Today marks a tragic day in American pop culture. But, to say that Robin William’s passing only affects the realm of Americana is really an injustice to the icon’s memory. William’s was, as Barack Obama has described him, a “one of a kind.” He was a pioneer of comedy, film, theatre, television, and even humanitarian efforts, as he was a devoted member of Comic Relief for several years in a row.
Robin Williams is best known for many, many roles, ranging from the lighthearted and silly to the deeply touching. There’s Hook, Jumanji, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Birdcage, Dead Poet’s Society, Good Will Hunting, Patch Adams – just to name a few – and a whole slew of voice acting roles such as Genie in Aladdin.
Williams was born in Chicago on July 21, 1951 and studied theater at the Juilliard School before taking his stand-up comedy act to nightclubs. He was cast as Mork, an alien visitor to Earth, for a 1974 episode of television’s “Happy Days.” This was to become a spin-off show called Mork and Mindy and it was a hit.
Williams wasn’t without personal turmoil. He was a recovering addict, having been to rehab at least twice in his lifetime, the most recent time being this summer. Since the discovery of his death, William’s agent has since said that he was struggling recently with severe depression. I can’t help but think of a quote of his I came across some time ago, “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, it’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel alone” and wonder, perhaps this is how he felt in the last moments leading him to take his life.
At 63, Williams was found unconscious and unresponsive in his California home which he shares with his third wife. “An investigation into the cause, manner and circumstances of the death is currently underway by the Investigations and Coroner Divisions of the Sheriff’s Office,” the sheriff’s statement said.
The sheriff added, “Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made. “An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.”
With having been back in rehab so recently, one can only consider that Williams was still struggling with substance abuse, which could have been a contributing factor in his depression as of late. That and, as the saying goes, “The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.” Robin Williams was such a bright light; a bigger-than-life talent. He is only one of a select few that could transcend slapstick humor, to become a true philosopher, successfully pulling off both goofy and profound depth.
Williams had a way of combining weighty topics with humor, so as to perhaps make them a little easier to handle. For instance, the comic genius said that “Death is nature’s way of saying, ‘your table is ready.’
He will be deeply missed for the light he was in the world. Good Sir, your table is ready.