Pam Dawber on her reunion with Robin Williams 3. Mork & Mindy. Club. During the late ’7. TV viewers found themselves nursing a crush on Pam Dawber, Mindy of the ABC sitcom Mork & Mindy. After the series had run its course and co- star Robin Williams departed the small- screen landscape to begin his slow build to big- screen success, Dawber did a couple of other sitcoms (My Sister Sam and Life. But in the mid- ’9. Hollywood in favor of spending time with her husband, Mark Harmon, and raising their children.
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- During the late ’70s and early ’80s, more than a few TV viewers found themselves nursing a crush on Pam Dawber, Mindy of the ABC sitcom Mork & Mindy.
- Mork & Mindy was a sitcom that ran on ABC from 1978 until 1982. The series starred a relative newcomer Robin Williams as Mork, an alien who came to Earth in a large.
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Until this year, Dawber’s most recent on- screen appearance had been in the 2. I’ll Remember April—which proved to be an appropriate transition into full- time family life, what with Harmon playing her husband—but when the creative team for CBS’ The Crazy Ones approached her with an idea for reuniting her with Williams, she couldn’t resist. Dawber recently talked to The A. V. Club about sharing the screen with Williams again, how she found her way in front of the camera in the first place, and why she’s just fine with her self- imposed TV retirement.
The A. V. Club: CBS was kind enough—or trusting enough—to provide a screener of the episode in advance of the interview. It was pretty great to see you and Robin play off each other again. Pam Dawber: Oh, it was so much fun. I mean, it really was just so much fun. AVC: During the Television Critics Association press tour in January, someone asked Robin if he’d consider having you guest star on The Crazy Ones, and although he admitted that the idea of stunt casting gave him pause, he certainly wasn’t against the idea.
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And by the end of the month—PD: Well, they’ve had Josh Groban guest star, and they’ve had other people come on a little bit as well. Brad Garrett, I don’t think he was on there originally, but now he’s become a semi- regular. But, yes, I was told that there’d sort of been a campaign to get the two of us back together. Also, Bill D’Elia, who’s one of the producers, has been a very close friend of ours for 2. But I hadn’t seen Robin in 2.
I mean, I’ve obviously done it, but that was something I was never really interested in. But just to see Robin and work with him, Bill was directing it, so all these pieces were good. And I liked what they wrote for me. I said, “As long as I’m not just setting up Robin like I did for four years on Mork & Mindy!” . AVC: Tracy Poust, a writer- producer for The Crazy Ones, said they didn’t actually tell Robin they’d even approached you until you’d officially signed on, and that he got a little misty when they told him. PD: Oh, that’s so sweet! It’s a very, very laid- back, easygoing group.
I hadn’t done anything like that in so many years—I hadn’t performed, really—and I was so surprised, actually, that it was like going home. And Robin’s a different guy, you know? We’ve grown up. We’re older than Jonathan Winters was when he came on to Mork & Mindy! But Robin and I. Robin is truly one of the kindest, most caring people I’ve ever met. He cares about all the younger cast members, and I’m so happy they’ve surrounded him with such talented kids.
Robin was never one of those comedians that was competitive and had to have all the funny lines. It was always playtime for him.
He’s just very generous. He’s not going to try to grab somebody else’s line if he likes it better. He’s never been that kind of guy. But it’s different. We’re different, and it’s a different show, and! AVC: You definitely seemed to be having a good time. From the first time we see you, you’re getting to be somewhat more randy than Mork & Mindy fans might remember you.
That was so funny, and I loved that opening. People want Mork and Mindy back together?
Well, they got it! We were just so happy to see each other, because there’s just so much history together. We spent four years together, and those were pretty crazy years. From the late ’7. Robin. I always think of it as being like, “The anchor has come home.” I reminded him of this, but he used to call me Sister Mary St. Because it was crazy in those days!
He’d never done a sitcom, and neither had I. I’d done practically nothing, so I was faking my way to the top! What am I supposed to do?” We were just dear friends, and I think it’s just because he’s a generous spirit and I am, too. We just have a chemistry that works because we really care about each other. I’m going to tell you something that’s so sweet that happened. Since you’ve seen the show, you know there’s a scene in a restaurant where he’s just unraveling. Well, while we were shooting that, playing that together, he kept reaching out, grabbing my hand, saying, “Dawbs, are you okay?
Dawberdog, are you all right?” And I said, “Yeah, Robin, I think we’re getting it. It’s good, you know? We’ve got plenty of time!” “Oh, okay. Are you sure?” Finally, after he did this maybe three times, I realized.
