Oct. 18th, 1951
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Pam Dawber's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
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).
Born in Detroit, Michigan, the older of two daughters of Thelma M. (née Fisher) and Eugene E. Dawber, a commercial artist. 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. She deferred her studies at OCC to do some modeling work but 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, et al.).
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 #3 in the Nielsen ratings for the year. She had previously 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 regular financial compensations till they could find roles for which they were appropriate and which where appropriate for them. It was from this program that Marshall recruited her.
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. 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.
In 2014, she reunited with 'Robin Williams' on his comedy series The Crazy Ones as a love interest of Williams's character. But unfortunately, 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.
Dawber married actor 'Mark Harmon' (March 21, 1987), in a private ceremony. They have two sons: Sean Thomas Harmon (b. April 25, 1988), also an actor, and Ty Christian Harmon (b. June 25, 1992). 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.
Dawber hobbies are canoeing, cooking, horseback riding and swimming.
- Introduced to her husband, 'Mark Harmon (I)' (qv), by 'Gina Hecht' (qv).
- Her younger sister, Leslie, who was born with a congestive heart condition, died on December, 1976.
- Has two sons with husband 'Mark Harmon (I)' (qv): 'Sean Harmon (I)' (qv) (born 26 April 1988) and Ty Christian Harmon (25 June 1992).
- Served as a judge on the panel that chose Christa McAuliffe as NASA's "Teacher in Space".
- Is a national spokesperson for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America
- Sister-in-law of 'Kelly Harmon' (qv) and 'Kristin Harmon' (qv).
- Daughter-in-law of 'Tom Harmon (I)' (qv).
- Aunt, by marriage, of 'Tracy Nelson (I)' (qv), 'Matthew Nelson (I)' (qv), 'Sam Nelson (II)' (qv) and 'Gunnar Nelson (I)' (qv).