A candid shot of Raquel Welch (as Captain Nirvana) and Robin Williams as the lovable alien Mork on the set of ‘Mork & Mindy’ in 1979.
I was still of a tender age when one of the most gorgeous women to ever woman, Raquel Welch showed up looking a bit like a busty, tanned David Bowie in thigh-high silver boots on Mork & Mindy. Are you with me? Good. Because in addition to Raquel’s role as Captain Nirvana—the leader of the very sexy-sounding fictional alien race, the Necrotons, we also get to see Playboy’s Playmate of the Year (1978), Debra Jo Fondren in a bikini in a golden cage. If any of this sounds like a blatant ratings grab, you’d be right. Originally, the episode “Mork vs. the Necrotons,” was going to be presented as a one-hour special but ended up airing as a two-part cliffhanger. If you remember anything about this show, it is likely this very episode or the perplexing thirteenth episode of the season when Mork became the first male Denver Broncos cheerleader. It’s hard to say. I came across a quote from Williams when he was asked about his feelings on the show, a contentious one for the cast:
“There were a lot of little kids who went through puberty watching that episode, and I think we lost a lot of the audience.”
It’s been well documented that Williams, Pam Dawber and the entire crew were challenged by Welch’s diva demands and behavior during filming. At one point the episode’s director, Howard Storm says Raquel suggested her younger, female hench-chicks should wear “dog masks” and she should lead them on to the set “on leashes.” Usually, this would sound like a pretty terrific idea given the fact that A) it came from Raquel Welch, and B) I rest my case. However, Storm mentioned to Welch she didn’t need to do anything but “snap her fingers,” and the girls would “drop to their knees.” Raquel liked this idea very much, and interestingly, the leash idea made its way on to the show anyway, and that’s all I’m gonna say about that.
I rewatched clips from both episodes while putting this post together, because of course, I did, and I laughed nearly to the point of exhaustion at times thanks to the gift which never stops giving—the comedy genius of Robin Williams. Much of Williams’ comedic outbursts on the show were improvised and timing to accommodate the actor to do so was written into scripts early during the show’s first season. After being so pleasantly reminded how great and profoundly weird the show was, I picked up season one and two on DVD for less than twenty bucks and will be binging on the show as soon as they show up. In anticipation of this blessed event, I’ve posted some great photos including some sweet, candid shots of Williams and Welch on the set, and footage of Williams and Welch from the show. Nanu Nanu!
Another candid shot of Williams and Welch.
Playmate of the Year 1978, Debra Jo Fondren (Kama), Raquel Welch, and Vicki Frederick (Sutra).
Frederick administering one of many Necroton torture methods to Mork.
Williams in the hot tub with Sutra and Kama.
Welch as Captain Nirvana.
More of Mork being tortured by Welch and her bad girls.
Here’s Williams and Welch right before the hot tub torture scene.
Sutra and Kama
Footage from part two of the episode featuring Welch and Williams in a sick dance off.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘The Unauthorized Story of Mork & Mindy’: Regrettable TV movie about Robin Williams’ big break
Robin Williams’ friendship with the Stranglers
Raquel Welch in campy 70’s TV variety show (with space dancers)
Bob Hope and Raquel Welch’s unfortunate cover of ‘Rocky Raccoon,’ 1970
‘Raquel!’: Kooky, camp, and kitsch TV special starring Raquel Welch and friends