Pam Dawber

Last updated

Pam Dawber
Pam Dawber 2012.jpg
Pam Dawber in 2012
Born
Pamela Dawber

(1951-10-18) October 18, 1951 (age 69)
OccupationActress, producer, singer
Years active1978–2016
Spouse(s)
(m. 1987)
Children2
Relatives Tom Harmon
(father-in-law)
Elyse Knox
(mother-in-law)
Kelly Harmon
(sister-in-law)
Kristin Nelson
(sister-in-law)

Pamela Dawber (born October 18, 1951) is an American actress best known for her lead television sitcom roles as Mindy McConnell in Mork & Mindy (1978–1982) and Samantha Russell in My Sister Sam (1986–1988).

Contents

Early life

Dawber was born in Detroit, the older of two daughters of Thelma M. (née Fisher) and Eugene E. Dawber, a commercial artist. [1] [2] She went to Reid Elementary School in Goodrich and attended North Farmington High School and Oakland Community College (OCC), with the intention of transferring to a four-year college. [3] She deferred her studies at OCC to do some modeling work and eventually dropped out after deciding to go into modeling full-time.

Career

Dawber moved to New York City and was initially a fashion model with Wilhelmina Models before switching to acting. She appeared in television commercials (Nair, Underalls, etc.). [4] [5]

Dawber screen-tested for the title role in Tabitha, a 1977-1978 situation comedy spun off from Bewitched , which role instead went to Lisa Hartman. However, ABC-TV was favorably enough impressed with her to enroll her in its "talent development" program, which paid its participants until they could find appropriate roles.[ citation needed ] Garry K. Marshall recruited her from this program.

Breakthrough: Mork & Mindy

Dawber's professional breakthrough came when Marshall chose her, despite her having relatively little acting experience and not having auditioned for the part, as one of the two title characters of the ABC sitcom Mork & Mindy, which ran from 1978 to 1982. She portrayed Mindy McConnell, the comedic foil and eventual love interest for the extraterrestrial Mork from the planet Ork, played by a then-unknown Robin Williams. The show was extremely popular in its debut season, when it averaged at number three in the Nielsen ratings for the year. [6] The only major difficulty for her on set was that she often found it impossible to maintain the proper composure in character in the face of her co-star's comedic talent. Also, pressure came from the TV network to sexualize her character as the series progressed, which Dawber successfully resisted, with Williams' support.

"Savoyard"

Dawber sang in a 1980s Los Angeles Civic Light Opera production of Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, based on the Joseph Papp/New York Shakespeare Festival production. Her role, as Mabel, had been played by Linda Ronstadt in the New York run of the show.

My Sister Sam

From 1986 to 1988, Dawber again had the title role in a television series, playing Samantha Russell in the CBS sitcom My Sister Sam, co-starring Rebecca Schaeffer. The series was a success in its first season, but it suffered a massive ratings drop in its second after moving to Saturday night. My Sister Sam left the air in April 1988, with half of the second season's episodes never airing on CBS, but eventually airing (along with all previous episodes) on USA Network.

In July 1989, over a year after the show's cancellation, Schaeffer was shot and killed by Robert John Bardo, an obsessed fan, in front of her apartment. Dawber reported being "devastated" by her former co-star's death. [7] Dawber and her other surviving My Sister Sam co-stars, Joel Brooks, David Naughton and Jenny O'Hara, reunited to film a public service announcement about violence prevention, and Dawber herself became a gun control advocate. With the birth of her second child, she left the industry for family reasons and acted sporadically during the 1990s.

Film work

Although mostly known for her television work, Dawber has starred in several films, including the comedy movie Stay Tuned (1992) with John Ritter and the period movie I'll Remember April (1999), alongside her husband Mark Harmon.

Return to television

In 1997, Dawber starred in the television series Life... and Stuff. [8]

In 2014, she reunited with Robin Williams on his comedy series The Crazy Ones as a love interest of Williams's character. [9] [10] But this reunion failed to boost the show's ratings, and it was cancelled shortly afterwards. Williams, already suffering from Lewy body disease by this time, died by suicide later that year.

