As tributes continue to pour in for late comedian and actor Robin Williams, Middletown, Delaware is among the communities mourning the loss of the star. A makeshift memorial has popped up outside the Everett Theatre on Main Street where Williams filmed part of the movie “Dead Poets Society” more than 25 years ago.
Many locals placed bouquets of flowers outside the theatre where portions of the movie were filmed and where many people caught a glimpse of the actor in and out of character. Some residents remembered how Williams mixed and mingled with them when the cameras were not rolling and some recollected what it was like to see the star acting out scenes in the movie.
Middletown Mayor Ken Branner says Williams would often walk around town when the cameras and crew took a lunch break. Branner says Williams would grab a bagged lunch and stroll through the quaint Delaware town stopping and talking with residents.
One of those residents was Scott Lawrence. Then a recent University of Delaware graduate and volunteer at the Everett Theatre, Lawrence recalls speaking with Williams over a cup of coffee in the theatre’s lobby. Now owner of Middletown Seafood, Lawrence said the actor was very likeable and was interested in the community as well as the history of the Everett Theatre.
And apparently Williams never seemed to forget the people of Middletown or the Everett Theatre. As the community came together in April to mark the 25th anniversary of the release of “Dead Poets Society,” Williams was invited to attend the gala at the Everett but had to back out of the event because he was filming the latest installment of the “Night of the Museum” franchise. The weekend of the anniversary fundraiser Williams had to be in England and was not able to return to Delaware for the event. So instead he signed some posters for the movie which were used at an auction at the theatre.
Organizers of the anniversary party however kept Seat 104, Row G in the Everett open just in case Williams would make a surprise appearance. The red fold down theatre seat is where Williams sat during a scene in the filming of “Dead Poets Society.”
The Everett Theatre is just one of a few places in the Middletown area paying tribute to the late actor. Saint Andrew’s School, which beat out more than 100 schools in the First State to serve as the setting for Welton Academy, released a statement mourning Williams’ death. In the statement the school said “along with the rest of the world, St. Andrew’s mourns the death of Robin Williams. A large part of the genius that was Robin Williams emerged from his audience’s belief that this man connected with us, knew us, celebrated us, lived with us, laughed with us.”
The statement goes on to say that “we found inspiration from Williams depiction of a revolutionary and passionate classroom teacher, but we who were on campus in those days were so struck in particular by the grace of director Peter Weir and the spirit and vitality of Robin Williams.” Filming at St. Andrew’s last about 40 days.
“Dead Poets Society” was released by the Walt Disney Company’s Touchstone Pictures and earned Williams’ an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Filming took ten weeks in and around Middletown and pumped about $8 million into the state’s economy. More than 1,000 state residents were used as actors, extras, scouts and crew in the movie.