|Robin Williams 1951-2014|
Robin Williams whose comic personality coupled with his caring nature died on August 11, 2014 of suicide, the result of depression at the age of 63.
Born Robin McLaurin Williams on July 21, 1951 began his career as a stand-up comedian in San Francisco and Los Angeles and later became a successful actor when he began the TV series Mork & Mindy (1978-1982) as Mork.
- Popeye (1980)
- Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
- Dead Poets Society (1989)
- The Fisher King (1991)
- Hook (1991)
- Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
- Patch Adams (1998)
- What Dreams May Come (1998)
- Bicentennial Man (1999)
- Night at the Museum (2006)
Williams was raised in Chicago, Illinois until his father was transferred to Detroit moving to a 40-room farm house in a suburb. He attended the Detroit Country Day School and became president of the class, as well as playing on the soccer and wrestling team. In middle school, Williams was bullied and would look for different routes home. He was a lonely child and would tell jokes to his mother to make her laugh and get attention, spending much of his time in the large family home playing with his 2,000 toy soldiers. Later he would say:
My only companions, my only friends as a child were my imagination.
His father was away much of the time, working as an executive at the Ford Motor Company in charge of the Midwest region. His mother worked as well, Williams left to the maids they employed. When he was 16, his father took early retirement and the family moved to Woodacre, California where he attended Redwood High School in Larkspur. He graduated in 1969. Williams studied political science at Claremont McKenna College and after leaving Claremont, he received a full scholarship to the Julliard School in New York City. In between he studied theatre for three years at the College of Marin. He overcame his childhood shyness when he became involved in high school drama.
He was accepted into the advanced class at Julliard, one of two students, the other being Christopher Reeve. Another famous classmate was William Hurt. John Houseman told Williams in his junior year, 1976:
There's just nothing more we can teach you. So you should go out and work.
When his family had moved to Marin County in California in the early 1970s, Williams began to do stand-up comedy shows in the San Francisco area. His first performance was at the comedy club, Holy City Zoo. His comic inspiration was Jonathan Winters.
In addition to television and films, Williams also appeared on Broadway.
Despite being married three times, Williams was a caring father who once stated:
My children give me a great sense of wonder. Just to see them develop into these extraordinary human beings.
Williams was an avid enthusiast of video games, naming his first two children after game characters. His children are:
Zachary Pym “Zak” Williams, Zelda Rae Williams, and Cody Alan Williams.
Williams was a passionate supporter of the San Francisco 49ers and the San Francisco Giants. He was a member of the Episcopal Church. His favorite book was the Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov; and as a child it was the C.S. Lewis series of children's books like The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. He shared those books with his children, stating:
I would read the whole C.S. Lewis series out loud to my kids. I was once reading to Zelda, and she said 'Don't do any voices. Just read it as yourself.' So I did, I just read it straight, and she said 'That's better'.
Williams enjoyed jazz, a supported of environmentally-friendly vehicles and supported the troops by performing at USO shows in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was an advocate and supporter of Israel and on its 60th day of Independence, 2008, he appeared in Times Square with other celebrities and wished Israel a happy birthday.
Williams and his second wife, Marsha, founded the Windfall Foundation to raise money for several charities. He devoted much time to charity work. When the 2010 Canterbury earthquake occurred, Williams donated all proceeds of his “Weapons of Self Destruction” Christchurch performance to help rebuild the New Zealand city. Williams also supported the Red Cross and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
He befriended the famous gorilla, Koko and The Huffington Post wrote an article with video how Koko misses her friend. Watch the heartwarming interaction between Williams and Koko.
After 20 years of sobriety, formerly a user of cocaine and alcohol, he began drinking again in 2003 while working in a small town in Alaska. In 2006, he checked into a substance-abuse rehabilitation center in Oregon, admitting to be an alcoholic.
His depression developed because of his inability to stay away from alcohol beverages; which in turn attributed to his death.
I believe that Zak Williams best stated at SFGate what people should remember about Robin:
Yesterday, I lost my father and a best friend and the world got a little grayer. I will carry his heart with me every day. I would ask those that loved him to remember him by being as gentle, kind and generous as he would be. Seek to bring joy to the world as he sought.
I remember Robin Williams not for his personal failures, but for his successes and sincere caring for the people and the world around him.