1970’s American kid’s comedy shows are well represented today when it comes to birthdays. Both Happy Days actress Erin Moran and Mork and Mindy star Pam Dawber celebrate the day of their birth, along with Ralph Malph’s freckles which are 50 today.
Erin Moran who played Joanie Cunningham is 55 today, whilst Pam Dawber who played Mindy opposite Robin William’s Mork turns 64.
I had no idea, until this morning, that Moran started her career as part of the cast on 1960’s children drama Daktari. She initially auditioned for the show, set in an East African Animal Study Centre, as the part of Clarence the cross-eyed lion. Unfortunately, as she didn’t have cross-eyes (or was a lion) she was rejected for the role.
However, she impressed the casting team enough to land the role of orphan Jenny Jones.The part she initially went for was given to a real cross eyed lion, who had auditioned and failed for the part of Jenny Jones.
The show ended in 1969 when Clarence, the cross-eyed lion, underwent corrective eye surgery in a fit of narcissism. Bosses decreed that his operation had rendered him less lovable and the show less watchable. Even the introduction of Arthur, the tourettes speaking parrot, couldn’t save Daktari from its fate!
Moran’s big break came in 1974 when she got the role of Richie Cunningham’s sister Joanie in Happy Days. As a young teenager, her character spent most of her time fascinated with the dating exploits of her elder brother. She’d regularly irritate Richie by hanging around him on the occasions he brought a young lady to Chez Cunningham.
She was possibly wondering “How the chuff did he pull that girl?!” It’s certainly what I thought as a kid watching the show, not in those words of course!
My siblings and me were avid fans of the show during the 1970’s. My brother Ian, in particular, would watch the programme religiously. He dressed as the Archbishop of Canterbury when it aired! They truly were Happy Days!
Mork and Mindy actress Pam Dawber was probably one of my first teenage TV crushes. Although saying that the show, which started in 1978, was aired at a very hormonal time in my teens and I probably found Coronation Street’s Emily Bishop attractive in those days!
Despite that, though, it didn’t distract me from laughing (uncontrollably at times) at the crazy hairy handed alien from Ork (Robin Williams). The presence of the uproarious comedian definitely had Mork and Mindy up there as one my favourite kids shows as a youngster.
Mork and Mindy was the world’s first good look at the comedic genius of Williams, and Dawber’s chief role was to play it straight in the face of Williams’s nonstop wackiness. Mork & Mindy was a huge hit worldwide and made both lead actors stars.
However, not even Dawber and Williams’ input could save the show when its popularity diminished, due to thin plots, in the fourth series and it was axed in 1982.
Pam Dawber has been married to NCIS actor Mark Harmon since 1987. They met and married when Harmon came to the realisation that his crush on Emily Bishop was never going to bear fruit!
Anyway, time to end this minor tribute to two US children’s shows I was extremely fond of as a nipper! …………… Many happy returns Joanie, Mindy and Ralph’s freckles!