, was such a hit with audiences that he soon had his own show.

But, have you ever wondered why an alien appeared on “Happy Days”? If you really think about it, that’s an odd decision for a television show set during the 1950s in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to make.

According to an article on Parade.com, Garry Marshall’s son, Scott, was a huge fan of “Star Wars,” which was released in 1977. Scott wanted his father to make an alien the main character in a television show. Garry Marshall was the creator and a producer on “Happy Days.”

In addition to the influence from his son, the creative forces behind “Happy Days” were also influenced by a popular episode of “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” according to the article.

Called “It May Look Like a Walnut,” this episode finds Van Dyke’s character Petrie being visited by aliens at work and at home.

Directing this episode was Jerry Paris, who went on to be a director on Marshall’s show. The alien idea stuck with Paris and he wanted to bring that to his new show. Combine that with Scott’s “Star Wars” fandom and television history was made.

Once the decision was made to put an alien on the show. A story was developed and Williams was cast. According to Parade.com, Roger Rees and Dom DeLuise were also considered for the role of Mork from Ork. But in the end, the role went to Robin Williams.

Williams was suggested for the part thanks to his stand-up. An associate producer on “Happy Days” reportedly saw him do a bit as an alien. The producer thought he would be good for the role on the show. Turns out, he was right.

According to the article, it was evident from Williams’ audition for “Happy Days” that playing an alien was right in his wheelhouse. When asked by Marshall to sit down, the actor put his head in the seat of the chair and his legs up in the air. He got the job.

In the first Mork episode on “Happy Days” the alien comes to take a human to Ork with him. This human had to be fairly boring, so Mork chose Richie Cunningham. However, Fonzie breaks up the plot. In the end, the Mork plotline was said to be a dream.

Mork from Ork became so popular with fans that he was given his own show. Called “Mork & Mindy,” the show debuted in September 1978, according to the article. Starring alongside Williams as Mindy was Pam Dawber.

This, according to the article, changed the ending of the first Mork episode of “Happy Days.” The part where Mork’s appearance was said to be a dream was cut when the episode aired in reruns, according to Parade.

Outsider.com