Posted in Freedom Friday

Robin Williams

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.

Robin Williams comedy album Weapons of Self Destruction promo shot
Robin Williams comedy album Weapons of Self Destruction promo shot

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.

Robin Williams featured in The Wrap
Robin Williams featured in The Wrap

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.

Robin Williams at River Rock Show Theatre
Robin Williams at River Rock Show Theatre

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.


What do you remember of Robin Williams’ work? When did you find out about his passing?


Jack Flacco is an author and the founder of Looking to God Ministries, an organization dedicated to spreading the Word of God through outreach programs, literature and preaching.

33 thoughts on “Robin Williams

  1. It was right after Jeopardy at 8pm or so when I & my mother learned of his passing & were in total shock as a result. I was on the internet momentarily posting a blog post in memory of him while my Facebook feed was rather filled with friends & other people posting their shock over his death & favourite moments of him. Me personally, I will remember him for his appearance as Mrs. Doubtfire & his love of video gaming, particularly his love of the Legend of Zelda games to the point of naming his daughter after the titular character.

  2. Well said, Jack! Robin Williams’s passing came as a heartbreaking shock to me. He was an excellent actor, a comedic genius and he will be deeply missed. I grew up watching his movies, and no matter the role he played, he was a marvel to watch.

  3. Robin Williams was always one of those wonderful actors who always seemed to be in the things we watched. Of course, I watched reruns of Mork and Mindy, Aladdin, Dead Poet’s Society – and so, so much more. I saw the notice from HuffPost right away – I’m signed up for their entertainment news for my podcast – and I just stared at it, not believing it at all. He will be greatly missed, and all I can do is pray for peace for him, as well as his family.

  4. I barely remember Mork and Mindy. I believe by the time I was born in ’83 and started watching tv, it was in reruns. It wasn’t until Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, and Hook, still in my top 10 favourite, that I realized what a tremendous, humorous, and comedic gift from God Robin Williams was. As a matter of fact, I am watching Popeye on Netflix and boy, was Robin Williams quite a dashing young man! I was unaware he had a drug problem and was as shocked about that as I was about his tragic passing. Would his drug of choice explain his erratic, seemingly scatter-brained behavior I wonded? I was just recently made alight that he was alcoholic and was in treatment for said problem as early as last year. With the scary diagnoses of Parkinson’s and it’s possible handicapping effects in the future, alcohol acting as a downer, cocaine as a upper(provided it was in system at TOD) and being depressed at the same time, it is no wonder that all he saw in his future is doom and gloom and his prognosis not good in regards to the Parkinson’s, that he felt the only way out was taking his life and sparing not only himself but his family pain. Please remember this is only speculative. I feel very bad for Robin Williams and the pain he felt and I cannot even begin to imagine the pain his family is feeling. I pray that Robin Williams has found the peace he was seeking. I myself, was truly devastated, upset, and very disappointed. I never saw the pain and anguish behind the mask of jokes and laughs of the man who said funny things, pulled gags, bounced around doing funny things and made people laugh. The world will be a little bit more emptier and less humorous because the great and funny Robin Williams has moved on. Rest in Peace, Robin Williams. You will be sorely missed.

    1. Sometimes the most brilliant, creative, energetic people have the most ” demons ” to exorcise. I likened him in an earlier comment to Vincent van Gogh, who was also very troubled, yet creative with a brilliant imagination.

  5. Sadly, many of us are part of that conspiracy of silence, you know, where we never talk about certain things. As soon as one person gets into “I’m feel like this and maybe that’s a problem, I don’t know” they get added to an unspoken black list. You can’t say that – it means you are crazy, weird, looking for excuses, etc. and not a fully functioning hugely upright (“normal”) member of society (oops – did I just say “upright” and “member” in the same sentence? That’s bad…).

    ALSO, it tends to get “medicalized.” Instead of saying “That’s part of the braod spectrum of humanity, and – yes – some people do experience their reality that way,” we rush to prescribe something. That’s a numbing thought. Imagine prescribing away Mork from Ork. Or Mr. Keating.

    Hyperactivity, manic depression, whatever the cause, Robin Williams seemed so hugely energetic that he would likely have blown most of us away if left in the room with him. And that’s okay for a person if they’re up, if they’re working. But they can never talk about it. And – if and when the pendulum’s swinging the OTHER way – well, then they have to hide. No one can see the dark side of the divine madness of a person like Robin Williams. He knew society was judgemental. If he felt he had a problem, he probably also felt there weren’t many people he could trust with that intelligence.

