Today marks one year since the world received the tragic news of the passing of Robin Williams, the prominent actor who enchanted millions with his inimitable artistic flair for comedy and his unparalleled performances in such films that include, Jumanji, Patch Adams and Mrs. Doubtfire, among other meritorious productions that garnered him a plethora of accolades.
There is no better word to describe Robin Williams other than genius. He was the true virtuoso of the film industry. In today’s Hollywood where talent is very few and far between, Robin Williams continued to showcase his masterful dexterity in comedy and dramatic acting achievements,which is something that audiences worldwide will marvel at for many decades to come.
Robin McLaurin Williams made his star studded debut in this world on July 21st, 1951, at St. Lukes Hospital in Chicago, Illinois to parents, Robert Fitzgerald Williams and Laurie McLaurin, who at the time of Robin’s birth were busy with their hectic work commitments while trying to raise two older sons. When Robin was born, his mother was engaged in Christian Science, a practice she got into since retiring from her prolific modeling career, while his father worked as a senior executive at the Lincoln Mercury Division for Ford’s Motor Company.
Growing up wasn’t easy for Robin. As a child he was often bullied, which resulted in him being shy and leading a solitary existence. His shyness would continue on all through his school years at Gorton Elementary School, where he was always singled out by other students, who considered him to be different, and would seclude him from many activities. By the time he was transferred to Deer Path Junior High School his insecurity was very evident and he would remain this way until he suddenly took an interest in acting and became involved in the high school drama department, where he would overcome his shyness. At Deer Path, he was befriended by a few people his own age, who remembered him for his shy nature, amiable qualities and his humorous aura.
In late 1963, Williams father relocated to Detroit for business, and resided in suburban Bloomfield Hills in Michigan. Robin, who was then twelve, attended Detroit Country Day School, where he would flourish in every subject and later becoming class president.
For a while his family life in Detroit was running smoothy, but after a few months, his father’s work load increased, and his mother also maintained a busy schedule, which meant that Williams was cared for by the family maid. Eventually his father got tired of working constantly, and when Williams was sixteen, he retired and moved with his family to Tiburon, California, where Williams enrolled at Redwood High School.
After graduating from Redwood, Williams enrolled at Claremont Men’s College to study political science, but once he found himself becoming inattentive with the subject, he decided to withdraw from the course to pursue a career in acting. It didn’t take long for Robin to find what he wanted, and not long after abandoning political science, he signed a contract for three years of study at the College Of Marin, a theater based institution in Kentfield, California.
Shortly after he was cast in the role of Fagin in the musical production of “Oliver”. Once Marin’s drama professor, James Dunn witnessed Robin’s performance, he realized Robin’s adeptness in acting, and instantly knew that he was going to be something special.
In 1973, Williams was one of twenty students to attain a full scholarship to the Juilliard School in New York. With his talent, he gained acceptance by John Houseman into the Advanced Program at the school, where he met other fellow classmates, Christopher Reeve, William Hurt and Mandy Patinkin, who would all go on to achieve future success in the motion picture industry.
Williams years at Juilliard came to a cessation in 1976, when Houseman hinted to him that there was nothing else that he could possibly learn about acting at their school. There for, Williams took that advice and set about acquiring work as an actor.
By now his family were situated in Marin County, where Williams remained pounding pavements and looking for work. Shortly after he commenced work as a stand up comedian in the San Francisco Bay Area. His first performance was held at the Holy City Zoo, a famed comedy club in San Francisco.
Robin Williams was becoming a household name in San Francisco. Night after night he would be entertaining audiences with his comedy shows. After a few years he decided to take his stand up comedies to Los Angeles, in the hopes of getting recognized. Once in Los Angeles, he continued on performing at an array of different venues, including the Comedy Club, where he attracted the attention of the renowned TV producer, George Schlatter, who instantly became intrigued by Williams comedic genius, and asked him to appear on a revival of his “Laugh-In” show, which aired on television in late 1977.
Even though the “Laugh-In” revival failed, Williams was applauded for his spectacular appearance with his infectious talent that would lead to a prolific career in television, where he would appear in a myriad of notable shows, including “Mork & Mindy”, the show that would transform Robin Williams into a superstar.
With his growing popularity, Williams was invited as a regular guest on several talk shows, which included, “The Tonight Show” and “Late Night With David Letterman”, on which he appeared fifty times.
In 1977, Robin Williams made his film debut in the low budget comedy “Can I do It, Till I Need Glasses”. Sadly the film flopped dramatically on it’s release, and his first movie role went unrecognized. It wasn’t until 1980 when he appeared in his breakthrough role as the title character in “Pop Eye” that Williams would be noticed for his acting prowess on the big screen. Around this time he accepted roles in smaller vehicles, though these roles did not help advance his film career, and Williams was still mainly associated with “Mork & Mindy”.
In June 1978, Robin Williams married Valerie Velardi, who he had met in 1976. The couple bore one child, a son, who they named Zachary. Five years after Zachary’s birth Williams divorced Valerie, and a year later he married Marcia Garces, the mother of his two younger children, Zelda Rae Williams and Cody Alan Williams. For the first few years the marriage ran smoothly until striking altercations which would lead to a divorce in 2010, and Williams marrying his third wife, Susan Schneider.
Robin Williams big break came in 1987 when he obtained the starring role in “Good Morning Vietnam”. The film opened to critical acclaim, garnering Williams an Academy Award nomination for his thunderous portrayal of Adrian Cronauer.
During the annals of his career in motion pictures, Robin Williams starred in a multitude of productions, playing many diverse roles from comedy to heavy dramatics in films that earned him a legion of accolades and a popularity rating that would escalate to great heights. Some of these films include, “Good Will Hunting”, One Hour Photo” and “Jumanji”.
Williams final role came in 2014, when he starred in “The Angriest Man In Brooklyn”. Unfortunately the film was largely panned at the box office, and was only given a limited theatrical release.
After years of suffering from severe depression, Robin Williams tragically ended his own life on August 11th, 2014, at the age of 63. He is survived by his wife and three children.
With a career spanning forty years, Robin Williams will be remembered as the virtuoso of the film industry, who enlightened audiences with his memorable comedy traits and a deluge of charity work. He will be greatly missed, not only by the motion picture industry, but by his legion of fans worldwide.
Rest In Peace Robin Williams. Thank you for a lifetime of entertainment.