Robin Williams had entertained audiences since his rise to stardom in the 1970s. The Hypable staff remembers and honors Williams for his contributions over the past five decades.
Williams was more than just a joke machine or a funny guy. He was a humanitarian, a true friend, and by all accounts a kind soul who will be missed by many.
He started his career at the Julliard School of Drama where he became fast friends with fellow student Christopher Reeve. The two swore to always support each other.
Williams was there for Reeve when he had his horrific horseback riding accident that left him paralyzed. He pledged to pick up any medical bills uncovered by insurance, and to do whatever Reeve’s wife and children needed.
When Reeve died, and then shortly thereafter Reeve’s wife Dana died, Williams was there for the surviving, minor children. He was an active supporter of The Christopher Reeve Foundation, an organization that is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy.
Sharon Osbourne was a huge fan of Robin Williams. When she was battling breast cancer, Ozzy Osbourne got Williams to stop by her room to cheer her up though they didn’t know each other. Williams stayed for an hour, unpaid, to make her laugh. According to Sharon Osbourne, “For someone to do that. It says volumes about somebody.”
For reasons like these, Williams gave performances that were only another level of emotion because he was an individual that truly cared.
The Hypable staff looks back on their favorite Robin Williams movies.
Hook is a film I’ve held close to my heart since childhood. Robin Williams embodied the journey of an adult Peter Pan to embrace love, family, and most poignantly life, once again after being buried by the drudgery of the mundane world. Williams was a hero reborn, bringing magic to his own and the viewer’s hearts as he and the Lost Boys saved Neverland and his children. He was, indeed, The Pan. Bangarang. – Caitlin Kelly (@purplehrdwonder)
‘The Crazy Ones’
On CBS’s The Crazy Ones, Robin Williams played the creative ad guy, Simon Roberts. The show aired its one and only season last year, but it was some of the funniest television I’ve seen in recent memory. He was the perfect actor to portray Roberts, the guy with the wacky ideas that always turned out okay in the end. I would literally laugh out loud at Williams’ eccentric, creative character that clearly came from the man within. – Kristina Lintz (@krislintz)
Patch Adams came out a year before my 4-year-old brother died of cancer. I vividly remember watching it and having a true connection to his character. He taught me that using humor in the most sad and emotional times brings joy to those around us, and isn’t that what’s most important in life? The joy he brought to me will forever be remembered, especially in those dark times. “And if we bury you ass up, I have got a place to park my bike.” – Patch Adams
Brandi Delhagen (@BrandiTiana)
“I just had the walls sponge painted, Val.” If there was anyone who can deliver this line dead pan in a floral shirt and white pants above a drag night club and have you rolling on the floor in laughter, it was Robin Williams. Williams took advantage of every character at his disposal to build him up, but never cast them in his shadow. The banter between Nathan Lane and Williams throughout The Birdcage is something I have yet to see replicated anywhere. Williams is by far the most quoted actor in my family, but what he did with Armand in The Birdcage tops the rest. Armand and Albert are a piece of history and Robin Williams’ mark will not lose its prominence anytime soon. – Brittany Lovely (@britlovely237)
In the 1996 dramedy, Jack, Robin Williams plays a 10-year-old boy with an unusual medical condition that causes him to age four times faster than the average human. Because of this, Jack (Williams) must face his first day of fifth grade at a real school looking like a 40-year-old man. While it’s hard to pick a favorite Robin Williams role, I’ve always had a soft spot for Jack— probably because it was filmed just a few towns over from where I grew up in Marin County, and, coincidentally, where Robin Williams grew up as well. The opening sequence where Diane Lane as Karen Powell gives birth to Jack was partially shot in the same hospital both my brother and I were born in. The school playground that houses the infamous tube Jack hides in at recess before he finds his ragtag group of friends is one we played at often over summer vacation. Over the years, I was lucky enough to run into Williams, who stayed a local Marinite through the end of his days. I’m sure I’m not the only one who will miss his warm presence about town. But above all, I will miss the fact that he’ll no longer be around to make movies like Jack— movies that were just as wonderful for their comedic elements as they were for their poignant moments of drama. The wonderful thing about Robin is that no matter if the scene called for drawing laughs or tears from the audience, he was able to manage both with ease and for that, his talent will sorely be missed. – Pamela Gocobachi (@pamelagocobachi)
