Unlikely as it seems, it has already been one year since the world learned the sad fate of actor/comedian Robin Williams, who died of self-inflicted strangulation on August 11, 2014. It took me a couple of hours to accept the assignment of remembering him for Geek News Network when it became available today because even though it was a year ago, it still feels like a raw nerve.
This is going to be a different kind of article for me. For one, although I didn’t know him, I can’t seem to call him “Mr. Williams.” So for the rest of this excursion, I’ll just call him Robin. I loved him, you see. He was a treat to watch and listen to and he will remain Robin for me…because, really, he often made my soul soar like a robin on the wind.
As well, I’m going to remember Robin in many of his roles without listing his full filmography by title. I hope that will allow you to think about some of your favorites and maybe look for some of those that aren’t as familiar to you.
I first met Robin on TV’s Happy Days as an intergalactic traveler from the planet Ork, who came to Earth of the 1950’s and tries to take Richie Cunningham home as a human specimen before Fonzie saves the day. The appearance led to his own show, Mork & Mindy, and Robin’s career was off and running.
There was the writer whose Mother in part shapes his cockeyed view of the world…the Sailor Man who comes ashore to find his missing Pappy and finds a home…the Russian musician who defects in the middle of New York’s Bloomingdales…the loser at life who wants redemption by re-playing and winning the big football game from high school…the disc jockey whose manic escapades lead to delight and tragedy in Vietnam…Captain, My Captain!…the doctor who helps patients asleep for years return to consciousness…a homeless man who fights dragons in Central Park…the grown up Peter Pan…the Genie who longs to be free…the divorced man who dresses as a English housekeeper to spend more time with his kids…a boy who grows and survives inside an adventure board game…a gay cabaret owner whose son wants to marry into an ultra-straight family… a young boy whose body grows old due to a disorder…the scientist who creates Flubber…a doctor who uses laughter as medicine…a Jewish shop keeper whose lies create hope in the Polish ghettos of World War II…an android whose 200 year journey leads to humanity…a comedian who somehow gets himself elected President of the United States, or does he?…a statue of a real President, who only comes to life at night…a man who runs an ad agency with his daughter…there were so many other roles, of course. And so many that will never be. But it is with the reflection of time that reveals something about those roles. Many of them are looking for something missing in their lives. Trying to make their world better.
And to watch Robin do his stand-up was just breathtaking…often because it was sometimes hard to breathe from laughing so hard. Like his idol, Jonathan Winters, Robin could go off on a stream-of-conscious rambling that could make me laugh like a madman! But like Winters and many of his comic brethren, there often was a sadness to their frivolity. To know now that Robin was hurting inside so badly that he couldn’t bear the thought of living life any longer is something that I have tried not to imagine while watch the amazing lives that he did create on television and film and the laughs he created in his stand-up.
But I do.
It is in one of Robin’s smallest roles as the hologram with all the answers, Dr. Know, from Artificial Intelligence (2001), that I find a beautiful reading by him of part of William Butler Yeats’ “The Stolen Child” that has imprinted itself in my feelings for Robin and how I miss him:
Come away O human child
To the waters and the wild
With a fairy hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand.
The fact is, there will never be any new live action performances from Robin as the last of those have been released and his final vocal performance will be as Dennis the dog in Absolutely Anything, a new comedy from Monty Python’s Terry Jones, which is due out on September 4th.
And then Robin Williams will only live in our memories…remember him well.
If you or someone you know is having difficulty when emotional or physical pain overwhelms coping resources, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org . With over 120 crisis centers across the country, their mission is to provide immediate assistance to anyone seeking mental health services. Call for yourself, or someone you care about. Your call is free and confidential.