The ‘great’ ones should never leave us this way. Not when there is still work to do and lives to touch, which for Robin Williams came all too easy in his illustrious career that included one Academy Award, two Emmy’s, four Golden Globe's, two SAG Awards and five Grammy’s. At least, it seemed that way until recently when it all came to a tragic end, leaving questions for his family and friends to answer. News like that is hard to accept, must less try to make sense of, which is why this will be a time to remember what Robin brought to the world. And while there will continue to be heartfelt reactions and statements made in the coming weeks, President Obama might have summarized it best in a brief White House press release after hearing the news,
“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But 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. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most - from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets.”
Well put and really why this is more than just another Hollywood star losing their life. Because what Williams did outside of entertainment was just as big as what he did inside it. That’s why this hurts twice as much and really why it’s hard for someone like me to put it into words. I was hardly Robin Williams’ biggest fan, but respected everything he did in and out of Hollywood for the better part of 36 years forcing me into this column for the second time this year to lift up a life of a man gone too soon.
Did you know…Robin Williams did numerous stand-up comedy tours outside what he did in film? Most people relate Williams to what he did on TV and on the big screen, but to me he was fully in his element when he did stand-up. Williams was a people-person and loved to give back, so being in front of a large crowd telling jokes probably gave him the most joy. He had a host of tours dating back to the 70’s, with the most recent being in 2009 dubbed ‘Weapons of Self-Destruction” that was seen in over 25 cities. I can still remember watching the Robin Williams LIVE on Broadway special for the first time on DVD and crying because I was laughing so hard. That’s why when I will think of him, I will go straight to his stand-up work that spanned virtually his entire career. And according to IMDB.com, I’m not alone, as he was voted 13th on Comedy Central’s 2004 list of “100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time” which speaks volumes about his overall comedic talent.
You might be shocked to learn…Robin Williams and Disney had a couple public disputes over the years. It all goes back to “Aladdin” when Williams told Disney, because of the success of “Good Morning Vietnam,” he only wanted to be paid the base SAG salary of $75,000 with one condition; which was that his name or image not be used for marketing and his supporting character not take up more than 25% of the space on advertising artwork. This according to a 1993 LA Times article that also mentioned Williams believing his voice in “Aladdin” was his property and did not want it imitated. For an actor that respected his craft he way he did, I have no issue with that, but Disney did and went against Williams on both his initial requests. So, naturally the two parted ways and the next two “Aladdin” films without Williams went straight to DVD instead of being released into theaters. Several years later after reconciling, Williams stared in the underwhelming “Bicentennial Man” which bombed at the box office creating the second fallout, which Williams evidently believed was due to Disney cutting the film’s budget by $20 million affecting how it was marketed. Ironically 10 years later, Williams reconciled again, this time agreeing to be inducted as a Disney Legend that recognizes people who have made a significant contribution to The Walt Disney Company.
In his own words – No matter how you will choose to remember Robin Williams, he was loved by many and respected by virtually anyone he came into contact with. His contribution to this world cannot be understated which is why I wanted to leave you with some of Williams’ best quotes put together by IMDB.com:
“Comedy is acting out optimism”
When speaking to troops in Iraq Williams said, “I’m looking at a group of heavily armed people here. I’m telling myself, “If you’re not funny, it’s a problem.”
“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it”
“A woman would never make a nuclear bomb. They would never make a weapon that kills, no,no. They’d make a weapon that makes you feel bad for a while.”
“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.”
“Ballet: Men wearing pants so tight that you can tell what religion they are.”
“Australians are basically English rednecks. If Darwin had landed in Australia, he would have gone: “I’m wrong.”
During his acceptance speech for winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in “Good Will Hunting,” Williams said “Most of all I want to thank my father up there, the man when I said I wanted to be an actor, he said, “Wonderful. Just have a back-up profession like welding.”
“I went to rehab in wine country just to keep my options open.”
“There’s so much to talk about. The fact that Donald Trump wants to see Obama’s birth certificate. I want to see his hairline first.”
“Canada is like a loft apartment over a really great party.”
“Men can’t fake an orgasm, who wants to look that dumb, you know what I’m saying?”
When speaking about acting, Williams said “All the new people you meet, it’s pretty amazing. The vampire needs new blood. And there is still a lot to learn and there is always great stuff out there. Even mistakes can be wonderful.”
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