Friday, July 22, 2016

Garry Marshall: TV Heydays

Garry Marshall had amazed the television industry with his monster hit Happy Days. ABC was eager to give Garry free reign to develop more hits. Garry would create another huge hit, only this time it would be something he would share with his sister. Laverne & Shirley would feature Garry's sister Penny as Laverne, a streetwise young lady whose best friend Shirley was a bright eyed innocent. The show was a monster success. ABC was becoming a force to be reckoned with due to the Marshalls.


The show eclipsed even Happy Days, rocketing to number one and spawning an entire album of songs sung by the two girls. (Though oddly not the chart topping theme song sung by Cindy Grecco.) Garry would make his biggest discovery for the next monster hit in his empire.

With Star Wars becoming a big hit, Garry pondered making a space themed show. His son's love of the action figures cemented his thinking. He decided to try a fanciful episode of Happy Days where an alien visits Milwaukee and the Cunninghams. Garry would search for an actor who could play a manic alien and he found him in Robin Williams, an up and coming comedian. The network was unsure about this show, but after a now legendary evening of filming, their doubts disappeared.


Robin Williams dazzled those present with his manic performance. The live studio audience went crazy, giving him a standing ovation at the end. Everyone there was certain they had seen a star being born- Robin Williams. ABC quickly picked up the new program Mork & Mindy, in which the alien Mork would move in with a young, single woman. Would the show be as successful as everyone believed it would be? It would.


The show was a monster success- there were toys, coloring books, lunch boxes and more. People loved Mork and the show became an even bigger hit. Garry Marshall had truly conquered television in a way even he had never dreamed of.