Mrs. Doubtfire blends both comedy and heartfelt drama to create a film that will never be forgotten. The same could be said of the actor. Robin Williams’ comedic timing was legendary, and we saw plenty of it in this movie. I remember not being able to believe that all those voices could come out of one person, and wondering if there was a limit to his talents. There wasn’t, and his dramatic acting in this movie proved as such. Most comedians have a natural talent for hilarity, but few can also hold their own in the more serious scenes. Mrs. Doubtfire wasn’t just about a guy in drag; it was about a man doing whatever was necessary to be there for his children when they needed him most. Throughout his life, Robin Williams proved time and time again that he wasn’t just the funny man, but that he was an enormous talent, bringing us to tears using both his humor and his sincerity. – Karen Rought (@Karen_Rought)
Like many of this generation, my clearest childhood cinematic memories involve family outings to see whatever new Robin Williams film was playing. In Bicentennial Man, (based on Isaac Asimov’s novel of the same name) Williams portrays Andrew, an android servant who, due to a “fault,” possesses the capacity for human emotion, and makes a 200-year journey towards gaining recognition as a person in his own right. The futuristic world of Bicentennial Man might seem clunky to the audiences of 2014, but the heart of the film – which includes themes of artificial intelligence, humanity, prejudice, intellectual freedom and mortality – remains just as touching, and just as relevant, today. Any film starring Robin Williams made use of his unique comedic gift – they’d be fools not to – but this movie, like many of his others, contains a seed of darkness. It goes a bit deeper and makes you ask harder questions than most family-friendly films feel comfortable doing nowadays, and part of the beauty and importance of his work is that he taught a lot of young people to think complexly while also delighting them. – Natalie Fisher (@nataliefisher)
‘Good Will Hunting’
In 1998, Robin Williams won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Good Will Hunting. He played Sean Maguire, a psychotherapist enlisted to help the brilliant, yet troubled, Will Hunting played by Matt Damon. This movie was made at a time when Damon and fellow Bostonian and co-writer Ben Affleck weren’t well known. In fact, it was Robin Williams signing on that solidified the movie being made. Williams put funny aside to bring a moving performance of a man who had lost so much, yet wanted to give back. One of the many scenes that stand out to me is when Maguire forces Will to face the fact that it’s not his fault. He just keeps saying “it’s not your fault” until Will accepts it. I remembered wanting to see this movie because of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck because the story behind them writing the script was intriguing, but when I walked away from the film, I was in awe of Robin Williams’ performance, and what he brought to that role and the film. –
Jennifer Lamoureux (@jenlam26)
‘Dead Poets Society’
In Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams inspired an entire generation of young people, this writer included, to embrace all that life has to offer, and to do our very best to understand the world around us. His performance in that film elevated an otherwise touching story to an emotionally charged life lesson. Thanks to Robin Williams, I will never forget to “Carpe Diem,” especially if that means standing on my desk and taking a stand against injustice. After all, “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” I will consider it forever changed, Mr. Williams. Thank you. – Kristen Kranz (@kranzie85)
As someone who grew up in the 1990s, and was raised on Disney movies, Aladdin is the Robin Williams movie I treasure most. I loved that movie primarily because of what Williams brought to the Genie. A bright, witty, unique character that kids to this day admire. Aladdin would be lacking a lot of that Disney magic if anyone else was in the role of the wish-granting magician. – Andrew Sims ( @sims)
‘What Dreams May Come’
I will not be able to watch several of my favorite Robin Williams’ movies for a while. I’m just not ready yet. Maybe I’ll start with Aladdin to ease myself into it. It’ll be easier if I don’t actually see the trademark mischievous grin and oft-punchlined hairy chest of my childhood/adolescent/adult idol in action quite yet. I haven’t even been able to bring myself to watch videos of him online. When I do go on that journey, however, I plan on capping it off with What Dreams May Come. My colleague Jennifer Lamoureux told me, “oh, that is an intense choice,” and it is. It’s a story about death. About heaven, hell, and the afterlife. It’s also a story about hope, about redemption, about love, and about dealing with loss. When I imagine Robin Williams in the afterlife, I imagine this scene above. Of him playing in the paint-world (Robin always found a way to play in paint in his movies) that would serve as his heaven. His children are there, even his dog is there. And after joking with his dog about accidentally ending up in dog heaven, he says, “A place where we all go can’t be bad, can it girl?” – Jimmy Bean (@ThisIsJimmyBean)