Updated date:

Comedic Legend: Robin Williams

Readmikenow enjoys writing about unique and interesting people. He likes to learn about individuals who live or have lived unusual lives.

Robin Williams

Robin Williams

Robin Williams is a recognized comedic genius. He impressed the world with his wide range of talents. Both adults and children enjoyed his charms and expressions. Williams could play innocent and then provide legendary witty dialogue. He was an extremely talented individual who could grab the hearts of an audience in a serious role and then have them laughing when doing comedy. Away from the public, Williams was always a person dealing with serious depression.

Young Robin Williams with his mother

Young Robin Williams with his mother

Early Years

On July 21, 1951, Robin McLaughlin Williams was born in Chicago at St. Luke's Hospital in Illinois. His father was Robert Fitzgerald Williams and his mother was Laurie McLaurin. William's father was a senior executive with Ford Corporation. His mother was a former model. He had three half-brothers. Williams said his mother was an early influence on his sense of humor. He would work to get her attention by making her laugh. Williams was a student at Gorton Elementary School and then attended Deer Path Junior High School. He said that during this time he was very shy. This changed when he became part of his high school's drama department. At the age of 12, his family moved to Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and into a 40 room farmhouse. He attended a private school. Williams was an excellent student. He was elected class president and was on the school's wrestling team. William's parents worked, and he spent a lot of his time with the family maid. When Williams was 16, his family moved to Tiburon California. Williams then attended Redwood High School. When he graduated his classmates voted him “Funniest,” and the “Most Likely Not to Succeed.”

Robin Williams during college

Robin Williams during college

College

After he finished high school, Williams attended Claremont Men's College. He dropped out and attended the College of Marin. Here he studied theater. He was known for improvising during his time in the program leaving others constantly laughing. In 1973, William attended Juilliard School with a full scholarship. He and Christopher Reeve were accepted into the advanced program by John Houseman.

Robin Williams doing stand-up comedy

Robin Williams doing stand-up comedy

Stand-Up Comedy

In 1975, Williams was in the San Francisco Bay Area and started performing stand-up comedy. He would perform at comedy clubs and also tend bar for the clubs. Williams moved to Los Angeles. TV producer George Schlatter saw Williams perform and asked him to appear on a show called Laugh-In in 1977. This was William's TV debut appearance. He then continued to perform at comedy clubs in the United States and elsewhere. William's work as a stand-up comedian was consistent during his entire career. He was voted 13th on Comedy Central's list of 100 Greatest Stand-up Comedians of all time in 1974.

Robin Williams as television character Mork

Robin Williams as television character Mork

Television

Garry Marshall cast Williams as the alien Mork for an episode of the TV show “Happy Days” in 1978. It was called “My Favorite Orkan.” His character was so popular that a spin-off television sitcom was created called “Mork & Mindy.” It was on from 1978 to 1982. The show was designed to play to Williams skill with improvisational skills. At the height of its popularity, the show had an audience of approximately sixty million. It is credited for being what turned Williams into an entertainment superstar. After the success of the show, “Mork & Mindy,” William's popularity increased. He did three HBO comedy specials. He even won a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album.

Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting

Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting

Movies

Williams did several movies that enhanced his career. In 1977, his first film role was in a low-budget comedy called “Can I do it...'till I Need Glasses?” In 1980, he had his first starring performance as the main character in the movie “Popeye.” In 1982, Williams had the leading role in the movie “The World According to Garp.” Williams experienced his first big break in a movie called “Good Morning Vietnam” which was directed by Barry Levinson. Williams was permitted to play the role during the entire movie without a script. He improvised the majority of his lines. In 1984, he was in the movie “Moscow on the Hudson.” He also played dramatic movie roles. In 1989, was in the “Dead Poets Society.” He played an English teacher at a private school. Williams played a troubled homeless man in 1991 in the movie “The Fisher King.” In 1997, Williams played a therapist in “Good Will Hunting.” He also played Peter Pan in the movie “Hook.” His success brought him international recognition. Williams was awarded an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his part in “Good Will Hunting.” He also was given two Academy Award nominations for “The Fisher King” and the “Dead Poets Society.”

