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Info 101: Robin Williams (1951-2014) A commentary

Robin Williams (r) in one of his greatest roles during his incredible career.
1997: Miramax: non-free use of poster to depict subject of article with no intent to compete with or hinder copyright owner in any way.

Robin Williams was a very funny man, an extremely hard-working comedian and actor. His demeanor was quiet and humble until he got onstage and turned on his zany, improvisational side and then he was non-stop hilarious. In a career that essentially began on "Happy Days" in 1978 as Mork from Ork, he tried hard to keep his audiences laughing, dedicating his energy to living up to the standards established by his own hero, Jonathan Winters. But Robin Williams fought with many demons, battles that were largely hidden from his fans. Drugs, alcohol and severe depression were three of those demons and on Aug. 11, 2014, Robin Williams lost his battle against those demons and took his own life.

The news came as a stunning shock to those of us who'd watched him mature and explore many kinds of roles. It was so out of the blue that many people didn't believe it at first. It was the kind of joke Williams would find funny. But it was no joke. For whatever reason, he had chosen suicide as the only hope for dealing with his problems. He had been sober for over twenty years until falling off the wagon recently and seeking help at a clinic in Minnesota.

In a conversation with Tom Barnard on the KQRS Morning Show this morning (Tues., Aug. 12, 2014), fellow comedian/actor Louie Anderson tried to make sense out of Williams' decision. In a voice that cracked at times, a subdued Anderson said, "I can't explain why he would do a thing like this. We weren't friends as such, we didn't hang out or anything but he was always a great guy to me. I enjoyed watching him work."

Anderson and Barnard both suffer from depression and understand some of Williams' mindset. They considered the possibility that Robin had recently changed meds and perhaps gotten the wrong dosage. "It's tricky at times," Anderson said. "The medication can play with your head but it can be corrected."

The fact remains that, for Robin Williams, the laughter stopped and whatever voices spoke to him in those final moments did not dissuade him from the choice he had made. It's a sad end to a great career that made so many people laugh and feel good. All that's left is to hope that the family he left behind can cope with what happened and not blame themselves. All of his fans offer their condolences and support in the aftermath of such a tragic day.

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