Kids in the 70’s knew him as Mork from Ork. The wacky alien who visited Richie and the Fonz on Happy Days was given his own spin-off and a foothold in modern popular culture. The irreverent personae of Mork could have condemned Robin Williams to sit-com obscurity, but his talent and energy overcame the potential “one-trick-pony” brand.
A comedic actor with a rubbery Puckish smile, Williams became famous in his early days for his boundless kinetic antics. The ups and downs of his career read like a spastic polygraph, with high spikes and peaks in accolades mixed with plateaus of repetition.
Williams received scores of award nominations with multiple wins. Most notably, he was awarded the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s career launching Good Will Hunting. He also won five Golden Globes and two Emmys.
I remember Robin Williams as a pure talent. His love and enthusiasm for his work resonated through every performance. He could make an audience laugh until they were doubled over in pain, then make them think and feel with great depth.
In a bit of dark irony, one of the most recent performances I saw from Williams was from an appearance on Louie. In the episode, Williams and Louis CK were the only mourners to attend a mutual “friend’s” funeral. It’s revealed that the deceased had no friends, but the episode ended with Louie and Robin promising to attend each other’s funerals. I take some comfort in knowing Williams did other projects beyond that… but it’s still chilling.
Early reports of his death are filled with speculation, so I won’t add to it. All I can say is he will be missed.
Robin Williams. Dead at 63. Gone before his time.