Robin Williams – A Comedic Flash of Lightning

August 24, 2014
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Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead on Monday from an apparent suicide at his home in Northern California, Marin County Sheriff’s Office said. He was 63. The cause of death was suicide due to asphyxia.

Williams, who introduced his frenetic style on late 1970s TV series “Mork & Mindy” and had struggled with addiction in the past, had entered a Minnesota rehabilitation center last month to help him maintain sobriety.

Williams, who won an Academy Award for his role as a fatherly therapist in 1997’s “Good Will Hunting,” had been suffering from severe depression recently, his publicist Mara Buxbaum said. She said Williams was not using drugs or alcohol but had gone to the center to “fine-tune and focus” his sobriety after working a longer-than-usual schedule.

He was a comedic inspiration for many performers, but he also was a brilliant dramatic actor on stage and on the big screen. He was considered a rare talent and a comedic genius.

Wife Mourns
“This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken,” Williams’s wife Susan Schneider said in a statement.

Family Estate
The initial shock of Robin Williams’ tragic death, from an apparent suicide, is giving way to reflections of his legacy and memory. Another question many people are asking is what happens next for his family.

Williams was married to his third wife Susan Schneider for three years. He also had three adult children from his prior two marriages. Zachary 31, Zelda 25 and Cody 22. Reportedly his trust documents stated that he set up trust funds for his children in 2009. When each turned 21 they got 1/3 of the share. When they turned 25 they got half of what remained. When they turned 30 they each got their full share. The trust was not dependent on Robin’s death. The kids received their money, although Cody and Zelda have not been paid in full because of their age.

Robin had a significant amount of money outside the trust and Susan will almost certainly receive a significant amount.

Memorable Movie Moments
Good Will Hunting – Williams stars as psychiatrist Sean Maguire, who helps mathmatical genius Will Hunting (Matt Damon) to reach his full potential. The dramatic scene when Maguire holds Hunting’s face and repeats ‘It’s not your fault’ over and over again is an emotional pivot point in the film. (Williams earned a Best Supporting Oscar for his role)

Good Morning Vietnam – Williams played a DJ in the 1987 war comedy, which helped elevate him to superstar status. Amazingly most of the scenes in which Williams is broadcasting on the radio were completely improvised.

Mrs. Doubtfire – Just one of the many hilarious scenes in the comedy film where Williams is disguised as a woman, Mrs Doubtfire exclaims ‘This hollandaise smells like burnt rubber’ before realizing that she has set her prosthetic boobs on fire.

Mork & Mindy – Williams came to fame in sci-fi TV show Mork and Mindy, playing an alien who comes to Earth from the planet Ork in a small, one-man egg-shaped spaceship. In this famous scene he talks to an egg proclaiming “go, be free” before it splatters to the kitchen work top.

Dead Poets Society – Nominated for Best Actor in the Academy Awards, Williams played Professor Keating, an unconventional English teacher, who inspires his students to love of poetry and learn from a different approach.

Johnny Carson Tonight Show – It was Williams’ first appearance on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show when he had to calm himself down after taking a snipe at the sound technicians microphone hovering above his head and shouting “Look at this thing, look flipper.”

Awakenings – The memorable and poignant line from the drama in which Williams plays neurologist Dr Malcolm Sayer. ‘The human spirit is more powerful than any drug and that is what needs to be nourished with work, play, friendship, family. These are the things that matter.’

Hollywood Stunned
Robin Williams was loved by so many in the comedy world and many of his colleagues were stunned and remembered him.

Joan Rivers called in on Access Hollywood Live, and stated:

“I couldn’t believe it… You have to be in such depth, such a black moment in your life,” Joan said. “And yes, comics go up and down and we’re all manic depressive and he was a wild crazy genius, but my God, no one had an inkling that it was this bad.”

In 2008, Robin and Joan met the British Royal family together, and it was a moment where Robin’s talents shined. “He would just go off on any tangent and be funny and adorable. Nobody could do anything but laugh. The Royals were so reserved and kept in such a box… [but], they totally let go with [Robin] and adored him,” she recalled.

Joan was quick to point out that Robin was so much more than what people saw on stage.”He was an amazing actor, everyone is forgetting,” she said. “[It’s] very sad, very sad.”

Fellow comic Gilbert Gottfried also remembered the late star. Gilbert recalled a time early in his career, where Robin gave him the stage first while they both performed at a comedy club in New York City.

“When I got off stage he was laughing and wiping his eyes and [said to me], ‘Oh, you really roasted my cookies,'” he fondly recalled.

During the course of their comedy careers, Robin was always generous with Gilbert and often called on him to come on stage when they were playing the same club.

“[It was] exhilarating and exhausting at the same time when you worked with Robin,” he explained. “You had to keep on your toes every second. He was more than a comedian. I always felt he was a comedy force of nature.”

Sarah Michelle Gellar, who co-starred with Williams in the CBS comedy “The Crazy Ones,” commented he was the father figure she’d always “dreamed of having. My life is a better place because I knew Robin Williams,” the 37-year-old actress said in a statement to People magazine.

“The Crazy Ones” only lasted for a season, but it was more than enough time for the pair who played a father and daughter onscreen to form a similar bond off the set.

Twitter Love
On Twitter, there was a wave of those sharing their grief and memories:

Steve Martin – I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.

Conan O’Brien – Absolutely stunned to hear the news about Robin Williams. It’s unimaginable to me that we’ve lost such a genuinely funny and sweet man.

Ellen DeGeneres – I can’t believe the news about Robin Williams. He gave so much to so many people. I’m heartbroken.

Steve Martin – I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.

Ben Stiller – A tweet cannot begin to describe the hugeness of Robin William’s heart and soul and talent. This is so sad.

Wayne Brady – Robin Williams RIP. Truly one of the most talented men in the history of show business. What a loss. To lose those who make us laugh…wow.

Val Kilmer – One of the greatest nights of my youth was spent with dear Robin Williams. Let’s all get closer to our friends who are down, and share love.

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