Pam Dawber

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Pam Dawber
Pam Dawber 2012.jpg
Pam Dawber in 2012
Born Pamela Gene Dawber
(1951-10-18) October 18, 1951 (age 65)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Occupation Actress, producer
Years active 1978–present
Spouse(s) Mark Harmon (m. 1987)
Children 2

Pamela Gene "Pam" 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).

Early life[edit]

Dawber was born in Detroit, Michigan, the older of two daughters of Thelma M. (née Fisher) and Eugene E. Dawber, a commercial artist.[1][2] She went to elementary school in Goodrich and attended North Farmington High School and Oakland Community College, 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.


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 situation comedy spun off from Bewitched, which went to Lisa Hartman, instead. ABC-TV, however, 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] It was from this program that Garry K. Marshall recruited her.

Dawber's professional breakthrough came when Garry K. 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]

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.

From 1986 to 1988, Dawber again had the title role in a TV 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 an obsessed fan in front of her apartment, which devastated Dawber.[7] Dawber and her 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.

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

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] Unfortunately, though, this reunion failed to boost the show's ratings, and it was canceled shortly afterwards.

Dawber is a national spokeswoman for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Personal life[edit]

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.


Year Title Role Notes
1978– 1982 Mork & Mindy Mindy McConnell 1979 People's Choice Awards Favorite Actress in a New TV Program
1982 Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour Mindy McConnell Voice only
1985 The New Twilight Zone Karen Billings 1 episode, "But Can She Type?" segment
1986– 1988 My Sister Sam Samantha "Sam" Russell 1987 People's Choice Awards Favorite Actress in a New TV Program
1987 Faerie Tale Theatre: The Little Mermaid Pearl
1994 Dream On Cheryl Castorini 1 episode
1997 Life... and Stuff Ronnie Boswell 3 episodes
1997– 1998 101 Dalmatians: The Series Perdy Voice only; 20 episodes
2014 The Crazy Ones Lily 1 episode, "Love Sucks"
Year Title Role Notes
1978 A Wedding Tracy Farrell
1980 The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything Bonny Lee Beaumont
1981 Swan Lake Princess Odette Voice only
1982 Remembrance of Love Marcy Rabin
1983 Through Naked Eyes Anne Walsh
1984 Last of the Great Survivors Laura Matthews
1985 This Wife for Hire Marsha Harper
Wild Horses Daryl Reese
1986 American Geisha Gillian Burke
1988 Quiet Victory: The Charlie Wedemeyer Story Lucy Wedemeyer
1989 Do You Know the Muffin Man? Kendra Dollison
1990 The Face of Fear Connie Weaver
1992 Stay Tuned Helen Knable
1993 The Man with Three Wives Robyn
1994 Web of Deception Ellen Benesch
1994 A Child's Cry for Help Monica Shaw
1995 A Stranger to Love Andie
1999 Trail of Tears Cheryl Harris
I'll Remember April Barbara Cooper
Don't Look Behind You Liz Corrigan
2006 Christa McAuliffe: Reach for the Stars Documentary[14]


  1. ^ "Pam Dawber Biography (1954-)". October 18, 1954. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b 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. 
  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". March 28, 1997. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  7. ^ John E. Douglas, Mark Olshaker (Nov 1, 1998). Obsession. Simon & Schuster. 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'". 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". Retrieved May 16, 2013. 

External links[edit]