The passing of Robin Williams has had a dramatic effect on my life. I grew up knowing his comedy, his poignant drama and his manic interviews. I’d even recorded a Jay Leno appearance about a decade ago anticipating he would totally rock during his segment. I’m thankful I still have that interview as my own memory of the man who brought so much laugher in my life.
I postponed today’s scheduled Freedom Friday post until next week because I wanted to capture my feelings about an artist who will forever remain in my heart.
The first time I saw Robin Williams was when he starred in a bit part on Happy Days back in the 70’s. Gosh, it seems so long ago. You probably know the story, since many of the news organizations have already reported his life in the media. To me, though, the first time I saw him on the show, playing a visiting alien from Ork, I never had forgotten how much I’d laughed. How can I push his antics from my memory? It’s an impossible task. Henry Winkler who played The Fonz once said Williams could take a line, a word, whatever, process and spit it out different every time. And in each instance, the line, word, whatever was funnier than the last. He attributed Williams’ talent to greatness.
He eventually got his own show with actress Pam Dawber as the latter half of Mork and Mindy. Two things I remember of that era. First, I had such a massive crush on Pam Dawber. Seriously. Massive. I won’t go into the details. Second, the day after every episode, the kids in the schoolyard would greet each other with “nanoo nanoo”. That was how aliens from Ork said hello. I know, strange. But it’s true. We did that.
Into high school, I loved seeing him in movies such as The World According to Garp and The Survivors. Williams’ impression of a Russian immigrant in Moscow on the Hudson blew me away. If I didn’t know better, he had spent the better part of his life in Russia. What I remember about those three movies was not so much the plots, but his portrayal of the characters. They were all different, with their own quirks and temperaments. He certainly had a way with delivering his lines. I’ll miss that the most.
You know, I can sit here writing about all his other movies like Dead Poets Society, Cadillac Man and Awakenings. But that would sound like I’m prattling on without substance. The joy I received from Williams’ roles was his ability to touch me in a way no other actor/performer has. I will fondly remember his sentimental roles the most, such as Patch Adams where he played a doctor who treats his patients with humor.
As I memorialize my thoughts of him, I can’t help to think of his gracious heart.
Mr. Williams, I will always miss you.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.
What do you remember of Robin Williams’ work? When did you find out about his passing?