Thursday, March 13, 2014

Question for the Week of Mar 10-16: Actor's Biography

What is the dumbest or funniest actor's biography you've ever seen?
Do you ever go to used book shops? I recently had the pleasure to be in a massive used book store in a small town. Their catalogue and prices were impressive... As I wandered the aisles, I wound up spending some extra time in the Humor and Film/TV sections.

For a variety of reasons, I was drawn to their surprisingly-good selection of works. There were biographies on Tarantino and Truffaut, the novelization of Mel Brooks' High Anxiety... And then, sitting atop a box full of books, I spotted one of the funniest sights I have ever seen:

Right? Is that image not delicious? The Robin Williams Scrapbook, by Mary Ellen Moore, came out in 1979 - only 2 years after Williams started working in TV! It's a big deal when you're getting books written about you so soon, isn't it?

First, Robin Williams appeared in 1977 on NBC's The Richard Pryor Show, which only lasted 4 episodes. But Robin quickly moved on to a much more high-profile role: he played the alien Mork, who appeared in the 5th season of the hyper-popular program, Happy Days. HD's fifth season (1977-1978) was the #2 show on the air at that time.

It is an impressive achievement, to leave Julliard in '76, to get on a major series the following year, and then have your own show the year after that. I could mock Ms. Moore for choosing a fad subject, but time bore her out: Williams is still working today, he has four Oscar nominations - with a win for Good Will Hunting - two SAG awards, two Emmy awards, and more than a handful of Golden Globes.

Mork was so well-received by audiences - for premiering in a dream sequence episode, no less - that the following year (1978), Mork was already spun off into his own show, Mork & Mindy. As you might guess from the cover of this biography, M&M was a huge hit - it was the #3 show in its first season, ahead even of its progenitor, Happy Days. No wonder that book was written!

Mork & Mindy would run for 4 seasons, until 1982. That's pretty decent, considering the insane/silly/absurd premise. And, clearly, Mr. Williams' star was riding quite high at the time. No matter what, though, the blurb on the back cover will be a source of laughter for me in the years to come.

Just please click the image and read that paragraph, and then tell me whether it's supposed to be a biography of Mork, the fictional TV alien, or Robin Williams, the TV actor who portrayed Mork. I only ask because whoever wrote it didn't seem to understand the difference.

In fact, I almost wanted to buy The Robin Williams Scrapbook because of the words at the very bottom of that back cover. Something in me wanted to explore the "exciting photos" included in the book, but I have too much respect (and need) for money.


  1. OMG-I actually owned that book as a kid! I was a huge Mork and Mindy fan and yes,that biography tells a very watered down version of his life up to that point.

    I don't have it any more but if it was less than a dollar, you should've bought it:)

    1. I have to say, the odds that you had this book and read this article were like a few billion to one. Talk about Jungian synchronicity, right?

      I think I would've been laughing too hard to read the material straight, but maybe when I return to that bookstore, I might give it a shot. I'm just terribly far behind in my reading list just now =)


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