Robin Williams with Genie character he provided the voice for in the animated movie Aladdin

Robin Williams with Genie character he provided the voice for in the animated movie Aladdin

Movie Voice Roles

Williams was very successful at his voice roles in various animated films. The Genie in the animated movie “Aladdin” was written for him. He also improvised a good portion of his dialogue. It was the highest-grossing movie of 1992. Williams also had voice roles in movies such as 1992, “Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest,” 2005 “Robots,” and 2006 “Happy feet.”

Robin William with his children

Robin William with his children

Family

In 1978, Williams married Valerie Velardi who was his first wife. They had a son in 1983 named Zak. The couple divorced in 1988. Williams began to date his son's nanny after his divorce. Her name was Marsha Garces. Williams and Graces married in 1989. Graces was six months pregnant with his child at the time. The couple had two children. Zelda Rae Williams was born in 1989 and Cody Alan William was born in 1991. Williams and Graces divorced in 2010. Graphic designer Susan Schneider was William's third wife. They were married in October 2011. William's son Zak had a son in 2019 named McLaurin “Mickey” Clement Williams. He was William's first grandchild.

Addictions

Williams was addicted to cocaine during the late 1970s and early 1980s. He tried to quit drugs and alcohol and turned to exercise. Williams used cycling to help him deal with his intense depression. He started drinking again in 2003. Williams checked himself into a substance-abuse treatment facility in 2006 admitting he was an alcoholic. He again admitted himself into an addiction treatment center in 2014 for alcoholism.

Robin Williams with Oscar

Robin Williams with Oscar

Awards

Williams won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his part in “Good Will Hunting.” He was the winner of six Golden Globe Awards. Williams was also awarded two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards, and five Grammy Awards.

NY Post story about death of Robin Williams

NY Post story about death of Robin Williams

Death

Robin Williams died on August 11, 2014. He committed suicide by hanging at his home in Paradise Cay, California. At Monte's Chapel of the Hills in San Anselmo, Williams was cremated. The following day his ashes were scattered over San Francisco Bay.

Prior to Death

Williams suffered from Lewy body disease. His condition was described by many physicians as one of the most significant pathologies they had ever seen. Lewy body disease is caused by protein deposits that build up and disturb a person's normal brain function. Williams had to deal with a sudden and prolonged increase in insomnia, stress, fear, and anxiety. It kept getting worse, and he began to experience paranoia, memory loss, and delusions. His physician stated Williams knew his mind was not functioning right and nothing seemed to be helping him.

Robin Williams star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Robin Williams star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Legacy

Williams will always be remembered as a brilliant stand-up comedian as well as a television star. His acting is a history of film roles with serious drama as well as humor and substance. Many people in the entertainment industry consider Williams to have been a national treasure. This is also how many in the public still view Robin Williams.

Sources

Wikipedia

Biographics

Vanity Fair

USA Today

© 2020 Readmikenow

Comments

Readmikenow (author) on December 02, 2020:

Alan, thank for comment.

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on December 02, 2020:

That's the trouble with comic genius - or any genius, it's like a chain of volcanoes that breaks out somewhere different each time. Sufferers find it hard to get it across to others that they've got a problem, observers think they're being funny.

Maybe Robin W. had the perfect breeding ground for his ills and spills, that coincided with a desire to be loved as a comic. Marty Feldman, Spike Milligan, Peter Cook and Billy Connolly all had these flashes and flaws, and we laughed, applauded and left them with their problems.

You can't have it all.

Readmikenow (author) on December 02, 2020:

Liz, thanks. I agree, he left a body of work that will be enjoyed for generations. His death was bad but how he died was also crushing.

Liz Westwood from UK on December 02, 2020:

He certainly was a legend. I first noticed him in Mork and Mindy. His career demonstrated his versatility. So sad that his life should end in that way.

Readmikenow (author) on December 02, 2020:

Cheryl, thanks. I believe he was a legend in the entertainment industry.

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on December 02, 2020:

He was indeed unique

Related Articles