Before there was ALF, there was Mork. And while you might have been too young to catch Mork & Mindy when it originally aired (from 1978 till 1982), you’ve probably heard it referenced plenty of times. The show was actually a spin-off of Happy Days, based solely on an episode where Mork tried convincing young Richie Cunningham to travel back to his planet of Ork as a human specimen. Since the character was so popular, they decided to give him his own show.
The show, which took place in Boulder, Colorado, focuses on Mork trying to figure out Earth while trusting his newfound friend Mindy, who knows of his past.
Mork was actually the first big role that Robin Williams ever played. Think of what might have changed, had it not been a success! Could you live in a world without Patch Adams?! I couldn’t.
So – Where’s the cast today?
Robin Williams as Mork
In order for me to properly list what Robin has been up to since the show, I’d have to nearly list his entire filmography. See, Robin was doing stand-up when he was recruited for the role on Happy Days, and life was never the same since. While he did appear on The Richard Pryor Show and Laugh-In, Mork helped him break into film roles, like the war drama-comedy Good Morning, Vietnam. He also had a breakthrough with 1989’s Dead Poet’s Society, and Awakenings that following year.
Robin has also been known to dabble in some vocal work. If you were a ’90s kid, you might remember him playing Batty Koda in the film Fern Gully.
And of course, he was the Genie in Aladdin. (But just the first and the third. After some contract disagreements based on merchandising, Dan Castellaneta was brought in for the sequel.)
The early ’90s also brought him good luck with Toys, and the legendary classic Mrs. Doubtfire. In 1995, you might have seen him in Jumanji, or The Birdcage which was released the following year.
During the late ’90s, Robin found roles in Flubber, Good Will Hunting, and Bicentennial Man.
Most recently, he’s played himself on an episode of Louie, appeared in an episode of the FX show Wilfred, and played Dwight D. Eisenhower in the film Lee Daniels’ The Butler. He’s currently starring in the CBS show The Crazy Ones, alongside Sarah Michelle Gellar. Not bad.
Pam Dawber as Mindy McConnell
Mork’s better half actually got her start in the entertainment industry as a model for Wilhelmina Models – and she actually landed the part as Mindy without an audition, or much experience. If it was only that easy for everyone, right?
After the show was cancelled, she starred in a few TV movies and also appeared in an episode of The Twilight Zone in 1985. Her next big role was in 1986, playing Sam Russell in the TV series My Sister Sam. In 1992, she had the lead role alongside John Ritter in the film Stay Tuned (sidenote: Does anyone else but me remember that film?) before trying her luck at another television series, called Life… and Stuff which unfortunately only lasted for 3 episodes.
If you watched the animated series of 101 Dalmatians in the late ’90s, you probably heard Pam providing the voice of Perdy. Her last credit was 14 years ago, playing Barbara Cooper in the drama I’ll Remember April. Rumor has it that she might reunite with Robin in an episode of The Crazy Ones that’ll air this year.
Pam took a break from acting to raise a family with her husband, fellow actor Mark Harmon. The two married in 1987, and have two sons together.
Conrad Janis as Frederick McConnell
Conrad played Mindy’s father Fred, who wasn’t too happy with his daughter living with another man. Fred had a musical background, owning a music shop with his mother-in-law Cora in season 1, and working as an orchestra constructor later on. The role didn’t stray too far away from Conrad’s real past, as he’s a jazz musician.
Conrad has worked steadily since the end of the show, notably playing three (yes – three!) different roles in episodes of Murder, She Wrote. Don’t forget about his brief role in the 1996 film The Cable Guy, as well as three episodes of Frasier. In 2005, he appeared as himself in a few episodes of TV Land’s Top Ten, where he weighed in on the best of TV weddings and spin-off shows. In 2009, he was in the thriller film Maneater, which starred Dean Cain, and in 2012 he played Lawrence in Bad Blood… the Hunger, which he also directed and produced. More impressively, he took on those dual roles well into his ’80s. Conrad doesn’t stop, man.
Elizabeth Kerr as Cora Hudson
Cora proved that age didn’t necessarily have to signify what your worldly views were. Cora was the perfect example of a progressive woman, and Elizabeth made an excellent addition to the cast. (Even though her role in the show was shortened after season 1.)
While Elizabeth was in a lot of television shows, most of them were for just an episode or two. She appeared in Punky Brewster, The Facts of Life, and Mr. Belvedere before her final film role as an elderly customer in the 1991 film Frankie and Johnny. Elizabeth passed away on January 13, 2000 in California.
Ralph James as Orson
Okay, so – Ralph was never seen. Just heard. Mork reported weekly to Orson to explain what was happening back at Earth. He also reprised his role as the voice of Orson in the animated series, Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour in 1982.
Ralph was known primarily for his vocal work, which also included Dr. Doom in the 1980s Spiderman cartoon, as well as voices for The Jetsons in 1985. Born in 1924, he sadly passed away in 1992.
Robert Donner as Exidor
What a role to play. Exidor was the leader of an invisible cult called ‘The Friends of Venus’, on all four seasons of the show. While he believes Mork is an alien, nobody believes him – possibly because he’s wearing a white robe and talking to his invisible friends most of the time. Sure, he might have something wrong with his brain, but the audience couldn’t get enough of the guy.
In 1995 he played Mayor Chamberlain Brown on the TV series Legend, and appeared as Lucius Snow on the show Early Edition. He passed away in 2006, at the age of 75.
Tom Poston as Franklin Delano Bickley
While Tom was featured more during the start of the series, his role as Mindy’s downstairs neighbor was essential. After all, who hasn’t dealt with an annoying neighbor before? It was almost a crucial role for a TV sitcom airing between the late ’70s and mid ’90s!
Tom had an amazing career before his passing in 2007. Starting in 1982, he played George Utley in Newhart, and started the ’90s by playing the role of Ringo Prowley on the TV series Good Grief. (Another role he had in 1990? He voiced the Capital City Goofball in the legendary Simpsons episode “Dancin’ Homer”) Fans of Family Matters might recognize him as Mr. Looney, the school janitor.
Tom also occasionally appeared as Dr. Art Hibke on the show Coach, as well as Old Man Swenson on Murphy Brown. The late ’90s brought some pretty steady work on Grace Under Fire, where he played Floyd Norton.
In the early 2000s, he appeared on a few episodes of ER and also made appearances on That 70’s Show. His last roles were of Clown on the show Committed, and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, where he played a character named Merle on an episode that aired in 2006.
What were your favorite moments from Mork & Mindy? Were you upset when the show re-tooled itself midway through? Are you bummed that I didn’t include the adult baby-child that appeared when Mork and Mindy got romantic? Do you still – to this day – use the Orkan goodbye greeting of “Na-Nu Na-Nu”? (It’s okay if you do. It’s safe for you to admit it here.) Let’s chat in the comments!
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