“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” -Robin Williams
Robin McLaurin Williams was an American actor, comedian, film producer, and screenwriter. Starting as a stand-up comedian in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the mid 1970s, he is credited with leading San Francisco’s comedy renaissance. After rising to fame as Mork in the TV series Mork & Mindy (1978–82), Williams went on to establish a career in both stand-up comedy and feature film acting.
His film career included acclaimed work such as Popeye (1980), The World According to Garp (1982), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), Awakenings (1990), The Fisher King (1991), and Good Will Hunting (1997), as well as financial successes such as Hook (1991), Aladdin (1992), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumanji, (1995), The Birdcage (1996), Night at the Museum (2006), and Happy Feet (2006). He appeared in the music video for Bobby McFerrin’s song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”.
Williams was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor three times and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as therapist Dr. Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting. He received two Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and five Grammy Awards.
Mrs. Doubtfire is a 1993 American comedy film starring Robin Williams. It won the Academy Award for Best Makeup. Although the film received mixed reviews during its original theatrical run, subsequent reevaluation has been more positive: the film was placed 67th in the American Film Institute’s 100 Years, 100 Laughs: America’s Funniest Movies, a list of the 100 funniest movies of the 20th century, and was also rated No. 40 on Bravo’s 100 Funniest Movies of All Time.
Although recognized as a comedian, Williams became known for taking mostly roles of substance and serious drama. Williams was considered a “national treasure” by many in the entertainment industry and by the public.
His on-stage energy and improvisational skill became a model for a new generation of stand-up comedians. Many comedians valued the way he worked highly personal issues into his comedy routines, especially his honesty about drug and alcohol addiction, along with depression.
“I started doing comedy because that was the only stage that I could find. It was the pure idea of being on stage. That was the only thing that interested me, along with learning the craft and working, and just being in productions with people.” -Robin Williams
His unusual free-form style of comedy became so identified with him that new comedians imitated him. Jim Carrey impersonated his Mork character early in his own career.As a film actor, Williams’s roles often influenced others, both in and out of the film industry.
Good Will Hunting is a 1997 American drama film directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver, and Stellan Skarsgård. Written by Affleck and Damon, and with Damon in the title role, the film follows 20-year-old South Boston laborer Will Hunting, an unrecognized genius who, as part of a deferred prosecution agreement after assaulting a police officer, becomes a patient of a therapist (Williams) and studies advanced mathematics with a renowned professor (Skarsgård). Through his therapy sessions, Will re-evaluates his relationships with his best friend (Affleck), his girlfriend (Driver), and himself, facing the significant task of thinking about his future.
Good Will Hunting received almost universal critical acclaim and was a financial success. It grossed over US$225 million during its theatrical run with only a modest $10 million budget. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture, and won two: Best Supporting Actor for Williams and Best Original Screenplay for Affleck and Damon.
News of Williams’s death spread quickly worldwide. The entertainment world, friends, and fans responded to his sudden death through social media and other media outlets. His wife, Susan Schneider, said: “I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken. Williams’s daughter Zelda responded to her father’s death by stating that the “world is forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter in his absence”.[U.S. President Barack Obama said of Williams: “He was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit.”
Williams died on the morning of August 11, 2014, at his home in Paradise Cay, California. On August 12, the Marin County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy coroner confirmed that Williams had hanged himself with a belt, dying from asphyxiation.