“Mork” and “Mindy” are together again.
Robin Williams’ return to sitcom work on CBS’ “The Crazy Ones” may have prompted some to wonder when his “Mork & Mindy” co-star, Pam Dawber, might do a guest spot. She claims she wasn’t among them, but in Thursday’s (April 10) episode, she reunites with her partner from the 1978-82 ABC sitcom about an alien and the earthling who befriended him.
Playing a love interest who enters ad man Simon’s (Williams) life just before he develops doubts about romance, the friendly Dawber tells Zap2it, “When they came to me about this, I thought, ‘The business has changed so much.’ And I hadn’t seen Robin in so many years.
“Bill D’Elia, who is one of the producers, is an incredibly close friend. Our families used to have Thanksgivings and Christmases together, and when he called, I said, ‘I don’t know, Bill. If you give me something to do, I’ll do it.’ I just didn’t want to stand around saying lines like, ‘Oh, Simon, what are you doing?,’ but I had no idea it was going to be news.”
Experiencing the famously manic Williams again proved to be news for Dawber herself: “I had not seen him in so long, he was like a distant memory … and I felt really bad about that. I love Robin on a very deep level. He and are just connected, and little did I know that those ‘Mork & Mindy’ diehards are still out there, so here I am!”
Dawber has been out of the limelight for years, leaving that to her husband, “NCIS” star Mark Harmon, while she raised their two sons. She says that once she was on the “Crazy Ones” set — her episode also features Brad Garrett and magician David Copperfield as guests — “I was really surprised at myself. It was like slipping on a wonderful old shoe, just to be with Robin in that situation.
“I was very happy with what they wrote for us. If people want to see Mork and Mindy back together, they’re gonna see that, but it won’t be ‘Mork & Mindy’ by any means. It’s only three scenes. Mine is one of several stories, but it’s the first time Robin and I have been together on television in more than 30 years.”
Williams is still “Robin in the way I’ve always known him,” Dawber says, “but he immediately started talking to me about Jonathan Winters [who played Mork and Mindy’s child, Mearth] and how he’d seen Jonathan just a few weeks before he died.
“They’d stayed in touch and been friends all those years, and I said, ‘Do you realize, Robin, that we’re probably six years older than Jonathan was when he came on our show?’ Robin said, ‘Wow.’ And I said, ‘Yeah. And I remember thinking he was an old dude!'”
For Dawber, the “big difference” in Williams is he “isn’t darting around the room now, and we can stand and have a conversation. We’re not in our 20s, and I can appreciate him on a whole other level. We’ve both experienced great deals of life, and I couldn’t delve deeply into things with him because I was only there for three days, but it was fascinating for me. Life has just mellowed both of us out.”
While not being nearly as active in TV, Dawber has kept up with the business through her spouse, who also has been an “NCIS” producer through much of its run.
“I’ve always understood the TV business,” she says, “even when we watched them ruin ‘Mork & Mindy,’ back when they decided to fire much of a five-person cast, put it in a different time slot and change the format — and then cancel us after four years, rather than go for that fifth year and syndication, where everybody would have made more money.
“You realize it’s a business,” she adds. “I’ve always said that finding a successful pathway in it is 70 percent luck, and the rest is having the brains to keep the ball rolling for yourself. I’ve said to Mark, ‘I finally realize what your title is on your show. You are the Chairman of Ego Patrol.’ Because he’s the hub of that show, and he cares so much about people, he makes sure that no one is more important than anyone else.”
Whether Dawber’s “Crazy Ones” stint leads her to resume acting more steadily is uncertain. “Maybe if the right thing came my way,” she reflects. For now, she says it was “just wonderful fun” to work with Williams again.
“I think it’s cute, and they kind of cracked the door open for a possible return. I’ve kept my marriage going for 27 years because I married the right guy and a decent human, first of all, but I just don’t believe you can have two people chasing show business and have it work. I like being home when my husband comes home.”
“The Crazy Ones” airs at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT Thursday on CBS.