One Of Mork & Mindy's Strangest Episodes Was A Window Into The Mind Of Robin Williams

It's no secret that great comedy often comes from pain, and as much as his fans would have liked it to be otherwise, Robin Williams' comedic genius seems to be no exception. The late comedian and Academy Award-winning actor lit up the screen in the '90s in iconic films like "Mrs. Doubtfire" before moving on to more serious movies like "Good Will Hunting" and "What Dreams May Come."

Williams was one of those rare comedians who could slip in and out of funny man characters effortlessly and make audiences feel real, true, and deep emotions in dramatic roles. After entering the public consciousness as a stand-up comedian, he spent decades in the film industry, proving himself to be as talented as any other A-list thespian in Hollywood. Unfortunately, along with accolades and pats on the back, Williams also had to deal with the isolation that comes with fame. Predictably, Williams decided to share his pain in a creative way and acted it out in front of the world in a strange "Mork & Mindy" episode.

Mork & Mindy & Robin

After some time as a stand-up comedian, Williams got his big break into television portraying Mork from Ork in "Happy Days." The weirdo extraterrestrial was such a hit on the popular show that Williams got his own spin-off show, "Mork & Mindy." In a typical episode, Mork would study a random aspect of humanity and report back to his boss, Orson, with what he learned. Usually, the show relied heavily on William's unique humor and silliness, and the formula made Williams a television superstar. However, one episode in the show's third season took a serious turn.

According to Dave Itzkoff in his autobiography, Robin, the episode titled "Mork Meets Robin Williams," took a break from goofy antics to focus on real life. In the episode, Williams still played Mork, but also portrayed himself, which allowed audiences a glimpse into the pitfalls of celebrity.

Williams spends the entire episode stalked by fans, and Mork is frequently mistaken for the TV star, which is a tongue-in-cheek way of criticizing fans' tendencies to equate actors with their characters. Mork doesn't understand why humanity is so obsessed with celebrities and attempts to understand why they put such a huge importance on it by talking with Robin Williams.

When Mork finally gets the chance to speak with Williams, he explains that comedy helped him through a lonely childhood where his dad's job forced him to move around a lot. He reveals that the characters he made up made him feel freer than he ever was in his real life. He admits, "It got to the point where I realized that the characters could say and do things that I was afraid to do myself." Williams also reveals he feels smothered by fame, unable to say no to others, and no longer liberated by comedy.

Victims of fame

Most of the time, "Mork & Mindy" episodes end with Mork sharing his humorous observations about humanity with Orson, but "Mork Meets Robin Williams" chose not to fall back on humor. Instead, Mork's time with Robin Williams had taught him a valuable and tragic lesson, which is not to assume that fame or money equals happiness.

In his ending conversation with Orson, Mork struggles to explain Williams' loneliness and isolation:

"When you're a celebrity, everybody wants a piece of you, sir. Unless you can say no, there'll be no pieces left for yourself. To get that, you have to pay a very heavy price. You have responsibilities, anxieties, and to be honest, sir, some of them can't take it."

Orson can't understand why a superstar like Williams would be so depressed because he's preoccupied with the fact that the actor is rich and famous. Orson dismisses Mork with, "I'm not buying it, Mork. It sounds to me like they have it made."

With teary eyes, Mork acknowledges that there are perks to fame, but also points out that the pressures of being a celebrity have led to the deaths of very talented people like "Elvis Presley. Marilyn Monroe. Janis Joplin. Jimi Hendrix. Lenny Bruce. Freddie Prinze. And John Lennon."

Instead of laughs, the episode ends in somber silence and a fade to black.

'I couldn't spark'

Prior to his passing, Robin Williams was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a brain disease that can cause tremors, stiffness, and affect speech. Williams was devastated by the diagnosis and his mental health deteriorated quickly. After his death from suicide, an autopsy revealed that he was suffering from Lewy body disease, which has similar symptoms to Parkinson's.

Robin Williams, known for his comedic genius and quick humor, couldn't stand the idea of losing these talents. In Marina Zenovich's 2018 HBO documentary about Williams, Come Inside My Mind, Williams talks about his biggest fear. He said, "I guess I fear my consciousness becoming, not just dull, but a rock. I couldn't spark." Luckily for fans, there are countless films of Williams' unforgettable spark, but I can't help but suspect his talents led to his depression and tragic death. You have to wonder if he was actually afraid of losing his spark or if he was truly concerned about being unable to spark for others.