Dawber is a national spokeswoman for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Garry K. Marshall, the film-and-television comedy writer-producer-director who, as noted above, had made possible Dawber's professional breakthrough, died in 2016. In that year, Dawber made a guest appearance on The Odd Couple in a tribute episode to Marshall, along with other such Marshall alums as Ron Howard, Garry's own sister Penny Marshall, Cindy Williams, Don Most, Anson Williams and Marion Ross.

Personal life

Dawber married actor Mark Harmon on March 21, 1987, in a private ceremony. [2] [11] They have two sons: Sean Thomas Harmon (born April 25, 1988), [12] also an actor, and Ty Christian Harmon (born June 25, 1992). [13] The couple is known to be private about their family life and rarely appear in public together with their children or speak about one another in interviews.

Filmography

Television
YearTitleRoleNotes
1978Sister TerriTerri1 episode
1978–1982 Mork & Mindy Mindy McConnell94 episodes
1982 Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour Mindy McConnell (voice)14 episodes
1985 The Twilight Zone Karen Billings1 episode: "But Can She Type?" segment
1986–1988 My Sister Sam Samantha "Sam" Russell44 episodes
1987 Faerie Tale Theatre Pearl1 episode: "The Little Mermaid"
1994 Dream On Cheryl Castorini1 episode: "From Here to Paternity"
1996 Adventures from the Book of Virtues Liese (voice)1 episode: "Self-Discipline"
1997 Life... and Stuff Ronnie Boswell5 episodes
1997–1998 101 Dalmatians: The Series Perdy (voice)20 episodes
2014 The Crazy Ones Lily1 episode: "Love Sucks"
2016 The Odd Couple Arnette1 episode: "Taffy Days"
Film
YearTitleRoleNotes
1978 A Wedding Tracy FarrellFeature film
1980 The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything Bonny Lee BeaumontTelevision film
1981 Swan Lake Princess Odette (voice)Feature film
1982 Remembrance of Love Marcy RabinTelevision film
1983Through Naked EyesAnne WalshTelevision film
1984Last of the Great SurvivorsLaura MatthewsTelevision film
1985This Wife for HireMarsha HarperTelevision film
1985 Wild Horses Daryl ReeseTelevision film
1986American GeishaGillian BurkeTelevision film
1988 Quiet Victory: The Charlie Wedemeyer Story Lucy WedemeyerTelevision film
1989 Do You Know the Muffin Man? Kendra DollisonTelevision film
1990 The Face of Fear Connie WeaverTelevision film
1992 Stay Tuned Helen KnableFeature film
1993The Man with Three WivesRobynTelevision film
1994 Web of Deception Ellen BeneschTelevision film
1994 A Child's Cry for Help Monica ShawTelevision film
1995Trail of TearsCheryl HarrisTelevision film
1996A Stranger to LoveAndieTelevision film
1999 Don't Look Behind You Liz CorriganTelevision film
1999 I'll Remember April Barbara CooperFeature film
2006 Christa McAuliffe: Reach for the StarsHerselfDocumentary film [14]

Related Research Articles

Robin Williams American actor and comedian

Robin McLaurin Williams was an American actor and comedian. Known for his improvisational skills and a wide variety of memorable voices, he is often regarded as one of the best comedians of all time. Williams began performing stand-up comedy in San Francisco and Los Angeles during the mid-1970s, and rose to fame for playing the alien Mork in the sitcom Mork & Mindy (1978–1982).

<i>Mork & Mindy</i> American TV situation comedy

Mork & Mindy is an American sitcom television series that aired on ABC from September 14, 1978 to May 27, 1982. A spin-off after a highly successful episode of Happy Days, it starred Robin Williams as Mork, an extraterrestrial who comes to Earth from the planet Ork in a small, one-Orkan egg-shaped spaceship and Pam Dawber as Mindy McConnell, his human friend and roommate, and later his wife and the mother of his child.

