Wednesday, September 17, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

When ‘Mork from Ork’ landed in Fairfield

1064897_10201582285988566_588412473_o

Robin Williams at Fairfield High School in 1979 (photo: Donna Varieur Horwedel) Click picture to view gallery

By
From page A2 | August 15, 2014 |

The heartbreaking suicide of Robin Williams produced a worldwide outpouring of grief as the actor/improvisational wizard/humanitarian touched so many people.

Like many people, I was first exposed to the comedic genius of Williams on the television show “Mork and Mindy,” a spin-off of “Happy Days.”

The show was a runaway hit and was nominated for two Emmy awards after its first season. There was even an awful cartoon series based on it and at the very end of hard rock band AC/DC’s 1979 album “Highway to Hell,” lead singer Bon Scott uttered the Mork-isms “Shazbot! Nanu Nanu.”

What then could prompt a celebrity of that stature to visit lil’ ol’ Fairfield on April Fools’ Day, 1979?

The answer is Williams’ well-known humanitarianism. The March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization that raised money to prevent premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality, had popular annual fundraising walk-a-thons called Superwalks all over the country.

Locals would get people to pledge so much money per mile they walked. The Fairfield/Vacaville Superwalk was 32 kilometers (that’s 20 miles) and walkers started out at Fairfield High School, then walked to Vacaville High (via the frontage road) and back again. There was a “poop-out bus” that picked up folks who couldn’t make it the whole way.

To boost participation in the events, the March of Dimes used celebrities. In 1977, brother and sister variety show stars Donny and Marie Osmond made an appearance. The next year, it was Andy Gibb, the youngest brother of the superstar singing trio the Bee Gees and a rising star in his own right.

Superwalk ’79 featured an appearance by Robin Williams, who landed in a helicopter at Fairfield High School. He was wearing the orange-and-blue shirt with trademarked rainbow suspenders he’d made famous on his TV show. Williams entertained the crowd with a bullhorn, then landed in Vacaville as well.

Many of the 2,600 local residents who participated in the event (it raised $78,000 for the March of Dimes) never forgot it.

Gayle Knowles-Hale: My dad was on the committee for that walk-a-thon and I got to meet Mr. Williams. He shook my father’s hand, hugged my mother, and when my dad introduced me, he hugged me, turned to my dad and said, “You have a beautiful daughter.” I laughed at the time because I had just completed the walk and was a sweaty mess, but I will hold that moment in my heart forever. He turned to my mom and said, “This is fantastic! So many people caring about others! I feel honored to be here!” He went to all the different spots to encourage people. It was one of the best moments of my life.

Sheila Shimek Christman: Me and a few friends decided to run the walk-a-thon instead of walking. We were 11. It was so neat to see him there. Of course we all still saw him as Mork. It made our summer to see him.

Frances Bond: We stole his Mork hat for a minute when he was talking to us through a cyclone fence. My friend did it, we ran, (we were 13), then he got on the microphone and made jokes and we ran it back to him. He could have been mad at us, but he turned it into a series of jokes. It was the highlight of my summer in 1979.

Kelvin Wade: I missed him. Walked 20 friggin’ miles, got blisters all over my feet and I didn’t even get to see him. When Andy Gibb came, at least I got to see his arm waving out of a helicopter. But then again, that could’ve been anyone’s arm!

Carl Lamera: We had just got to Vacaville High School on the walk-a-thon when his helicopter landed. We were pretty tired, but in a forward flash of “Good Morning Vietnam,” his wit re-energized the crowd to finish out the second half of the 32K walk. There were a lot of teenybopper girls asking to touch him, and he would reply how furry he was and how he hated being petted. His talent was awesome, and I am saddened at yet another passing of one of my childhood idols. RIP Robin.

Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at toekneeweighed@gmail.com.

