C.H. from Santa Barbara found a Mork and Mindy script, along with a few other TV classic scripts, in a beat up cardboard box at a Pomona Antique mall; the Mork and Mindy episode she found was outrageous and famous. Why? Here’s the plot line:
It’s Fall 1981, Mork and Mindy marry and honeymoon on planet Ork. Mork subsequently gives birth to a small egg that pops out of his navel. That egg, sitting in their bedroom, grows to be the size of an upright porta-potty. When Mork and Mindy’s baby breaks open his egg, he emerges 6 feet tall, 225 pounds, and 50-years old. As the egg cracks open Mindy says, “I hope he doesn’t eat the bedroom set.” Jonathan Winters, who wears a size 42 diaper, by the way, plays the huge baby. Mork and Mindy name him Mearth (M for Mork and Mindy, and Earth); when Mearth first speaks, Mork is mommy and Mindy is Shoe. All three family members crawl to bed in matching pink bunny slippers. Problem is, Mearth, born a very mature man, continues along the timeline of age, growing younger: he was conceived on Ork, the reverse of earth, chronologically speaking.
How do you put a value on such precious and timeless memories? How do we put a dollar figure on a treasure like this, hailing from Boulder, CO, a suburb in Western TV Land? C.H. writes me about this script, for which I am writing about TV script ephemera, and here’s the irony in that: Mork, remember, is an alien from Ork, sent to earth to study human life – in large part by ‘studying’ our TV shows.
Here is the determination of script values, which C.H. needs to determine for her script’s level of value, which can range from $20 to $2,000. (I have an original signed Gone With the Wind script worth only $75.) Is it an original? Look at the paper color, is it blue or yellow? Is it a print out from a PDF? (Stores such as Script City in LA will sell you a PDF of a script for $20.) Does it contain writer’s or actor’s notes? Is that actor famous? (such as Robin Williams: if he signed it, the value is greater, as Williams was known for improvising off the script). Is the script signed by any performer? (scripts are often assigned, one to each actor). The most valuable scripts are the original TV scripts from the 50’s – 60’s; for example annotated scripts of The Twilight Zone can sell for thousands of dollars.
Condition of the script is important as deterioration can be accelerated with poorly stored or stained paper. How to tell if yours, C.H. is authentic, are the words themselves: consult the online Mork and Mindy archives to see if the original scripts compare. Value, therefore, increases if further proof of authenticity exists. Those proofs may be the often overlooked cast lists and shooting schedules. EBay sales of scripts sometimes contain certificates of authenticity of which I am always skeptical, so check out the authenticator.
Moreover, stars’ signatures make some scripts doubly valuable for both TV history and those autographs. If a show becomes a hit, sometimes the whole cast will sign the script and add a few photos. If the cast or an actor has signed the script, look for signatures with ballpoint pens, not signatures with felt-tipped pens, which are easily forged. Even PDF version scripts can be sold signed, and are therefore cheaper, but are essentially photocopies.
Is yours a continuity script or binder from the wardrobe department, containing Polaroid’s of actors throughout the taping? Those assure that the actor is dressed in the same costume over multiple taping days. These continuity scripts sometimes contain delightful windows into the process.
Searching for scripts’ values, I found this site of collectors of such objects: planetmegamall.com. My actor sister tells me that unsigned TV reproductions are sold online by the SEASON where one can buy up to 30-scripts. That’s a way to learn about the craft of TV writing: one can learn how to structure, format and describe action. I would say, C.H., that if your script is signed by Robin Williams upon such a momentous episode you have a real find there.
Certified appraiser for estates, inheritances and trusts.
Dr. Elizabeth Stewart's column appears every week in the Salon & Style section of the Santa Barbara News Press. Email her your questions and high-resolution photos at ElizabethAppraisals @ gmail.com
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