Robin Williams has left his mark on this world as a figure of life, energy, and happiness. While we mostly know him from his zany movie roles, we often overlook the time he truly did come from another planet!
The hit show Mork & Mindy was a short-lived sitcom that has spawned a ton of cultural references that everyone repeats, but not many people seem to know the origin of.
If you’re looking to learn exactly where those rainbow suspenders came from, or if you remember watching this when it was still on TV, buckle up, because we’re crash-landing this list of facts right onto your screen! Nanu-Nanu!
While most people are aware that the show was originally from an episode of Happy Days, very few know that the premise was actually taken from an episode of The Dyck Van Dyke show.
There was one episode that focused on an alien named Danny who dropped in on the cast with no idea what was going on. The director would later work on Happy Days and decided to revive the hilarious trope!
Who’s That Now?
Before the studio settled on the then-unknown comedian Robin Williams, they considered a long line of possible actors.
Some of those included Dom Deluise, Roger Rees, and even Richard Lewis, but they either dropped out, or in Lewis’s case, felt that Williams was better suited for the role.
Be The Alien
So how did this random comedian land his first break-out gig? Simple, he became the role. In typical Williams style, he walked into the audition, and when offered a seat, immediately flipped himself over onto his head and “sat” on the chair! This won the casting crew over and he was given the job, launching his career.
Pam Dawber, or Mindy, was filming the pilot for a separate show when auditions for Mork & Mindy were taking place, but that didn’t stop the studio from landing her.
The show she was working on, Sister Terri, ultimately failed, but luckily she was picked up as the supporting character for Williams.
She recalls finding out about her new role by reading Variety saying, “I hadn’t auditioned, I hadn’t met, and I knew nothing and who in the hell is Robin Williams?”
You might be familiar with other roles that Williams has portrayed over the years, and you may know that he had a habit of ad-libbing his most iconic lines. As a comedian, his witty takes were legendary, however, this wasn’t the case for Mork & Mindy.
Even though he was quick enough to come up with jokes, in this role he only read his lines that he was given from the script. I guess he was saving the best for later!
Sticks & Stones
Colorado turned out to be the perfect place to set the show, but even though it seems like a good decision on the part of the writers, the location was actually completely random.
In fact, when it came down to it, the only reason they went with Boulder was because the shows creator had a niece that went to school there!
A Face For Voice Acting
We never did get to see Orson, the superior officer to Mork, did we? Maybe not, but you’ve definitely heard him before!
Orsen’s voice was provided by Ralph James, who lent his talents to Looney Tunes, Pink Panther, but his most famous role was as Mr. Turtle in the Tootsie Roll Pops commercial!
Chew on that now, will yah!
They What Now?!
It’s hard enough to find out that you have been let go from your job with two weeks notice, but at least you hear it in person.
This wasn’t the case for Williams, who – even as the star – had to find out that the show had been cancelled by reading it in Variety. Yep, the same publication that Dawber found out she got the role from!
Fan of other sci-fi shows? You may have noticed that the retired Mork costume was given a cameo in Star Trek: The Original Series in 1969. This isn’t surprising, since Paramount studios produced both of the shows!
Empty Your Pockets
When the writers were able to get William Shatner onto the show, they were determiend to make the famous actor’s time on set as enjoyable as possible. But they were thrown for a curve-ball when the Star Trek star asked to paid not in cash, but in clothes!
Shatner said he would only do the one episode plug for a $2,500 suit, and guess what. The studio said yes!
The executive producer, Brian Levant remembers well, saying “That’s what we paid him. We couldn’t put him in an Enterprise uniform, so we put him in a bathrobe, holding a bottle of champagne.”