Throwback Tuesday: Mork & Mindy Was Robin Williams' 1st Big Break
By Vittorio Hernandez | August 12, 2014 12:29 PM EST
"Na-nu, na-nu," were the famous words that then 27-year-old actor Robin Williams uttered as the newly launched lead actor of the YV sitcom Mork & Mindy in 1978. The show, which aired until 1982, featured Williams as Mork, the alien from the planet Ork who initially came into Earth as a dog, but eventually appeared as a human.
Mork actually came out first in episode 5 of the TV series Happy Days, titled My Favorite Orkan, which impressed the producers that his appearance led to the spin-off TV series Mork & Mindy, where he co-starred with actress Pam Dawber. In Happy Days, the alien Mork showed up in Milwaukee in the 1950s, but for Mork & Mindy, it was set in present-day Boulder, Colorado.
He arrived on Earth in an egg-shaped spacecraft to observe human behaviour. His Earth journey was actually to remove him from Ork, where humour was not allowed. The show's storyline often focused on his attempt to understand human behaviour as well as the American culture, with Mindy as his guide to help the alien adjust to Earth life.
On its first season, Mork & Mindy placed third on Nielsen ratings, after Laverne & Shirley and Three's Company. One of the sitcom's episodes, Mork's Mixed Emotions, ranked 94th on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time list.
From Mork & Mindy, Williams moved on to other HBO comedies such as Off the Wall in 1978, An Evening with Robin Williams in 1982 and Robin Williams: Live at the Met in 1986.
He also had a string of successful movies such as as Good Morning Vietnam in 1987, Dead Poets Society in 1989
Mrs Doubtfire in 1993, Jumanji in 1995, the Birdcage in 1996, Patch Adams in 1998 and Happy Feet in 2006.
Mork & Mindy's ratings started to decline by the third season, but ABC agreed to a fourth season with changes, leading to the marriage of Mork and Mindy, and the birth of their child Mearth. It was Mork who laid an egg that grew and hatched into the older Mearth, played by Jonathan Winters.
When the show was axed after four seasons and 95 episodes, it placed 60th.
On Tuesday, Willliams, 63, was found dead in his California home, an apparent suicide probably due to asphyxia. According to a statement from the Marin County Sheriff's office, it received an emergency call on Aug 11 at about 11:55 am to report that an adult male was found unconscious and not breathing inside his house.
His wife, Susan Schneider, requested for privacy and expressed hope the focus would not be on Robin's demise but the "countless moments of Joy and laughter he gave to millions."
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