‘Mork & Mindy’: The Show’s Setting Was Chosen Completely At Random

Mork was Robin Williams’ breakout role. The TV showMork and Mindy, featured Williams as an alien named Mork from the fictional planet Ork.

The role was perfect for the young comedian, who had a chance to show off his physical comedy skills. Mork wasn’t used to living on Earth. He didn’t know about any Earth customs, and the opportunity to explore our world as Mork was comedy gold in Williams’ hands.

His acting was so random that there was a rumor that the writers didn’t actually write anything for Williams. Some people believed that the script would just have blank spaces for Williams to improvise as Mork.

That probably wasn’t exactly true, but a lot of the show was completely random. 

‘Mork and Mindy’ had no pilot 

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The show Mork and Mindy was invented on the fly. Williams appeared as Mork in an episode of Happy Days, and he was so great that fans clamored for him to have his own show. Producers agreed, and rushed to get a project together. That means they didn’t actually film a pilot for Mork and Mindy. Instead, they took clips of Williams as Mork from Happy Days, and added in footage of Pam Dawber, who would play Mindy

Dawber had a contract with ABC, but they hadn’t found a show for her yet. She did film a pilot for a show called Sister Terri, but it went nowhere. Since the network was already paying Dawber, they were excited to find a project for her. Producers cut footage from Sister Terri and spliced it together with footage of Mork to prove that they would be a dynamic duo. It worked. 

The setting for ‘Mork and Mindy’ was chosen at random 

Conrad Janis, Robin Williams, Pam Dawber
Conrad Janis, Robin Williams, Pam Dawber | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Everything surrounding the show Mork and Mindy happened in a hurry. That means producer Garry Marshall didn’t have a lot of time to consider where Mork would live. His original Happy Days appearance took place in Milwaukee, but Marshall apparently didn’t want to keep Mork in the same city as his other show. 

According to Mental Floss, Marshall happened to have a niece studying in Boulder, Colorado, so he decided to claim that as the setting for Mork and Mindy in the hackneyed pilot. The setting would prove to be a good choice. It’s still known for being the home of Mork and Mindy today. When Williams died in 2014, fans placed flowers and other offerings on the fence of the house where Mork and Mindy was set. 

Robin Williams learned ‘Mork and Mindy’ was cancelled from Variety 

Mork and Mindy was such a rush that actors apparently didn’t know when they were hired or fired. Dawber didn’t know she had been hired after her Sister Terri pilot was used to sell the show to ABC.

Similarly, Williams didn’t realize when he had been fired, thanks to the show being canceled. According to Dawber, her agent saw the news about the show in the popular entertainment periodical, Variety. Dawber had never heard of the show, and apparently, her own agent hadn’t either. Since there was no pilot, she didn’t even know what Mork and Mindy was about. Dawber says she even asked her agent, “And who in the hell is Robin Williams?”

William apparently also found out big news about the show thanks to Variety. After four seasons, Mork and Mindy was canceled. Writers had an idea for a fifth season. It would put a more educational spin on the comedy, having Mork and Mindy go back in time to meet historical figures. But it was a no-go for the network.

According to Williams, he read about the cancellation in Variety.