Movies - TV
Mork & Mindy's
Creators Picked Robin Williams Up Off The Street
It’s hard to imagine any actor but Robin Williams playing the alien Mork in “Mork & Mindy,” but he wasn’t the first choice. The comedian was an unknown street performer before he auditioned for Mork, a character who first appeared on “Happy Days,” and several actors were floated for the part before agent Alan Lezman “begged” creator Garry Marshall to give Williams a chance.
Marshall says he couldn’t believe that Lezman, and Marshall’s casting director sister Ronny Hallin, expected him to “build a major network sitcom around a man who passes the hat for tips.” Hallin retorted to her brother, “It's a very full hat,“ and eventually, Marshall came around to the idea, unable to deny that Williams had something special.
In his memoir, “My Happy Days in Hollywood,” Marshall recalled, “I walked into my office and the street performer was sitting on my couch upside-down on his head. When he saw me, he stood straight up, and started pretending to drink a glass of water with his finger. That is how I first met Robin Williams. Ronny was right. Lezman was right.”
There were still doubts about whether Williams could carry an entire sitcom, but Marshall knew that “He would be the hip, modern, and zany centerpiece of the show, and we would surround him with calm, talented actors whom he could riff off of.” In Mork's first appearance on “Happy Days,” Williams captivated audiences, and “Mork & Mindy” later became a classic.