Sometimes listening to the news isn’t such a good thing. Robin Williams, star of stand-up and screens large and small, died yesterday of an apparent suicide.
I realize that this is pretty dark stuff for a website dedicated to what was once a child’s toy line. However, Robin Williams was one of those figures whose passing deserves mention. He was a dynamic tour-de-force– someone whose boundless energy couldn’t be contained by a mere stage and screen performance. Rather, it infected every single person in his audience and left them smiling.
From his early appearances as Mork on the sitcom Happy Days to his most recent television role on the cancelled CBS series The Crazy Ones he displayed a wit and an intelligence that was unparalleled among his peers. Growing up, I was amazed that the intricate tapestry of topics he wove in his landmark stand-up performance “A Night at the Met“. From the then-current state of the Middle East to his thoughts on fatherhood, he was capable of taking a performance from profane to profound in just a matter of moments. He wasn’t just a comedian whose routines relied on vulgarity but rather an intellectual who merely had no filters whatsoever.
A favorite role of mine was possibly one of his oddest career choices and yet one that perfectly embodied the limitless capabilities of this dynamic individual– that of the title character in Robert Altman’s 1980 musical comic adaptation Popeye. Universally panned by critics, Williams’ performance showed that the actor threw himself into the role 110% and the result is one of the most underrated moments in his career. While I enjoyed other films like Fisher King, Dead Poet’s Society, Good Morning Viet Nam, and even the World According to Garp, it was always Popeye that was a favorite. (With Toys being a close second.)
After a lifetime of battling depression, Mr. Williams ended his time on this earth yesterday. He was 63 years old. While comedians and actors rise in prominence all of the time, none will ever outshine the genius of Robin Williams.
So long, Robin. Thanks for the laughs and for the tears. You will be missed.