Williams' TV career began inauspiciously as a writer and performer on "The Richard Pryor Show," which lasted just four episodes on
He attracted considerably more attention the next year when he guest starred as an alien in the fifth season of the hit nostalgia sitcom "Happy Days." In the episode, "My Favorite Orkan," Williams played Mork, an alien from the planet Ork, who attempts to take
Instead of being a creative low point for the series (that came earlier that same season when Fonzie literally jumped a shark), the Mork episode proved so successful that he came back the next season before spinning off into his own starring role in "Mork & Mindy."
"Mork & Mindy" aired on
The first episode expanded the character from the odd joke of his "Happy Days" appearance and established his new world, contemporary Boulder, Colo. Though the show's popularity was not as long-lived as "Happy Days" -- it ended after four seasons -- it did grab Williams his first Emmy nomination for lead actor in a comedy series.
As Williams' big screen career took off in the 1980s, he continued to appear on TV, whether it was a small role in Shelley Duvall's anthology series "Faerie Tale Theatre" or an appearance on stand-up friend
He also continued to perform stand-up specials on TV, including arguably his most iconic, "An Evening at the Met," which aired in 1986. He won two
Williams held the distinction of being one of Johnny Carson's final two guests on
He returned to acting on TV in a major way in 1994 for a special episode of the NBC drama "Homicide: Life on the Street," executive produced by his
The next year, he was back to creating laughs, albeit the awkward kind, playing a version of himself on HBO's show business comedy "The Larry Sanders Show."
Williams and Crystal made unexpected cameos in 1997 on the sitcom hit "Friends" just before the release of their movie, "
In the last year of his life, Williams made a guest appearance on Louis CK's acclaimed series "Louie," playing himself, and starred in "The Crazy Ones" opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar.
"The Crazy Ones" was a comedy series that aired on CBS in 2013 and featured Williams as an eccentric ad exec. The series, created by David E. Kelley, was designed to give Williams a showcase for his comedy after his big screen career had slowed down. Unfortunately, the series never lifted off with viewers and was canceled after one season.