Long before the JonBenet Ramsey house began its reign as the best known residence in Boulder (for tragic reasons), the home most visitors wanted to drive past was the one at 1619 Pine Street, which appeared in the credit sequence and most episodes of Mork and Mindy, the iconic '70s/'80s sitcom nominally set in Boulder, which made actor Robin Williams a star.
So when news broke yesterday that Williams was dead at 63 after apparently taking his own life, it was only natural that people would gather at the residence to pay their respects to one of the acting world's most complicated and surreal funnymen. Photos, a video and more below.
Williams was much more than Mork, the speed-yapping alien from the planet Ork who plopped down in Boulder, presumably because it was the earthly location most out of this world. Indeed, my own personal encounter with the actor took place in 1984-1985, after the show had run its course and he'd embarked on a movie career that began with a memorable turn in 1982's The World According to Garp and would eventually earn him an Oscar for 1997's Good Will Hunting.
At the time, I was working at the Tower Records branch on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, and Williams, like many L.A. celebrities, had stopped by to pick up some tunes. As he was exiting, my mother, who was in town for a few days, passed him in the doorway, then told me she'd sideswiped him with a "Nanoo nanoo," his oddball greeting from the show. I was immediately horror-struck, since that's exactly the kind of thing my mom would do -- although, in this case, she didn't. She was only trying to get a rise out of me, and she succeeded. But in retrospect, I wish she'd actually delivered the line, because I'll bet Williams would have turned it into a good-natured comedy routine. He may have been tormented personally, but publicly, he tended to be warm, accessible and acutely attuned to the humor and absurdity all around us. Which pretty much defines my mom.
Of course, Coloradans of a certain age felt a connection to Williams thanks to Mork, even though little of the show beyond establishing shots was filmed in town. An exception noted by the Boulder Daily Camera was a sequence that found Williams rollerskating down Flagstaff and the Pearl Street Mall.
Even so, the house at 1619 Pine still feels like Williams's old place. Here's an interactive graphic of the residence; if you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map."
View Larger Map
Among those who made the pilgrimage there yesterday was Representative Jared Polis, who tweeted the following:
Orson calling Mork, come in Mork...Come in Mork...Mork... Thank u 4 making us laugh Robin Williams pic.twitter.com/Msp9Yv7gjE
— Jared Polis (@jaredpolis) August 12, 2014
Of course, Williams will be remembered for much more than the TV program that led to his initial burst of fame -- not just movies ranging from genius (his vocal acrobatics as the genie in Aladdin) to the teeth-grindingly sincere (Patch Adams), but also stand-up performances that doubled as thrilling high-wire acts. Even without his ties to Boulder, his death would sting. With it, the ache is that much more pronounced.
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Here's a video featuring the Boulder-centric Mork and Mindy credit sequence and a segment from an episode.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.