Robin Williams

Who is Robin Williams?

Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014) was one of the greatest American actor and comedian. He started as a stand-up comedian in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the mid-70s. He is credited with leading San Francisco’s comedy renaissance. After rising to fame as an alien called Mork in the TV sci-fi sitcom series Mork & Mindy, Williams established a career in both stand-up comedy and feature film acting. He was known for his improvisational skills.

Right after his first starring film role in Popeye (1980), Williams starred or co-starred in various films that achieved both critical acclaim and financial success, including Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), Aladdin (1992), The Birdcage (1996), and Good Will Hunting (1997). He also starred in widely acclaimed films such as The World According to Garp (1982), Moscow on the Hudson (1984), Awakenings (1990), The Fisher King (1991), One Hour Photo (2002), and World’s Greatest Dad (2009), as well as box office hits such as Hook (1991), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumanji (1995) and Night at the Museum (2006).

Some of his great Trade Marks:

  • Wild improvised stream-of-consciousness comedy dialogue where he would do cultural references, impersonations and one-liners with rapid switching.
  • Unique skill at imitating almost any voices
  • Frequently played offbeat and eccentric characters
  • Frequently played fathers or family men
  • Often played characters lacking in self-awareness
  • Often played men who have suffered a trauma or loss
  • Often played characters with mental instability and/or a deep capacity for violence (One Hour Photo, Insomnia)
  • Distinctive low-pitched (and extremely versatile) voice
  • Clean shaven in comedies and bearded in dramatic films

Trivia

  • In 1997 he was voted funniest man alive by Entertainment Weekly.
  • When he auditioned for the role of Mork from Ork on Happy Days (1974), producer Garry Marshall told him to sit down. Williams immediately sat on his head on the chair. Marshall hired him, saying that he was the only alien who auditioned.
  • During the making of Mork & Mindy (1978), he departed from the scripts and ad-libbed so many times and so well that the producers stopped trying to make him stick to the script and deliberately left gaps in the later scripts, leaving only “Mork can go off here” in those places so he could improvise.
  • He released the album: “Reality… What a Concept” on Casablanca Records (1979).
  • He was set to appear in Star Trek: The Next Generation: A Matter of Time (1991), as the time traveler Prof. Berlinghoff Rasmussen, but a schedule conflict with Hook (1991) forced him to drop out (the role eventually went to Matt Frewer). He was inspired to seek a Trek role by his friend, Whoopi Goldberg, who had a recurring role on the series as the bartender Guinan.
  • He was a huge fan of the sport of Rugby Union, and in particular New Zealand All Black star Jonah Lomu, who flew to San Francisco and gifted him with a signed All Black jersey. On a recent visit to New Zealand they were reunited on national television, Williams accepting another All Black jersey–except this time it had Jonah’s #11 on the back.
  • He attended Claremont Men’s College, where he played soccer.
  • In 1998 he was listed by Entertainment Weekly as one of the 25 Best Actors.

His unusual Death

On August 11, 2014, this great actor and comedian Williams died by suicide at his home in Paradise Cay, California. In the initial report released on August 12, the Marin County Sheriff’s Office deputy coroner stated Williams had hanged himself. His body was cremated at Montes Chapel of the Hills in San Anselmo and his ashes were scattered in San Francisco Bay on August 21.

Personal quotes:

  • Cocaine is God’s way of telling you you are making too much money.
  • …And now that you have a child you have to clean up your act, ’cause you can’t drink anymore. You can’t come home drunk and go, “Hey, here’s a little switch: Daddy’s gonna throw up on you!”.
  • Ah, yes, divorce, from the Latin word meaning to rip out a man’s genitals through his wallet.
  • See, the problem is that God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one at a time.
  • Ballet: Men wearing pants so tight that you can tell what religion they are.
  • You can start any Monty Python routine and people finish it for you. Everyone knows it like shorthand.
  • [on Canada] Canada is like a loft apartment over a really great party.
  • Comedy is acting out optimism.
  • [to troops in Iraq] I’m looking at a group of heavily armed people here. I’m telling myself “If you’re not funny, it’s a problem.”.
  • [on Popeye (1980)] If you watch it backward, it has a plot.

 

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