Robin Williams learned that “Mork & Mindy” was canceled from a magazine article
In 1978, Mork & Mindy, a spin-off of the popular series, Happy Days, debuted on ABC and lasted until 1982. It quickly became one of the best sitcoms of its time. Robin Williams brought Mork, the curious alien, to life and created an unlikely success. The first season garnered high marks and kicked off the hitherto unknown stand-up comedian’s stellar career. Williams’ energetic and creative performance even won him the Golden Globe in 1979.
Williams made his first television appearance as Mork in season five of Happy Days, arriving at the Cunningham Residence in an egg-shaped spaceship. He asks Fonzie, played by Henry Winkler, why men date women. A hilarious performance ensues as Fonzie plays the matchmaker and Mork disastrously attempts to woo Laverne, played by Penny Marshall.
“Mork & Mindy” tells the story of a roommate from space
The show takes place in Boulder Colorado, where Mindy, a journalism student played by Pam Dawber, meets and befriends Mork, who has returned to Earth in his space egg to study Earthlings. Mork is childish, naive and spontaneous. Mindy takes him under her wing and agrees to keep his identity a secret. Much to the dismay of his family, the two become roommates. With Mindy’s help, Mork learns to navigate the unknown territory of human relationships, emotions and customs. At the end of each episode, Mork’s reports to his boss, Orson, are as insightful and touching as they are entertaining.
Williams finds out show is canceled by magazine
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In the competitive world of television, fortunes and careers turn on the water. Amid ambitious plans and commercials for a fifth season, the show was suddenly canceled, catching its stars completely off guard.
Williams has been described as “devastated”. “I found out that the show was canceled while reading it on Variety,” according to Express. “In Hollywood, it’s like reading your own obituary: ‘You’re dead, good luck!'”
Interestingly, Dawber didn’t know she had been cast for the role of Mindy until she read it in the same post. “I didn’t audition, I didn’t meet and I didn’t know anything,” Dawber said, according to Mental Floss. “I remember saying, ‘And who the hell is Robin Williams?'”
Why was “Mork & Mindy” canceled?
Gizmodo reports that in season two, the show was moved from its Thursday night to Sunday night time slot, competing for viewership with All in the family. On top of that, the writers and producers believed Williams shouldn’t have to carry the show alone and changed the supporting cast. At this point, Williams was questioning the childish naivety of his character.
“What he would say, especially in the second season, was, ‘You know, the first year is naive. In second year, it’s stupid. But our response to that was, “You might be right, but if Mork learns about sex, there’s no show. If Mork knows what Earth looks like, we’ve got nothing. Then it’s just that you’re goofy, and there’s no context for that, ”series writer David Misch said.
The odds plummeted as the series plunged into madness anyway. The end of season four left the couple trapped in prehistoric times thanks to a pair of magical shoes, leading to the new premise of season five. The new season would be semi-educational, like a history lesson in time in which the couple use the shoes to flee an assassin determined to kill Mork while meeting historical figures along the way.
Fortunately, season five never materialized. After many unsuccessful attempts to relaunch the show and facing dismal ratings, the executives cut their losses. The three-part season four finale was revamped to close, ending with a report from Mork to Orson about his happy marriage.
Mork took us on a brief, crazy ride, but Williams left us with plenty of other great performances, even reuniting with Dawber in 2014 on his sitcom, Crazypeople.