I said, “You feel bad that you’re hurting my feelings in the scene.” He said, “It’s killing me! I can’t stand it!” And I said, “Oh my God, that’s so sweet, but Robin, it’s called ! AVC: Actually, one of the other writer- producers, Jon Kinnally, said, “It was adorable to see how protective Robin was on the set.”PD: Oh my gosh, Yeah, it was just lovely, and I’ll tell you what was one of the most wonderful things about it: My son—who’s 2. I had no idea that she was a Robin Williams fan, because it just seemed that that generation would’ve missed the boat on that, but she had told me a couple of months ago.
And Sean, my son, said to me, “Mom, do you think I’ll ever get to meet Robin Williams?” And I said, “God, I hope I get to meet Robin Williams!” . Dustin Hoffman carried him around on his shoulders while he was dressed as Captain Hook, and he remembers that, but he doesn’t remember Robin. So I said, “You know, I hope so. I really hope so.” So when I got this gig, I said to Sean, “Let me check with Robin—because this is not my show, this is Robin’s show, although I’m sure he’ll be all right with it. I’ll see if we can surprise Chelsea and bring her on. And Robin said, “Of course!” And Sean said, “Okay, I’ve just got to tell her that she’s going somewhere special, because she’ll kill me if she’s not dressed right!”Anyway, they came over to Fox just as I was getting out of a golf cart, all dressed up for my scene, and I said, “So, Chelsea, do you know where you are?” She goes, “I’m, uh, on the Fox lot?” I went, “Yessssss, but do you know where you are or what show this is?” And she goes, “Nooooo. Sean’s been on many sets, but Chelsea had never been on a set like this before, so I got to lead her through all of this wonderfulness.
We get back there, and we walk through the very front set—you know, the elevator with his caricature up there?—and she didn’t see it, but she’s walking toward me, and I said, “Turn around.” She turns and looks and she goes! Now hold yourself together, Chelsea. It was just so comfortable, and it was such a thrill for me to be able to bring them into that. And Chelsea wrote Robin the nicest note.
It was, like, the thrill of her lifetime. She said, “I don’t know why my parents let me watch his HBO specials at such a young age, but they did, and I used to play them over and over again.” She was beyond thrilled.
AVC: I interviewed your husband by phone for our Random Roles feature, and when I met him in person, he said that our conversation—specifically, our discussion of his first TV acting gig—had inspired him to go back and listen to Ozzie Nelson’s music. PD: Oh my gosh, I know.
Mark loved Ozzie. I never met Ozzie—he passed away before I could meet him—but I knew Harriet, which I personally found so bizarre. Yeah, uh, I’d rather hear his stories about his day at work than participate in them. That’s all I have to say! AVC: This may explain why he wouldn’t say much about the idea of you guest- starring on NCIS.
PD: Actually, he did invite me, but it was a bad time. It was right before Christmas, and my dad was coming into town, and I didn’t think it was such a good idea. I thought it was kind of stunt casting. And the gal who did it, I’d actually done a play with, and she was wonderful.
It was the part of a psychiatrist. But, nah, it’s just too close. Yeah, I’ll Remember April. Not that we had any fights, but we certainly had discussions afterwards! AVC: Now that you’ve dipped your toe back into series television with The Crazy Ones, would you consider taking another gig? PD: No, I don’t think so.
I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve been married for 2. If you’re that ambitious for yourself your entire life, something’s gotta give. I really enjoyed letting it go and raising the boys. When you think about it, Mark’s either been doing Chicago Hope or movies or now NCIS. My God, he was still in his 4. If you want a career at 5. I wasn’t a dyed- in- the- wool actress.
I kind of jumped on every opportunity train that pulled up to my door, and it happened for me through serendipity and luck. Not that I didn’t try to prepare myself, but I never went out saying, “I have to be an actress!” I thought I was going to be a commercial artist.
But my life took me to New York, just doing what I loved to do, which was singing, and then these other doors opened. So I feel like I’ve done everything you can do in this business, I understand it. I mean, we had nannies.
Because I was still doing TV movies when there were still TV movies to do, but that was, like, once or maybe twice a year, and the kids would come on location, and it was fine. But, really, once they were in elementary school, I thought life would be easier, because they’d be going to school early, coming home at 3 or 4 o’clock. So I put my toe in and did this CBS show .
They had a deal with Rick Reynolds, who was a comedian, and so I thought, “Oh, sitcoms are easy!” . So I was coming home at that time, and my husband certainly wasn’t happy about it. I had my tap shoes on for everybody. The kids didn’t really care, I don’t think, but.
It just wasn’t good, and I was praying that the show didn’t get picked up. It went six episodes, but then it died. And then I thought, “I’m done!