Tuesday, August 12, 2014

In Appreciation of: Robin Williams

Karen: I sit here stunned at the news of Robin Williams' passing. Only 63, still far too soon to leave this world. I don't want to dwell on the details of his death (and ask that you do not in your comments either) but rather remember his many contributions as an artist.

Karen: Robin Williams was such a huge spirit -he was so boundless in energy and creative ability, when he was really "on" he was a wonder to behold. His mind (and his mouth) moved a million miles a minute; it was hard to keep up with him at times, but always fun to try.

Karen: One of his great inspirations was comedian Jonathan Winters, and it was easy to see why. When the two of them were together, it seemed less like teacher and apprentice, and more like two kids having a ball. They were both two improvisational geniuses. Sadly, Winters passed away last year.

 Karen: Williams came to prominence as a comedian, first on TV in the show "Mork and Mindy," and certainly is remembered for his manic wit. A lot of kids grew up recognizing his voice as the Genie in Disney's Aladdin. His stand-up specials are still hilarious, and his many comedic roles are quite memorable. But Williams also was a terrific dramatic actor, who won a Best Supporting Actor for his role in Good Will Hunting. He always seemed to bring a certain wordiness and deep empathy to these roles.

Karen: I can't do the man service. I am just completely shocked and heart-broken that he's gone, yet another talented person tragically lost to us. I hope some of you can express your thoughts about him and which of his roles you really enjoyed the most.


Edo Bosnar said...

Really sad news. And nice write-up, Karen.
I don't necessarily agree with the rundown of his best movie roles, mainly their order, but it does include two of my personally favorite performances by Williams (in two of my favorite movies): The Fisher King and Moscow on the Hudson.

Anyway, listing all of my favorite performances and stand-up bits by Williams would look like a telephone directory, so I'll just post links to two that came to mind when I was thinking about his passing: his first appearance on the Tonight Show, and his by now almost universally well-known disquisition on Scotsmen and the origins of golf (fair warning for those few who've never seen it: liberal use of the f-word).

david_b said...

Such a shock and huge loss, I had dinner with Mr Williams a few years back when he entertained us troops in Kuwait. We joked about whether the mess hall food did indeed have an 'exit strategy' (the lame joke about our strategy in Iraq at the time..). He certainly enjoyed being with the troops. I was at his table with a few others.

It feels like the loss of Phil Hartman, but from all reports this obviously looks as it was self-afflicted. To me, his peaks were stand-up and doing the 'Tonight Show'.

A tremendous comic genius has been silenced. Sleep well, Mr Williams, and thank you for entertaining us.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I only just found out. My favourite film of his is "Dead Poets' Society" - the scene at the end when all the boys stand on their desks saying "O captain, my captain" is one of my favourite movie moments.

William said...

Extremely shocking and sad news. When my wife told me last night that Robin Williams died, I couldn't believe it. A total shocker. The world is definitely a darker place without him in it.

I grew up watching him on 'Mork and Mindy', and my favorite movie roll of his was 'Mrs. Doubtfire', (of which I believe they were in the process of making a sequel to).

It always struck me as odd that Robin Williams, one of the great comic geniuses of all time, was mostly known for starring in dramas like Good Will Hunting, Awakenings, Dead Poets Society, and What Dreams May Come. And a slew of comedy dramas like, Good Morning Viet Nam, Patch Adams, The World According To Garp, Moscow on the Hudson, The Fisher King, Popeye, and etc.

While he was a surprisingly accomplished serious dramatic actor, it always struck me as odd that he rarely starred in any straight up comedies.

In fact, it seemed he saved his funny stuff for TV, and I was really enjoying his recent sit-com 'The Crazy Ones', (even though I think it focused too much on Sarah Michele Gellar's character). I was still surprised it wasn't picked up for a second season.

Anonymous said...

"Always leave them laughing when you say goodbye.
Never linger long about or else you'll wear your welcome out.
When you meet a fellow with a tear-dimmed eye,
You can leave him laughing if you try.
When he tells his troubles interrupt him with a joke.
Tell him one he's never heard and he'll declare that it's a bird.
When he's giggling good you know
That's the time to turn and go
Always leave them laughing when you say goodbye"

George M Cohan

The Prowler.

Anonymous said...

I always thought he was hilarious, ever since the "Happy Days/Mork and Mindy" days (remember when he had the "duel" with Fonzie...Mork used his magic space finger and Fonzie used his thumb?)

One of my favourite Robin Williams routines was "Live at the Met"...I had the whole thing memorized when I was in high school.


Anonymous said...

Uh, the comment above is me, Mike W. in case anyone was confusing me with some of the other "Mikes" around here :)

Graham said...

The news just stunned me when I heard. I first saw him on Richard Pryor's very brief TV show on NBC and he showed a few flashes of what we would all come to know and love. That show was just a little bit ahead of it's time.

Most of my experiences with Mr. Williams date back to the Happy Days/Mork & Mindy/comedy albums period of the late 70's/early 80's. I can remember reading that the writers of M&M gave up on scripting and just wrote things like "Scene III, Mork does his thing." Probably for the best, though I thought the show settled into a rut when the title characters became an item and, hard as it may be to believe, when Jonathan Winters joined the cast. I really thought that would be great, and it was at times.

When he was "on," which was most of the time, he reminded me of a great jazz musician. It was astonishing how quick he was....just so far ahead of everybody else. I watched a few talk show clips last night and it was amazing. The first two albums he did were the best comedy albums I ever heard.

Back in the late 70's/early 80's when Dick Cavett had his PBS show, he did a long interview with Williams and just gave him about ten minutes to do improv using items on the set. I think he blew Cavett's mind.

I sort of lost track of a lot of his movies after we had kids and stopped going to non-Disney movies, but he was great in everything I saw, but I have to admit that most of what I've seen him in dates back to the late 80's/early 90's. The genie in Aladdin was him being himself, but he was also good in the more serious roles that I saw, too.

Still can't believe he's gone. I imagine he and Mr. Winters are raising the roof in comedy heaven right now.

Anonymous said...

One of my fondest childhood memories was watching Mork and Mindy. Every evening after school I'd run home to watch it. Mr. Williams, thank you for blessing the world with your unique gift and energy. I know he's probably looking down at us now from that standup club in the sky.

- Mike 'Mork forever' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Redartz said...

I had loved his comedy for quite a while. Then his leading role in The World According to Garp hit me like a brick. He brought a depth to comedy that is seldom seen; and was perhaps overshadowed at times by his manic genius. Of course, his later dramatic roles only magnified his reputation, and his influence. A warm, brilliant man, and a human in the best sense of the word.

Karen said...

I want to thank all of you for sharing your thoughts today. I was completely overcome yesterday and could barely put together a coherent post (as you could probably tell). You all did a wonderful job expressing how much Robin Williams meant to all of us. Williams' death hit me hard. Obviously, it is a tremendous tragedy. But beyond that, I've known three people who suffered from depression and also took their own lives. I can only hope that somehow, maybe his passing will increase awareness of the seriousness of depression and maybe get help to some folks who need it.

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