<i>Happy Days</i> 1974–1984 television comedy set in the 1950s

Happy Days is an American sitcom television series that aired first-run on the ABC network from January 15, 1974, to September 24, 1984, with a total of 255 half-hour episodes spanning eleven seasons. Created by Garry Marshall, the series was one of the most successful of the 1970s, an idealized vision of life in the mid-1950s to mid-1960s Midwestern United States, and starred Ron Howard as young Richie Cunningham, Henry Winkler as his friend Fonzie, and Tom Bosley and Marion Ross as Richie's parents, Howard and Marion Cunningham. Although it opened to mixed reviews from critics, Happy Days became successful and popular over time.

Jonathan Winters American comedian, actor, and artist

Jonathan Harshman Winters III was an American comedian, actor, author, television host, and artist. Beginning in 1960, Winters recorded many classic comedy albums for the Verve Records label. He also had records released every decade for over 50 years, receiving 11 Grammy nominations, including eight for Best Comedy Album, during his career. From these nominations, he won the Grammy Award for Best Album for Children for his contribution to an adaptation of The Little Prince in 1975 and the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Comedy Album for Crank(y) Calls in 1996.

Penny Marshall American actress, director and producer

Carole Penny Marshall was an American actress, director, and producer. She came to notice in the 1970s for her role as Laverne DeFazio on the television sitcom Laverne & Shirley (1976–1983), receiving three nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy for her portrayal.

Garry Marshall American director, producer, writer, and actor

Garry Kent Marshall was an American film director, film producer, screenwriter, and actor who is best known for creating Happy Days and its various spin-offs, developing Neil Simon's 1965 play The Odd Couple for television, and directing Pretty Woman, Beaches, Runaway Bride, Valentine's Day, New Year's Eve, Mother's Day, The Princess Diaries, and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.

<i>My Sister Sam</i>

My Sister Sam is an American sitcom starring Pam Dawber and Rebecca Schaeffer that aired on CBS from October 6, 1986 to April 12, 1988.

Rebecca Schaeffer

Rebecca Lucile Schaeffer was an American model and actress. She began her career as a teen model before moving on to acting. In 1986, she landed the role of Patricia "Patti" Russell in the CBS comedy My Sister Sam. The series was canceled in 1988, and Schaeffer appeared in several films, including the black comedy Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills. At the age of 21, Schaeffer was shot and killed by Robert John Bardo, an obsessed fan who had been stalking her.

Mark Harmon American actor

Thomas Mark Harmon is an American television and film actor. He has appeared in a wide variety of roles since the early 1970s. Initially a college football player, his role on St. Elsewhere led to his being named "Sexiest Man Alive" by People in 1986. After spending the majority of the 1990s as a character actor, he played Secret Service special agent Simon Donovan in The West Wing, receiving a 2002 Emmy Award nomination for his acting in a four-episode story arc.

Cindy Williams American actress

Cynthia Jane Williams is an American actress known for her role as Shirley Feeney on the television sitcom Laverne & Shirley (1976–1982).

Mindy is an English feminine given name.

Erinn Hayes American actress

Alexandra Erinn Hayes is an American actress and comedian. She is known for her role as Dr. Lola Spratt on the Adult Swim sitcom Childrens Hospital, which she later reprised in the Netflix spinoff series Medical Police. She has played roles in a number of network sitcoms, including Alison on The Winner (2007), Melanie Clayton on Worst Week (2008–2009), and Sheila on Guys with Kids (2012–2013). In 2012, she had her first feature film role in the black comedy It's a Disaster. She also starred in the Amazon series The Dangerous Book for Boys and the first season of the CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait.

"Mork Goes Erk" is the seventeenth episode of the first season of Mork & Mindy. The episode first premiered on ABC on February 8, 1979. "Mork Goes Erk" was later released on VHS on January 1, 1998 as part of a two-episode special which also included "Mork's First Christmas," and on DVD on September 7, 2004 as part of the "Mork & Mindy - The Complete First Season" DVD boxed set.