Tony Wade

Tony Wade

Tony Wade is the slightly older yet infinitely more handsome brother of long-time DR columnist Kelvin Wade
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 2 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • nancyAugust 15, 2014 - 4:31 pm

    carl, I remember the furry part too. my friend had asked to touch him and his reply was, "I might get hair all over you". I had blister feet and took the pooped out ride back to Fairfield.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Ulises S. GuberAugust 15, 2014 - 10:12 pm

    It's sad the way some people try to profit from the death of actors and singers. Go on ebay and look up good morning Vietnam DVD way over priced. I had the same experience right after , John Lennon was killed, I collect records, always bought them for .25 cents to $1.00 at a various thrift stores, but when John Lennon was killed several thrift stores pulled Beatles albums out of the bins, boxes or wherever they had records and put Beatles albums in glass cases and marked them up. It's disgusting, and now it's happening with Robbin Williams DVD's RIP

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

David Grant doctor’s mission continues

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Chamber PAC draws candidates to Jelly Belly

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Damaged dog gets going-away party after getting healthy

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Suisun City slaying suspect case moves forward

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Touro University to host Zombie Run/Walk

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Land trust organizes Rockville Trails Preserve hike

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Police enlist help to find armed bandit

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A4, 12 Comments | Gallery

 
Chamber to host Suisun City candidates night

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A5

 
 
 
Suisun police to host medication take-back

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A5

Coastal Cleanup Day targets local waterways

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Judge questions juror in Calkins case

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

Drama reigns supreme with week’s film debuts

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

 
Anti-drug programs face funding shortfall

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A8

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Sept. 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
Suisun City police log: Sept. 14, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Sept. 13, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 13, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Sept. 14, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Weather for Sept. 17, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B14

.

US / World

Woman in wildfire’s path lost almost everything

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Lumber town takes stock after wind-driven wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

PG&E officials leave posts over improper emails

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
Things to know about California groundwater law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

California drivers must give bikes 3-foot buffer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 7 Comments | Gallery

 
San Francisco trying shaming for quake safety

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Governor signs first California groundwater rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Robbery suspects tried to make off with $15,600

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Top general: US ground troops possible in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Obama: Ebola outbreak a threat to global security

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

UN: Nearly $1 billion needed now to stop Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
CDC study: Americans’ bellies are expanding fast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 2 Comments | Gallery

Blacks, Hispanics have doubts about media accuracy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
School bus driver killed during safety drill

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Hunt on for survivalist charged in trooper killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
Afghan suicide bomber kills 3 foreign troops

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Mexico airlifts tourists after Hurricane Odile

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Ukraine lawmakers ratify landmark deal with Europe

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 1 Comment | Gallery

Iraq parliament rejects interior, defense nominees

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

 
.

Opinion

 
Time for utility execs to start worrying

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A11

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 17, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
Climate change: Complacent vs. apocalyptic

By John M. Crisp | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

 
Column focus on campaign signs misplaced

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 13 Comments

.

Living

Today in History: Sept. 17, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Sept. 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My selfish husband neglects and cheats on me. What’s next?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Sept. 17, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

All the flavors of fall in one twice-baked package

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Leave them feeling full with nutritious chia seeds

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

A late summer Southern classic – tomato pie

By Elizabeth Karmel | From Page: B6

 
.

Entertainment

CBS: Rihanna out of NFL telecast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Leonardo DiCaprio named UN Messenger of Peace

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Prep volleyball preview: Big goals for city teams

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Raiders games are like live reruns

By Tony Wade | From Page: B1, 1 Comment

Kazmir, sloppy Athletics lose 6-3 to Rangers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Armijo volleyball team falls to Vintage

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Peavy, Posey help Giants gain ground in NL West

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Criticism mounting for Vikings, Adrian Peterson

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

McIlroy wins PGA player of the year award

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Grand jury to weigh case of NASCAR’s Tony Stewart

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Sacramento Kings to retire Stojakovic’s jersey

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Broncos, Seahawks top AP Pro32 before rematch

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Union appeals Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension by NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jaguars sign Rodriguez grad Jensen off practice squad

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B2

Short stay at NASCAR’s party for AJ and Almirola

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Hindsight: a Ryder Cup tradition, like no other

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Senator ties NFL tax status to Redskins name

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
DA: Josh Gordon gets probation in DWI case in NC

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Anheuser-Busch, McDonald’s voice NFL disapproval

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
49ers defense looks to bounce back from tough day

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

.

Business

NASA picks Boeing and SpaceX to ferry astronauts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Web filter lifts block on gay sites

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Alibaba risk: China’s rise leaves out investors

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Corinthian Colleges sued for predatory lending

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

UPS expects to hire up to 95,000 seasonal workers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
US CEOs less optimistic about hiring, spending

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

.

Obituaries

Minnie Watkins Dixon

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Margaret King

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5