Yesterday, August 11, Robin Williams was found unconscious in his California home. The 63 year old actor had celebrated his daughter’s 25th birthday on July 31st. With his death, it has been openly revealed that the comedian had been battling depression and continued to strive for sobriety.
Robin Williams began his career as an improvisational actor which landed him the role of the delightful alien in the TV series “Mork & Mindy” (1978 – 1982). Films like Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) and Good Will Hunting (1997) proved his dramatic talent. In the 90’s, Williams reached a younger audience as the grown up Peter Pan in Hook and in a new form as the animated Genie of Disney’s Aladdin. He made his Broadway acting debut in Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo in 2011.
We read the news last night on Twitter and Facebook, and immediately Googled the actor for confirmation on the unbelievable news. We wanted to wish that it was a typo or a terrible hoax. It’s no surprise that his death has received a wave of reactions from fans and friends on social media. The remarks not only refer to mourning, but bring awareness to depression, as well. An unhappy comedian may sound like an oxymoron, but sometimes the biggest smiles can be hiding the darkest minds. In World’s Greatest Dad (2009), Williams’ character Lance said it best: “Suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems.”
One reason why this death may be so difficult on all of us is because Robin Williams spans generation. As kids, we watched his comedies with our parents. As we grew up, we watched his more mature pieces. As we grew up still, we went back to those family films with children of our own. Through each guise, he forced us to stand on our desks for a different view, he took our hands and pulled us outside of ourselves, and he dared us to question everything like a child. Robin Williams was like a nanny to us and therefore part of the family.
Williams recently returned to comedy television in “The Crazy Ones” co-starring with Sarah Michelle Gellar on CBS. Four months ago, the press revealed that Williams agreed to take part in the sequel of Mrs. Doubtfire (1993). That project will be at a standstill. However, we’ll see him reprise another role, President Roosevelt, in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. The third installment of the series will release this December, and we’ll be bringing tissues to the comedy film!
The only comfort we have today is that we’ll see him on the big screen again in a few months. Until then, we’ll be watching one performance after the other. “Oh, Captain, my captain,” you’ll be missed, but far from forgotten.