Filming ‘Mork & Mindy,’ Robin Williams Was At His Wildest Between Takes


Mork & Mindy was a recipe for nonstop comedic moments thanks to its zany premise and a wild performance by Robin Williams. But, according to series co-creator Garry Marshall, the camera didn’t even capture all of the mayhem because Williams was just as wild – if not more so – in between filming scenes.

Mork & Mindy was a surprise offshoot of Happy Days, when the otherwise grounded characters met the alien Mork from Ork. For Marshall it was another footnote in his impressive and growing resume. For Williams, it put him under the national spotlight – but it turns out viewers only saw half of his antics.


Robin Williams went wild for the audience even when ‘Mork & Mindy’ wasn’t filming a scene

MORK & MINDY, Robin Williams, 1978-1982. (c) Paramount Television/ Courtesy: Everett Collection

The Boulder-based show was filmed in California in front of a live studio audience. This meant the audience could see the sets and enjoy some material before the main show even started filming in earnest. This essentially gave actors like Williams free reign, because moments like this existed in this in-between space where network censors didn’t have dominion – especially since the show was supposed to be accessible to children and had to keep a G rating.


RELATED: Robin Williams Was Not The First Choice And A Big Risk For ‘Mork & Mindy’

“Robin knew we would protect him, so he felt free enough to push his own limits and those of the network censors,” Marshall explained. Very often the preshow live audience warm-up was funnier than the script because Robin could be more irreverent and use bad language, which can be very funny in the right hands.” Not all of his actions were limited to verbal jokes, though, and some of his actions took very suggestive physical turns. What did his co-star think about this?

From ‘Mork & Mindy’ to ‘Aladdin,’ Robin Williams always improvised

He always tried to get a reaction out of Pam Dawber / Everett Collection

Williams often showed the full range of his creative thinking when allowed to improvise. Just about every word said over the radio in Good Morning, Vietnam was his idea, for instance, and he was formative in bringing Genie to life. When working on Mork & Mindy, this saw Williams play off of the serious composure of his co-star, Pam Dawber, who played Mindy McConnell. She effectively acted as the proper “straight man” to his off-the-wall acts. In doing so, he made sure Dawber every day had to try and not break character and show some mirth. “He would always try to make Pam Dawber laugh,” Marshall revealed. “Sometimes he would even walk out, offstage and then come back naked. He used any means he could to shock Pam and make her mouth literally fall open.”

Mork & Mindy / TV Guide/courtesy Everett Collection

Some of those antics, Dawber admits, would raise many eyebrows, as she shared, “If you put it on paper you would be appalled. But somehow he had this guileless little thing that he would do – those sparkly eyes. He’d look at you, really playful, like a puppy, all of a sudden. And then he’d grab your t—ts and then run away.” In short, things could get invasive, and it would be understandable if Dawber felt uncomfortable or upset. However, she added that she “never took offense. I mean I was flashed, humped, bumped, grabbed. I think he probably did it to a lot of people… but it was so much fun.”

Williams as Mork from Ork / (c) Paramount Television/ Courtesy: Everett Collection

RELATED: Robin Williams’ Children Pay Tribute To Their Dad On The 8th Anniversary Of His Death

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