Winifred Hervey is an American television producer and screenwriter. She is sometimes credited as Winifred Hervey Stallworth.

Laverne & Shirley, also known as Laverne & Shirley in the Army, is an American animated television series produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and Paramount Television that was originally broadcast on ABC from October 10, 1981 to November 13, 1982. It is a spin-off of the live-action sitcom Laverne & Shirley with the title characters voiced by Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams and was loosely based on the 1979 two-part episode "We're in the Army, Now" in which Laverne and Shirley enlisted in the Army.

Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour is a 1982-1983 American animated television series produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and Ruby-Spears Enterprises in association with Paramount Television, featuring animated versions of characters from the live-action sitcoms Mork & Mindy, Laverne & Shirley and Happy Days, all part of the same franchise. This Saturday morning series lasted for one season on ABC.

Straight man Stock character, notable for remaining composed in a comedic performance

The straight man is a stock character in a comedy performance, especially a double act, sketch comedy, or farce. When a comedy partner behaves eccentrically, the straight man is expected to maintain composure. Whatever direct contribution to the comedy a straight man provides usually comes in the form of deadpan. A straight man with no direct comedic role has historically been known as a stooge. Typically he is expected to feed the funny man lines that he can respond to for laughs, while seeking no acclamation for himself. If a straight man unintentionally breaks composure and laughs, it is known in British English as corpsing.

"My Favorite Orkan" is the 22nd episode of the fifth season of the 1970s television sitcom Happy Days, making it the 110th episode overall. It is notable for occurring during the shark-jumping season of the sitcom's run, as well as introducing Robin Williams to a larger audience. The actor's popular appearance in this episode led to the spin-off series Mork & Mindy, which was based on his character.

The 5th People's Choice Awards, honoring the best in popular culture for 1978, were held in 1979. They were broadcast on CBS.

Ronelle "Ronny" Marshall Hallin is an American television producer and actress, and sister of Penny Marshall and Garry Marshall, she is best known for her work on the television shows Happy Days, Mork & Mindy, and Step by Step.

References

  1. "Pam Dawber Biography (1954-)". Filmreference.com. October 18, 1954. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
  2. 1 2 Bernstein, Fred (March 1987). "Dawber hits the Mark!". People . 27: 45.
  3. "Detroit Native Pam Dawber To Reunite With 'Mork & Mindy' Alumn Robin Williams On CBS' 'The Crazy Ones'". Cbslocal. February 13, 2014. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  4. Marshall, Garry (1997). Wake Me When It's Funny: How to Break Into Show Business and Stay. Newmarket Press. p. 16. ISBN   9781557042880.
  5. Brant, Marley (2006). Happier days: Paramount Television's classic sitcoms, 1974-1984. Billboard Books. pp. 99–100. ISBN   9780823089338.
  6. "Screen Source: Top TV Shows, 1970's". Amug.org. March 28, 1997. Archived from the original on October 20, 2015. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
  7. John E. Douglas, Mark Olshaker (November 1, 1998). Obsession. Simon & Schuster. ISBN   9781439107409 . Retrieved September 26, 2014. [Rebecca Schaeffer's] Sam costar Pam Dawber adored her and was devastated by her death.
  8. "Review: 'Life and Stuff'". Variety . June 6, 1997.
  9. Sara Bibel (January 24, 2014). "Pam Dawber to Reunite With Robin Williams in an Upcoming Episode of 'The Crazy Ones'". TVbytheNumbers.Zap2it.com. Archived from the original on January 28, 2014. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  10. "Pam Dawber Reunites with Robin Williams". January 24, 2014. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  11. Earl Blackwell's Celebrity Register, 1990 . Gale Research Incorporated. 1990. pp.  113, 190. ISBN   9780810368750.
  12. "Baby Boom". Los Angeles Times . April 27, 1988.
  13. "In Step With...Mark Harmon". Parade. September 2008. Archived from the original on September 8, 2012. Retrieved November 26, 2013.
  14. "Traipsing Thru Films". Teacher1986.com. Retrieved May 16, 2013.