    I feel like the way society’s going these days that people are getting more and more closed to the idea of other people expressing emotion in general. Anger is a good example – very frowned upon (women showing it get called a nasty name usually). I suppose people are just worried about their own safety. We see so much crazy stuff going on th world nowadays. Just it’s a shame that even a “crazy in a good way” like Robin Williams had has to hide because of this too.

    1. I think of people like Robin Williams as ” Nonconformists “. Society still has trouble accepting such people who don’t fit the norm.
      I’m reminded of an episode of the ” new ” ” Doctor Who ” where The Doctor meets Vincent van Gogh. Everybody looks down on Vincent as ” Mad ” or even ” possessed “. The Doctor gets some insight & is able to help him, buut when he & his companion ( Amy Pond ) return to the present, they findout that he still committed suicide.
      Robin Williams was not unlike Vincent van Gogh, in his own way.

      1. I love that episode! Kinda think Robin Williams picked his own time to go, though. Unike Van Gogh, he was a very functional person. Wonder if other issues will come out in days to come, like this Parkinsons thing. Perhaps he simply looked in the crstal ball and didn’t like where he thought he saw himself in other 10 years, y’know?

      2. It seems like if you’re gifted with creativity, you sometimes pay a high price for it, like emotional instability, substance abuse, relationship issues, among other things. A lot of highly creative & talented people, from van Gogh to Beethoven, to John Coltrane to John Belushi & Robin Williams, have paid a high price for their talent. However, I wouldn’t say that it’s TOO HIGH a price.

  6. Ouch! You hit a nerve! Steve Martin needs to live for a really, really long time now (and write some more books!). He has so many talents! I’m a huge admirer of his. Let’s not talk about anything happening to him yet please!

    1. I’ve heard where Steve Martin could become just an ” average Joe ” upon leaving a stage at one of his concerts. Robin Williams couldn’t just turn his comedic talent off then back on again any more than Superman could stop being able to leap tall buildings in a single bound or be faster than a speeding bullet.

      1. I believe that! I saw Ray Charles in concert once. He came on the stage crazy – a campy send-up version of himself (he was SO iconic, I guess!). The show was phenom – one of the best I’ve ever seen! – but when Ray Charles went off the stage (I could see him in the wings from where I was sitting), he turned back into an elderly blind man. A handler took his arm and he hobbled off. He looked exhausted. So – all that extroversion – it was all part of the act. Steve Martin strikes me like that too (at least part of him is a genuine introvert), which is maybe part of why I like him so much I think. Robin Williams didn’t strike me like that at all. He struck me as more of an uncontrollable force. Maybe something HE couldn’t even control. Perhaps he was even exhausting and scary to HIMSELF sometimes (who knows?). It must have been a burden sometimes to be made that way.

      2. I’m not an expert ( HARDLY ) even though I took some medical & psychological courses in college, but I kind of think that RW might’ve had a certain level of ADD / ADHD, or just hyperactivity. I don’t know if he’d been that way all of his life & made it work FOR him or not. I’ve worked with a couple of young adults whom I had to constantly remind to focus & 1 young man who was ** very ** hyperactive. I do wonder if Robin Williams was hyperactive, & maybe it led to his drug & alcohol abuse.

  7. Yeah, his passing leaves a big hole in humanity, that’s for certain. My daughter (who’s almost 4 now) has been a Mork and Mindy fan for the past year and a bit. She calls the show “Na -noo Na-noo” though. 🙂 I don’t know how many times I’ve explained to her that, however long she tries, she’s never REALLY going to be able to drink her milk with her finger…

    We are lucky to have so many of his shows, films, stand-up routines, etc. to watch over and over, a huge legacy really. And that’s fortunate ’cause I haven’t crossed paths with anyone this week who seems unaffected by his passing. It’s pretty universal. Makes me wonder if he could have known how important he was to us all. Something about him got right to the heart of the human condition, and most all us recognized or felt that. An affinity for the man. This is possibly the largest outpouring I’ve seen at the passing of any public figure in my lifetime. Up there with Elvis and John Lennon. Everyone’s in shock.

