HOUSTON, August 11, 2014 —Iconic actor, comedian, and personality, Robin Williams (1951-2014), was pronounced dead just hours ago. Fans, and the entertainment community are stunned. Words of grief are being expressed:
I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.
— Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo) August 11, 2014
President Obama’s statement sent from the White House summed it up:
“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien — but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most — from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets.”
Personally Williams had a lifelong and public battle with alcoholism, drugs and depression. By being honest with himself and his fans, he undoubtedly helped many who took strength from him. Reports are that he was in rehab as recently as this July.
We first met the manic actor and comedian on the 1970s era show Happy Days where he first appeared as an alien visitor to earth, Mork for Ork. The Fonz explaining the kiss to Mork is classic fun.
That show, which starred Ron Howard and Henry Winkler spun off to the series Mork & Mindy with Pam Dawber.
“Happy Days” star Henry Winkler said it was “unimaginable that this is the reality today, that this incredible human being, incredible, delicate, funny, dramatic human being is gone.”
Winkler said he “realized I was in the presence of greatness” at Williams’ first rehearsal as Mork.
“I just realized my only job is to keep a straight face,” said Winkler, who played “The Fonz.” “And it was impossible. Because no matter what you said to him, no matter what line you gave to him, he took it in, processed it, and then it flew out of his mouth, never the same way twice. And it was incredibly funny every time.”
Williams was an accomplished standup comedian and actor. He started his standup career in the early 1970s, then and both his film and standup careers began to takeoff in the early 1980s, following his popularity as Mork. Williams attributed his character of Mork to Johnathan Winters, who, he often stated was a great influence on his comedy. When Winters died in 2013, Williams called him his “Comedy Buddha.”
Winters was cast as Mork’s son on Mork & Mindy. that relationship led to one of the funniest moments in Tonight Show history.
As an actor it was his third film released in ’82, The World According to Garp that fans began to notice the depth of his art. Williams would gain his first Golden Globe Award Nomination for Best Actor from his role in the 1984 film, Moscow on the Hudson.
He would finally claim his first Best Actor Golden Globe Award for his role in the 1987 film, Good Morning Vietnam portraying the legendary Adrian Cronauer.
Other notable movies include Dead Poets Society, Awakenings, The Fisher King, Hook, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Good Will Hunting. In addition to his work in film he also performed on Broadway. He headed his one-man show; Robin Williams: Live on Broadway,in July 2002.
He performed in Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo on Broadway in March 2011. His standup career broke many long-held records including selling out Broadway in thirty minutes. Parallel to his professional career, was his charity work and his work as an ambassador to Americas men and women in the armed services.
Williams, along with his former wife Marsha, was the co-founder of the Windfall Foundation. The Windfall Foundation is a philanthropic organization that raises money for numerous charities including Comic Relief, which has long been hosted by Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldeberg.
Robin Williams was introduced to a new generation of fans with his roles as the Genie in Alladin and Teddy Roosevelt in the Night at the Museum franchise with Ben Stiller.
Talented, generous, and apparently hurting, the world lost one talented gem today. His bereaved wife, Susan Schneider, issued a brief statement:
“This morning I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings.”