Robin Williams 1951-2014
Just wanted to write a short post about the passing of the great Robin Williams. He started out as a TV star (this a TV site after all) playing the now beloved character Mork, who was first introduced to American audiences on “Happy Days,” then of course on the spin-off “Mork and Mindy.” As we all know, Williams went on to be a mega-movie star in extremely successful comedies, dramas, and animated films (I, like everyone else, love “Aladdin,” but he was also in another animated classic, “Ferngully,” which I watched over and over and over as a kid, and the super successful “Happy Feet” movies). Just this past year he took that Hollywood status of his and made headlines when he returned to television in CBS’s “The Crazy Ones,” where he let that larger than life persona of his take over the small screen again.
This celebrity death feels much heavier than others, maybe because he was such a large part of my childhood, like many others out there (and on this site) who grew up in the 90s. What’s amazing about his career is that not only does everyone know and love his movies, but it seems like everyone has a different favorite. Besides “Aladdin,” “Ferngully,” and “Happy Feet,” there are the hits “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Dead Poets Society,” “Hook,” “Jumanji” (another obsession of mine), “Good Morning, Vietnam,” “The Birdcage” (still makes me LOL), “Patch Adams,” and “Good Will Hunting” (for which he won an Oscar). Then there are the less talked about but still memorable films “Jack,” “Toys,” “Popeye,” “Death to Smoochy,” “One Hour Photo” (he really surprised us there), “Father’s Day,” “Nine Months,” “The World According to Garp,” and “What Dreams May Come.” Plus smaller, but key moments in films like “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “August Rush,” and “A.I. Artificial Intelligence.” And who could forget “Flubber,” “Bicentennial Man,” or the “Night at the Museum” movies? The list goes on and on.
There are more movies coming out later this year and in the near future that star Williams. The third “Museum” film features Williams as Teddy Roosevelt again for the holidays, and he apparently shines in his latest indie “Boulevard” as a closeted gay man. So luckily we’ll be seeing him a few more times on the big screen before he really does disappear from the spotlight for good.
There were a few specific moments during 20/20’s special “The Life and Death of Robin Williams” that really got me. First, I didn’t know that he and the late Christopher Reeve were such good friends. They showed a clip of Reeve in an interview saying that when he awoke in the hospital paralyzed after his accident, depressed and angry, Williams was there in a doctor’s uniform cracking jokes, and therefore made Reeve want to keep living. That’s huge. Watching the footage of a long-haired Williams voicing the Genie in “Aladdin,” making his co-stars crack up was also so interesting to watch. And seeing him go crazy in Central Park with Barbara Walters or in the Johnny Carson studio, doing everything he can to entertain the audience, was really captivating. Sweating bullets but never stopping the joke or taking a breath or a sip of water. And even when he was serious, talking to Diane Sawyer about his addictions a few years ago, there was an electricity there that pulled you in. Seeing Garry Marshall get choked up over Williams’ death was pretty heartbreaking.
I think, ultimately, this death is so sad not only because the talented and vibrant Williams took his own life, but because he felt like a real friend/nanny/teacher to us all.