    1. I should go back on Youtube & re – watch some of his comedy routines. Some of them are based on his life experiences. Comedy Central should devote some time to airing some of them as well as his past movies. He could do ” blue humor “, but he WAS capable of doing stand – up where he didn’t have to be every 5 minutes. I LOVED ” Good Morning Vietnam ” as well as ” Aladdin “.
      Even though he himself wasn’t in it, I remember a Family Guy episode where Peter Griffin wishes everyone could be like Robin Williams. Of course, it’s a classic case of ” Be careful what you wish for….. ” ! 🙂

      1. Not everyone can be as talented as Robin Williams, Steve Martin, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, etc., you’ve got to have SOME diversity !

  8. Who did not grow up with Mork & Mindy?! He was intense in his roles. I cannot think of anything I didn’t like…
    I learned about his demise on the following day. Occasionally, it takes a little time for information to reach Europe.

  9. Celebrity deaths don’t get me worked up most of the time, but his hit me almost as hard as a close friend, and I did not even know him. But the laughter and joy he brought me and millions of others really choked me up when I learned when he died and how he died. It really made me sad this week. I will miss him..There are still a few movies of his I have not watched, I will be able to keep him alive for a while longer.

  10. I also remember that episode of Happy Days when Ritchie dreamt of an alien arriving in town, then at the end of the episode Williams reappears as a delivery man. (I think I’ve remembered that right!)

    Mork and Mindy was one of those childhood tv programmes where everything stopped when it came on. William’s comic performance as Mork gave no indication of the serious acting talent to follow, such as in Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society and Awakenings. His stand up comedy was electrifying.

    And all the time he had issues he struggled to deal with. Quite baffling, which makes his death all the more tragic. No one on the outside saw it coming. The only consolation is that we’re left with a lot of incredible memories of a very talented man.

  11. A while ago, my world was rocked by the passing of the comic genius of Jonathan Winters, a gentle soul encompassing a thousand personalities. And now, the second blow has arrived with the death of his comedic son Robin Williams.

    While Mork & Mindy had a profound impact on my formative comedic mind (and we appear to have similar taste in women), it was Robin’s album “Reality, what a concept” that truly exploded my brain, my heart and my soul. To throw yourself into that comedic woodchipper is to come out completely changed.

    Many people I know were put off by his comedy, although I would suggest it was merely his lightning-in-a-bottle delivery that frightened them. Had they heard the words and ideas within the chaos, been able to grasp the poetry and dance of his mind, they would have witnessed a thing of beauty. Buried within the chainsaw camouflage of his stage act were the seeds of his future film roles that grasped our hearts: Patch Adams, John Keating, Parry, Armand Goldman, Adrian Cronauer and Terribly Sexy (T.S.) Garp.

    I feel blessed to have experienced the grace of two comedic giants…men of incredible wit and soul…so I am loathe to say that we won’t find another like them in the future. Rather, I’d say we will be incredibly lucky when the heir emerges.

  12. Robin Williams was supremely talented. I received 15 text messages from my family members when he died. That has never happened with any other celebrity. He truly touched a lot of people’s lives.

  13. Robin Williams was one of those incredibly talented people who I always felt would have worn me out in a few minutes by just being in the room with me; still, so many of his screen performances are just priceless. I guess my favorite is Adrian Kronauer in Good Morning Viet Nam, but his role in Death To Smoochy (a totally underrated film) is fascinating; talk about weird.

    1. Hm. Not familiar with that last movie.
      I heard that in the movie ” One Hour Photo “, he was really major league creepy.
      I like to think I’m creative. Maybe I am. but not like him. No freakin’ way.

  14. I remember reading, many years ago, a personal account by Jerry Lewis where he was about to commit suicide or else seriously contemplating it. He heard the sound of his children laughing, & that kept him following through on his act. Maybe if something similar had happened to Robin Williams, or he had just thought about the people whose burdens he had lightened or the happiness he’d brought to other people, we wouldn’t be discussing his passing today in this blog.

  15. I found out about his passing the night of, I can say it hit me hard but not as hard as another passing but i have grown up on his work with Mrs. Doubtfire, Aladdin, Patch Adams, Jack, Jumanji, RV, Hook, Popeye, Flubber, Robots and Happy feet. As you can tell i loved most of his movies. He will always be in my heart.

    Thank you for your post i loved reading every word of it.

  16. It’s a shame that a man who brought so much sheer happiness, joy, positive energy & other things couldn’t chain up & conquer his own inner demons. As the late Christopher Reeve said of him in an Esquire interview : ” Robin Williams is a gift to the world “.

    I remember him from Mork & Mindy, but also ” Good Morning Vietnam “, ” Mrs. Doubtfire “, & ” Aladdin “.
    He kept the news that he had been recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s private.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.