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Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall honored at the Smithsonian

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President Obama and the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery honored beloved comedian and actor Robin Williams, whose death Aug. 11 at age 63 has been ruled a suicide by asphyxiation from hanging.

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"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," President Obama said in a White House statement Aug. 11.

"He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. 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. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams."

A photograph of the celebrated entertainer was mounted Aug. 12 in the first-floor gallery of the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, where the museum memorializes the deaths and celebrates the lives of people represented in the museum's collection.

The photograph celebrates his breakthrough role as that alien Mork in the 1970s TV comedy "Mork and Mindy". It was taken for "Time" magazine by Michael Dressler in 1979.

"Williams was a madcap genius in performances of all types of entertainment, from stand-up to feature films," the National Portrait Gallery said in its statement. "Known initially as a comedian, he surprised with his ability to play serious dramatic roles."

Williams worked tirelessly in show business, appearing in numerous feature films, including "Good Morning, Vietnam" (1987), "Dead Poets Society" (1989), and "Mrs. Doubtfire" (1993).

He won an Oscar® for his role as the psychologist in "Good Will Hunting" (1997). He also did voice-over work in animated films, and returned to television with "The Crazy Ones" (2013-14), cancelled after one season.

One of his roles was Teddy Roosevelt in "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" (2009). The third in this series, "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb" is among the four films he had finished before his death.

It's due to be released for the Christmas season: Robin Williams was a gift to all.

Another Hollywood star, Lauren Bacall, died Aug. 12 of a stroke at age 89.

The National Portrait Gallery, already displaying a photograph of Bacall in its "American Cool" exhibit, has "noted her passing with a small additional label" next to her stunning image by Alfred Eisenstaedt for "Life" Magazine in 1949. The exhibit, that also has an image of her first husband, Humphrey Bogart, continues through Sept. 7.

The NPG noted that Bacall "epitomized the down-to-earth glamour of Hollywood at its finest," and quoted the critic James Agee hailing her in 1944 as 'the toughest girl Hollywood has dreamed of in a long, long while,' combining 'a dancer's eloquence of movement, a fierce female shrewdness, and a special sweet-sourness.'"

Born and reared in Brooklyn, the daughter of Jewish immigrants, Bacall had worked as a model before director Howard Hawks brought her to Hollywood. She ignited the screen in her debut with Humphrey Bogart in "To Have and Have Not" (1944). They married in 1945, and starred together in four classic noir films. She was given an honorary Oscar® in 2009.

She also earned two of Broadway's Tony® Awards, for "Applause" (1970) and "Woman of the Year" (1981).

At 60, in 1986, she played a fading star in Tennessee Williams' "Sweet Bird of Youth". One critic described her as "slinky as a lynx, hot as pepper, cool as rain, dry as smoke."

"Her persona as a woman and an actress who was up for anything was confirmed by one of her last roles: a cameo on 'The Sopranos' in which she got punched in the face," the NPG added.

Washington's National Press Club also issued a statement "mourning the loss of an American classic, Lauren Bacall..."

The most famed photo of her was taken at the National Press Club where in February 1945, she perched upon a piano while then-Vice President Harry S. Truman played during one of the Club's many World War II canteens. Photos of this event appeared around the world, including in "Life" on May 17, 1945. It has become one of the most published photos in journalism history, the NPC said.

Truman's wife, Bess, however was not pleased by this image, according to David McCullough in his Pulitzer-Prize winning biography "Truman". In response to this image, Mrs. Truman told Mr. Truman that "he should play the piano in public no more."

Almost 70 years later, this piano still stands upright in the Club's Truman Lounge.

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