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VMAs, Emmys pay tribute to Robin Williams: News tributes more exploratory

Billy Crystal and Robin Williams shown five years ago together at "World's Greatest Dad" premier.
Billy Crystal and Robin Williams shown five years ago together at "World's Greatest Dad" premier.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

On Monday night comedian and actor Billy Crystal will depart from his humorous monologue's of times past in order to pay somber tribute to former comedian and fellow actor extraordinaire Robin Williams, who, to the great anguish of his family, friends and fans, committed suicide earlier this month, at the age of 63. But the Emmys is not the only entity taking a closer look at the recently deceased actor, and some of the revelations are raising new questions.

ABC News reports on August 25 that Sunday night the VMAs honored Williams, doing so through a photo montage shown more than half way through the televised annual festivities. And so it stands to reason the Emmys would plan to follow up this evening with their own version of a tribute. TV's 66th annual version of the Oscars will continue the tradition of its "in memoriam" portion of the primetime program by having Robin's friend and fellow actor-comedian Billy Crystal honor the apparent suicide victim on their Monday night broadcast.

And it was pointed out by the Business Insider that, coincidentally, the Emmy role actually fell to Williams last year, when he was asked to speak about the passing of Jonathan Winters, another famous comedian, who was also Williams' former "Mork and Mindy" colleague.

It seems a little eerie that Williams would speak about the passing of one comedian last year and then be the comedian spoken about this year, for sure. And Robin Williams may have seemed like the last person in the world who might be depressed enough to contemplate suicide, let alone commit the act, since his humorous bent was well known by fans the world over and celebrated in his many professional accomplishments. And that could explain why his friend and fellow actor-comedian Rob Schneider sought to attribute the unexpected death of this celebrity to prescription medication prescribed for Williams following his recent diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.

But Schneider came under blast by doctors after making his Parkinsons drug tweet on the matter. And that was due in part to the fact that Williams had experienced other medical challenges in his past, namely substance abuse issues, which cannot be completely ruled out as contributing factors in his untimely death until toxicology screens are complete and reported.

In a recent August report from the Pacific Standard (The Science of Society), we learn that Williams had this to say in the past after appearing on a magazine cover for a story about medication:

I was branded manic-depressive. Um, that's clinical, I'm not that. Do I perform sometimes in a manic style? Yes. Am I manic all the time? No. Do I get sad? Oh yeah. Does it hit me hard? Oh yeah."

Yet Robin Williams never admitted publicly to any type of mental illness diagnosis if he did have bipolar disorder or suffer from depression or some other mental illness, as the Pacific Standard vaguely alludes to.

This News Tribune writer, who happens to suffer from the manic-depressive mental illness himself (although to a much lesser degree than many), thinks that Williams' character's behavior in "Mork and Mindy" and "Good Morning Vietnam" supports the hypothesis that Williams may have been manic during the filming of those roles. So he has his doubts that Robin Williams lived without mental illness.

Many in the entertainment and news communities are exploring how the stigma of mental illness may have played a role in Robin Williams' death--or be brought into the light as a result of it. And while the stigma of mental illness prevents celebrities and others from seeking the help they need in managing their mental health, Williams had sought outside assistance in managing his substance abuse issues. So he may have gotten help with any alleged mental illness as well.

But sometimes it is not stigma that prevents the mentally ill from receiving and taking prescription medications. Sometimes it is the individuals desire not to see their personalities change into the robotic mode that those on such medications can expect to experience. So if Robin Williams was diagnosed secretly with bipolar disorder at one time in his life, and if he did take the medication treatment prescribed for it, then he may have concluded that he could no longer remain commercially viable as an actor and comedian while taking it.

And that, not stigma, would then be the need of focus on how to keep mentally ill people on their medications. As people currently taking other medical prescriptions, like diabetes and heart disease medications, would not continue to do so either if those prescriptions drastically changed their personalities too, or limited the creativity needed in order to do their jobs. Right?

For a list of famous people with mental illness click here.