Robin McLaurin Williams
Born July 21st 1951
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Resting place : Cremated; ashes scattered in San Francisco Bay
Education : Claremont McKenna College College of Marin Juilliard School
Occupation : • Actor • singer • comedian
Years active : 1972–2014
Valerie Velardi (m. 1978; div. 1988)
Marsha Garces (m. 1989; div. 2010)
Susan Schneider (m. 2011)
Children : 3, including Zelda Williams
Comedy career : Medium : Stand-up, film, television
Genres : Observational comedy, improvisational comedy, physical comedy, political satire, self-deprecation, surreal humour
Website : robinwilliams.com
Archived from the original on August 12, 2014.
Died August 11th 2014
Paradise, Cay, U.S.A.
Cause of death: suicide by hanging
Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014) was an American actor and comedian. Born in Chicago, Williams began performing stand-up comedy in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the mid-1970s, and is credited with leading San Francisco's comedy renaissance. After rising to fame playing the alien Mork in the sitcom Mork & Mindy (spun off from the notorious Happy Days), Williams established a career in both stand-up comedy and feature film acting. He was known for his improvisation skills and the wide variety of memorable character voices he created. Williams has been called the funniest person of all time.
After his first starring film role in Popeye (1980), Williams starred in numerous films that achieved critical and commercial success, including The World According to Garp (1982), Moscow on the Hudson (1984), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), Awakenings (1990), Aladdin (1992), The Fisher King (1991), One Hour Photo (2002), and World's Greatest Dad (2009), as well as box office hits, such as Hook (1991), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumanji (1995), The Birdcage (1996), Good Will Hunting (1997), and the Night at the Museum trilogy (2006–2014).
Williams was nominated four times for the Academy Awards, winning once for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as psychologist Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting. He also received two Primetime Emmy Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and four Grammy Awards.
On August 11, 2014, Williams committed suicide in his Paradise Cay, California, home at the age of 63. His wife attributed his suicide to his struggle with Lewy body disease.
Robin was born on Saturday, July 21st, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois, a great-great-grandson of Mississippi Governor and Senator, Anselm J. McLaurin. His mother, Laurie McLaurin (née Janin), was a former model from Mississippi, and his father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams, was a Ford Motor Company executive from Indiana. Williams had English, German, French, Welsh, Irish, and Scottish ancestry.
During a television interview on Inside the Actors Studio in 2001, Williams credited his mother as an important early influence on his humor, and he tried to make her laugh to gain attention.
When Williams was 12, his father was transferred to Detroit. The family lived in a 40-room farmhouse on 20 acres in suburban Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where he was a student at the private Detroit Country Day School. He excelled in school, where he was on the school's soccer team and wrestling team, and was elected class president.
As both his parents worked, Williams was attended to by the family's maid, who was his main companion. When Williams was 16, his father took early retirement and the family moved to Marin County, settling in Tiburon, California. Following their move, Williams attended Redwood High School in nearby Larkspur. At the time of his graduation in 1969, he was voted "Most Likely Not to Succeed" and "Funniest" by his classmates.
Williams studied theatre for three years at the College of Marin, a community college in Kentfield, California. According to College of Marin's drama professor James Dunn, the depth of the young actor's talent became evident when he was cast in the musical Oliver! as Fagin. Williams often improvised during his time in the drama program, leaving cast members in hysterics. Dunn called his wife after one late rehearsal to tell her that Williams "was going to be something special".
In 1973, Williams attained a full scholarship to the Juilliard School (Group 6, 1973–1976) in New York City. He was one of 20 students accepted into the freshman class and one of two accepted by John Houseman into the Advanced Program at the school that year; the other was Christopher Reeve. William Hurt and Mandy Patinkin were also classmates. According to biographer Jean Dorsinville, Franklyn Seales and Williams were roommates at Juilliard. Reeve remembered his first impression of Williams when they were new students at Juilliard:
“ He wore tie-dyed shirts with tracksuit bottoms and talked a mile a minute. I'd never seen so much energy
contained in one person. He was like an untied balloon that had been inflated and immediately released.
I watched in awe as he virtually caromed off the walls of the classrooms and hallways. To say that he was
"on" would be a major understatement. “
Williams and Reeve had a class in dialects taught by Edith Skinner, who Reeve said was one of the world's leading voice and speech teachers. According to Reeve, Skinner was bewildered by Williams, who could instantly perform in many accents, including Scottish, Irish, English, Russian, and Italian. Their primary acting teacher was Michael Kahn, who was "equally baffled by this human dynamo". Williams already had a reputation for being funny, but Kahn criticized his antics as simple stand-up comedy. In a later production, Williams silenced his critics with his well-received performance as an old man in The Night of the Iguana by Tennessee Williams. "He simply was the old man," wrote Reeve. "I was astonished by his work and very grateful that fate had thrown us together."
Williams and Reeve remained close friends until Reeve's death in 2004. Reeve had struggled for years with being quadriplegic after a horse-riding accident. Their friendship was like "brothers from another mother" according to his son Zak Williams. Williams paid many of Reeve's medical bills and gave financial support to his family.
Wild improvised stream-of-consciousness comedy dialogue where he would do cultural references, impersonations and one-liners with rapid switching
Unique skill at imitating voices
Frequently played offbeat and eccentric characters
Frequently played fathers or family men
Often played characters lacking in self-awareness
Often played men who have suffered a trauma or loss
Often played characters with mental instability and/or a deep capacity for violence (One Hour Photo, Insomnia)
Distinctive low-pitched (and extremely versatile) voice
Clean shaven in comedies and bearded in dramatic films
Williams and Robert De Niro were the last stars to see John Belushi alive, albeit on separate visits to Bungalow #3 of the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles on the day Belushi died of a drug overdose in March 1982
Williams played both a fictional President in Man of the Year (2006) and a real-life one in Lee Daniels' movie The Butler (2013), where Williams was reunited with other famous names such as Cuba Gooding Junior (who also played with Williams in What Dreams May Come), Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Mariah Carey, and many, many more
He spoke French frequently
He checked himself into rehab to be treated for alcoholism. He had already overcome drug and alcohol addiction in the 1980s. He left rehab in September 2006
He recovered at the Cleveland (OH) Clinic after successful open-heart surgery on March 13, 2009, to replace his aortic valve
His role in August Rush (2007) was modeled after the character of Fagin from Oliver Twist (1948)