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Academy Award winning actor and comedian Robin Williams dead at 63

Robin Williams died Monday morning from an apparent suicide, he was 63 years old. Best known for his manic stand-up comedy routines during his early career, as the iconic T.V. character Mork from Ork in the series "Mork and Mindy". He reinvented himself as a comedian and serious actor in the late eighties and nineties. Williams was nominated for four Academy Awards and finally won an Oscar in 1998 for Best Supporting Actor in the film "Good Will Hunting" in the role of Sean Maguire.

Life and times of Robin Williams.
Photo by Jason Merritt
Robin Williams
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Born on July 21, 1951 in the city of Chicago, Illinois; grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and in Marin County, California. In 1973 he attended the Julliard School along with freshmen Christopher Reeve (they both were accepted into the school's Advanced Program) and left in 1976 to pursue a career in stand-up improvisation. Robin Williams began his television show business career in 1977 and mentored under the guidance of Richard Pryor. He worked on the Pryor's NBC series "The Richard Pryor Show" as an actor/writer and after that show was cancelled he made an appearance as "Mork" in the sit-com "Happy Days".

The success of Mork led him to being casted in the "Happy Days" spin-off "Mork & Mindy" and made his starring theatrical debut in the film "Popeye" as the title character. The show was initially a huge success until it imploded after ego clashes and bad ratings. During this time his stand-up comedy became hugely popular and Williams recorded a couple of spoken word albums that sold quite well along with the Mork merchandise. During the end of "Mork & Mindy" he starred in several other films making the transition from television to the cinema with films such as "The World According to Garp", "The Survivors" and "Moscow on the Hudson" which earned him a 1985 Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical.

Robin Williams began to accept more serious dramatic roles and he earned his first of four Academy Award nominations for his role of Adrian Cronauer in the 1987 drama/comedy "Good Morning Vietnam". Two years later he would receive another Best Actor nomination for the role of John Keating in the 1989 film "Dead Poets Society". In 1991 he would receive another Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in the role of Parry in "The Fisher King". But he would have two wait seven more years to finally win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in the movie "Good Will Hunting".

Williams would periodically return to stand-up and he continued to act in a variety of projects such as "Mrs. Doubtfire", the voice of Genie in the Disney film "Aladdin", "Patch Adams", "Bicentennial Man", "Jumanji", "Toys", "Jack", "Nine Months", "The Birdcage", "Flubber", "Jakob the Liar" and "Robots". He would also play are darker roles in films such as "Insomnia", "One Hour Photo", and "Death to Smoochy". During the last twelve years of his life Robin Williams battled depression and alcoholism. In the late seventies and early eighties he had a serious drug addiction that he beat but relapsed around the turn of the century. His last project was his return to television in the series "The Crazy Ones" which lasted twenty-two episodes before being cancelled and he was working on five films before he died.

Robin Williams was a one-of-a-kind stand-up comedian and actor. His manic style of comedy has paved the way for many comics and he made the successful transition from television to the big screen. Williams also gave back to the community as he founded "Windfall Foundation" a charitable organization, dedicated his time and fundraising effort to "Comic Relief", St. Jude's Hospital and was a touring member of the U.S.O. He had an enormous heart who made us all laugh and he will be missed by all. He is survived by his three wives and three children.

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