Mork from Ork was born of Happy Days creator Garry Marshall’s Star Wars-obsessed 8-year-old son inquiring why a space alien couldn’t visit Richie Cunningham & Co. Per Marshall’s memoir Wake Me When It’s Funny, Williams’ turn in that first Happy Days visit earned him a standing ovation from the studio audience of 300.
When Mork & Mindy debuted in 1978, Williams made $35,000 per episode; at its peak, the comedy drew 60 million weekly viewers. (Perspective Check: He earned 1/100th of a cent per viewer, while the Big Bang leads now net 5 cents per viewer.)
It was Mork & Mindy and meta when in a Season 3 episode, Mork met his troubled-by-fame stand-up comic doppelgänger, Robin Williams. (Watch episode here.)
Sitcom star and scribe Mindy Kaling was named after Mork’s Mindy.
A huge Star Trek fan, Williams was in line to guest-star on The Next Generation as Berlinghoff Rasmussen, but had to bow out to play Peter Pan in Hook. (Matt “Max Headroom” Frewer ended up filling the role.)
Other roles Williams reportedly brushed up against include Batman Forever’s The Riddler (which went to Jim Carrey), Philadelphia lawyer Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), Little Miss Sunshine‘s suicidal gay uncle (Steve Carrell) and Taxi‘s Bobby Wheeler (Jeff Conaway).
Williams was also a Fringe fanatic, telling TVLine in 2012 that to guest-star on the Fox drama “would be amazing.”
In his senior year at Redwood High School in California, Williams was voted both “Funniest” and “Least Likely to Succeed.”
After meeting at Julliard, Williams and big screen Superman Christopher Reeve stayed lifelong friends. Following Reeve’s horseback riding accident, Williams stormed his pal’s hospital room dressed as his manic Nine Months doc, rarin’ to perform a proctology exam. “For the first time since the accident, I laughed,” Reeve wrote of the incident. “My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be OK."
Williams and Disney had a falling out after promotional materials for Aladdin ran afoul, the actor believed, of the deal he had struck to voice the Genie. (Williams had worked for scale — just $75,000 — provided that his name/image was not used for marketing/promotions and that the Genie did not dominate posters.)
Speaking of Aladdin: The box office and critical hit was reportedly denied an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay because Williams famously ad-libbed much of it.
At the 2000 Academy Awards, Williams led the singing of Best Song nominee “Blame Canada,” from the South Park movie (watch video) — filling in for voice actress Mary Kay Bergman, who had committed suicide months earlier.
When asked by Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton what he’d like to hear God say upon his arriving in Heaven, Williams answered: “There’s seating near the front… The [Mozart/Elvis Presley] concert begins at 5.” (Watch video)