Williams began his entertainment career in the late 1970s, after leaving Juliard to pursue his dreams of stand-up comedy. His work has been described as being the start of a “comedy renaissance” on the west coast, and soon Williams found himself performing for millions on the comedy show “Laugh-In” (his first television performance). From here his career boomed, finding himself playing Mork in the show “Mork & Mindy” (1978-82), a role designed specifically for him and remaining mostly improvisational throughout its four year run. His role earned him an Emmy award nomination, and showcased his gift for being able to improvise long streams of dialogue on the spot.
His film career didn’t boom until 1987 with his first Oscar-nominated role in “Good Morning Vietnam”, a role that showed off Williams’ manic nature on screen, bringing a much needed charisma and energy that hadn’t been seen in Hollywood since the early roles of Jack Lemmon. His comedic charm continued in films like “Mrs. Doubtfire”, “Aladdin”, and “The Birdcage”, while he revealed dramatic nuance in his roles in “The Fisher King”, “Dead Poets Society”, and his Oscar winning role in “Good Will Hunting”. His later career revealed a darker side of Williams, portraying sociopaths and murderers in “One-Hour Photo” and “Insomnia”. His range of roles proved him to be one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood, one that few could match, and one that might not be matched for years to come.
Williams will be remembered as one of the kindest souls in the entertainment industry, supporting the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for many years, entertaining troops in the Middle East, and showing compassion and heart towards fans of all ages. His death is a tragedy, and an example of the effects of depression, which Williams had suffered from for many years. His death hits close to home, not just for myself, but also for millions of others who have encountered depression in their lives, and serves as a powerful reminder for those currently dealing with the illness.
Regardless, Williams was one of the most influential performers of his generation, and I’ll always remember growing up with his films, especially watching in awe of his role in “Aladdin”. He once said “you’re only given one little spark of madness, you mustn’t lose it”, and I don’t believe he ever lost his spark. He used that madness in every one of his roles, creating an absolutely genius legacy that won’t soon be forgotten. But perhaps the quote that will stick with me the most is from “Good Will Hunting”: “You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself.” Many loved Robin, and losing him is a hard idea to imagine, and a harder idea to live with. He was truly one of a kind. “Bangarang!” Robin. You’ll forever be missed.