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Remembering Robin Williams: In Memoriam
The end of Robin William’s decades of laughter brought reactions far and wide. Some were shocked, others sad, and still others may have cried when the streams of social media broke the news that comedian/actor Robin Williams had taken his own life from severe depression, according to Marin County, Calif., sheriff’s officers.
To say Williams, 63, was a comedian and an actor falls short of describing his full legacy. He made us laugh at his onstage/on-air antics. He made us forget our troubles–even if for a while. Even while he was struggled privately, he only thought of making others feel better through his ever unique brand of humor. Though he made guest appearances on “The Richard Pryor Show” and “Eight Is Enough” in 1977, his appearance as Mork on “Happy Days” landed him celebrity status nation-wide in 1978.
Williams reprised the role in Mork & Mindy and even ad-libbed his lines on the show, with co-stars Pam Dawber, Conrad Janis, and comedian Jonathan Winters, whom Williams idolized. He even released a comedy album, Reality… what a Concept, in 1979, which featured that famous manic energy and earned him the first of five Grammys. He also earned Grammys for Live 2002 and A Night at the Met (2006), as well as for the Good Morning, Vietnam soundtrack album and a children’s recording.
The film The World According to Garp (1982) came at a most opportune time in his career and revealed a different side of Williams. In a movie that featured quirky characters he could have portrayed very easily, Williams instead played a serious writer deeply influenced by his feminist mother. This film paved the way to Academy Award-nominated roles for Best Actor in a Leading Role in Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989) and The Fisher King (1991).
He would also receive the Oscar for Best Actor in a Support Role for Good Will Hunting (1997). To name his “best” film is difficult because he appeared in so many–and in so many personalities. He appeared as a nanny/wannabe actor in Mrs. Doubtfire, a firefighter-turned-resort-owner in Club Paradise, a doctor in Awakenings, an android in Bicentennial Man, President Dwight Eisenhower in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, the angriest man in Brooklyn, and a controlling music hustler in August Rush. His work also connected generations. Young adults remember Williams as the professor in Flubber, the child-turned-jungle-man in Jumanji, the voice of the genie in Aladdin, a medical student in Patch Adams and Teddy Roosevelt in Night at the Museum.
He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Dec. 12, 1990 and Johnny Carson chose Williams as a guest on the last episode of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson on May 21, 1992. There was a gentler side to Williams that fellow celebrities will reflect upon for years to come, including appearing with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal on Comic Relief telethons benefiting the homeless. He most famously–and touchingly–came to the aid of his former Julliard roommate, Christopher Reeve (Superman), after the latter was paralyzed in a horseback accident. Reeve entertained suicidal thoughts prior to Williams’ comic relief, perhaps just what the big screen doctor ordered.
Williams returned to television last year with The Crazy Ones, in which Dawber made a guest appearance, his career coming full circle. Williams had a few films in post-production, including a third Night at the Museum, in which he’ll reprise the role of Roosevelt this Dec. 19th. We will, however, never see the Mrs. Doubtfire sequel he recently agreed to shoot. Few entertainers accomplished what Williams had, perhaps few people period. His laughter ended last Monday, but his works, life, and laughs will undoubtedly endure far longer than even he lived.
Now, please join us as we celebrate some of the best of Robin Williams’ career from the words of our own writers.
Mork and Mindy
My earliest memories of Robin Williams was Mork & Mindy. When I was young, I used to sit in my Dad’s workshop and watch Nick-At-Night all the time and Robin always made me laugh. Turns out he would make me laugh throughout my entire life and it is so horrifying to hear about how badly he was deep in depression. This just goes to show you how well some people can hide it. Instead of asking him to make us laugh just one more time, we should have asked “How are you, Robin?” You’ll be missed, O’ Captain, My Captain.
Like many 80s-90s kids, Robin Williams helped define my childhood. I was fascinated by his turn as an aged Peter Pan in Hook, delighted by his zany, infectiously funny Genie in Aladdin and wished all my teachers could be as inspiring as his role in Dead Poets Society. Jumanji became one of my favorite kid movies in large part to Williams’ unique charisma and likability, even as a haunted (and hunted) man. Famous deaths always remind us of our own mortality, but Williams’ film, television and stand-up comedy roles touched many of us; with his passing we collectively feel our culture grow a little bit dimmer. Rest in peace, Oh captain my captain.
PC Editor | Leviathyn
I’m surprised to say I was actually pretty upset when I heard of Robin Williams’ suicide. I’m normally not that affected by celebrities’ deaths because I didn’t know them personally, but something about Williams’ death struck a depressing chord. Maybe it was because I grew up watching his films, but it’s probably because such a colorful, humorous person who brought so much joy to the world could be so horribly affected by depression that he felt suicide was the only answer.
As for my favorite role of his, I have to go with Mrs. Doubtfire, simply because it was a movie my siblings and I watched over and over again as children. And really, it’s a touching story and one of the few times a man cross-dresses in film and it’s hilarious. In truth, though, there weren’t many roles he played that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. It’s a shame I won’t have any more Robin Williams films to look forward to.
Sony Section | Leviathyn
Funny. Brilliant. Versatile. Genius. All these words can barely describe an actor and comedian with such an indescribable presence. “The funniest people are sometimes the saddest,” he once told us, and for someone with his battles, he shared in more laughter than most do in a lifetime. A man always ten steps ahead of himself, Robin Williams was an unpredictable, remarkable talent that brought as much joy to the big screen as video games reportedly brought to him on the small screen.
A part of my childhood will always owed to Hook, an epilogue of sorts to the story of the lost boy that would never grow up, but did. His Peter Pan put him in his element: being a kid. I crowed along with the Lost Boys and pretended to fight up the deck of a pirate ship. I wasn’t inspired to be a pirate, or a poet, or even an animated genie, but Robin Williams taught me to laugh. I can’t say I knew him either, but I felt like a part of me grew up with Peter, along with everyone else that did in one way or another; he was like an old friend. May he have found his own Neverland.
Nintendo Section | Leviathyn
Robin Williams: 1951-2014