Robin Williams is no longer with us. He died Monday, Aug. 11, at age 63, in what is considered to have been a suicide.
We tend to hatch an immediate swarm of question marks when a person of Williams’s stature leaves the world; so much success, so much limelight, so much praise and love. He made millions monetarily; made billions laugh hard. Why leave? We may never know.
A one-of-a-kind megaton comedic talent, Williams hit the big-time in the late 1970’s sitcom “Mork & Mindy.” Much like Eddie Murphy, he was known for his jaw-dropping, spot-on mimicry abilities.
Oliver Sacks, the scientist whom Williams played in the movie “Awakenings,” said words to the effect that after seeing Robin play him, for weeks thereafter, Sacks felt like he himself was doing an impersonation of Williams, impersonating Sacks. Williams was that kind of soul-stealing good.
Renowned actor and teacher John Houseman, one of Williams’s instructors at Julliard (one of the world’s top acting schools) said, however, that Williams could never really do dramatic acting. His classmate Christopher Reeves, yes, Williams, no.
That’s the thing about the stratospheric comics; they function on a different plane. They have perhaps too much energy for the inner quiet needed for drama. And yet Williams went on to win an Oscar, Hollywood’s highest compliment, in the 1997 dramatic role, “Good Will Hunting.”
Robin Williams’s main talent was a blazing-speed, free-associating, stream-of-consciousness rant that could last for hours. People close to him said the speed of his brain was on par with a supercomputer. The references, the details, the sheer brilliance of his intellect over a vast variety of topics, spit out at warp-speed, with precision comedic timing—was staggering.
Married twice previously, Robin Williams and his wife Susan Schneider, 48, were married in October 2011. They’d met shortly before Williams’s heart operation in 2009. Susan nursed her husband through his convalescence, and they honeymooned in Paris.
Williams won three Golden Globes, and acted in many, many Hollywood films. On Broadway, Williams worked with fellow comedian Steve Martin in a 1988 revival of “Waiting for Godot.”
Robin Williams transcended what’s normally considered a successful show business career. He ran the gamut: comedy, drama, stand-up, and world-stage celebrity.
Williams was pronounced dead at his home in California on Monday, according to the sheriff’s office in Marin County, north of San Francisco. The sheriff’s office said the cause of death appears to be a suicide due to asphyxia.
This reporter’s favorite Robin Williams film is the 1990 “Cadillac Man,” with Tim Robbins and a pre-“Nanny” fame Fran Drescher. It’s hysterical. Most projects Williams touched produced belly laughs unto pain. What a life. We will miss him sorely.