ISSUE DATE: Mar. 12, 1979
Five months ago he was what Hollywood likes to call a complete nobody. A struggling comic, he had passed virtually unnoticed through improvisational clubs and two flop TV series (the revived Laugh-In, the Richard Pryor Show). Then, last fall, ABC unveiled its new offerings for the 1978-79 season. Robin Williams, 26, was given the lead in Mork & Mindy, a spacy sitcom, and he became what the moguls love to call an overnight star. For once the Hollywood hyperbole is actually appropriate; Mork & Mindy is often at the top of the charts and is seen by an average of 60 million viewers each week. To be the star of TV’s No. 1 hit is to be the most highly visible show-biz personality in the country.
Mork & Mindy seems an unlikely bet for such exaltation: the program is fundamentally a retread of such tired sitcoms as My Favorite Martian and Bewitched. It tells the story of Mork (Williams), an alien eggplanted, so to speak, from the planet Ork, who settles in Boulder, Colo., with a winsome ingenue, Mindy (Pam Dawber). The secret of the program’s runaway success is Williams. He is not only an inspired clown but also a perfect entertainer for TV’s mass audience. Mork has the innocence and enthusiasm of a toddler discovering the world. But he is one toddler who can talk. Artless, gullible, endearing, he lets the audience in on every transparent thought that whirls through his head. His rambling is wildly unpredictable, in part because Mork talks not only to himself but to three or four parts of himself—and they talk back.
Read the full story here
Next Warren Beatty