Robin Williams was an American comedian and actor who starred in television and movies from the mid-1970s to early 2010s. Known for his wild comedic flair and improvisational skills, Williams rose to fame playing the kooky space alien in Mork & Mindy. He then began to star as a leading man in movies including the live-action adaptation of Popeye (1980), and his first dramatic role in The World According to Garp (1982). Box office success arrived when Williams starred as a radio DJ in Good Morning Vietnam (1987), a grown-up Peter Pan in Hook (1991), the magic genie in Disney’s Aladdin (1992), a cross-dressing father in Mrs. Doubtfire (1996) and President Teddy Roosevelt in three Night at the Museum movies. Williams won the Best Supporting Actor for his role in Good Will Hunting (1997).
Born on July 21, 1951 in Chicago, Illinois, his middle name is McLaurin. Williams died on August 11, 2014 as a result of hanging. It is believed that the comedian was suffering from dementia partially brought on by Lewy body disease.
During his life Williams sided with the Democrats. It’s been reported that he donated as much as $116,000 to various Democratic campaigns throughout his life. (1)
Williams once said that he used his humor to “lash out, to cut through things – to cut through the illusion of things, that everything is alright.” (2) Indeed, Williams used his comedy to downplay controversial political subjects or to magnify his disdain for certain elected leaders.
For example, Robin was not fond of President George W. Bush when he was in office from 2000 to 2008. “Dubya doesn’t speak while [Dick] Cheney drinks water,” Williams said in his comedy that Williams performed during Bush’s presidency:
Williams also felt that too much importance was given on President Bill Clinton’s sex scandal with White House intern Monica Lewinski. Taken from his Weapons of Mass Destruction comedy show, Williams made this observation about the scandal:
“It’s weird. It’s like you’re going, ‘Last thing I remember was the economy was working and there was a budget surplus.’ Yeah! ‘Where’s Clinton?’ We impeached him. ‘Fuck
“‘For what?’ A blowjob. ‘Wow! Who did he blow, Putin?’ No! No, he got blown by a Jewish girl. ‘Wow! He got head from a Jewish girl? Fuckin’ A! And they impeached him for that?’ Well, he lied about it. ‘He’s married! Who wouldn’t? What the fuck?’
“No, he lied about it to Congress. ‘And THOSE fuckers impeached him? That’s like a group of lepers judging a beauty contest. What the fuck?'”
After Williams’ passing in 2014, Republican talk show host Rush Limbaugh said that he believed Robin Williams committed suicide because of his leftist politics. “He had it all, but he had nothing. Made everybody else laugh, but was miserable inside. It fits a certain picture or a certain image that the left has. [I’m] talking about low expectations and general unhappiness,” Limbaugh said. (3)
Robin Williams also came from a family that had political history. His great-great-grandfather was Anselm J. McLaurin, a former governor and senator of Mississippi.
Raised by a mother who was a Christian Scientist and a father that was Episcopalian, Robin felt a connection with the Episcopal Church.
“As a child, I was heavily into religion. I was into the ritual of it,” Williams said. “I grew up in San Francisco where the gospel music is so beautiful. I’m more religious in the sense of an open, compassionate church that’s there to take care of people with outreach programs and counseling. ” (4)
In 2007 Williams found himself returning to alcohol and decided to enter rehab. Once he had finished the grueling month-long treatment, Robin’s spiritual side seemed to have reawakened. “You get a real strong sense of God when you go through rehab,” he remarked. “[Religion has] become much more personal to me.” (5)
He once joked that being Episcopalian was essentially “Catholic lite: the same religion, half the guilt.” (4)
Throughout the course of his life Robin Williams was married three times: first, to Valerie Velardi (1978 to 1988), the second time to Marsha Garces (from 1989 to 2010), and finally to Susan Schneider (2011 to his death in 2014).
Williams had three children: son Zachary (born 1983), daughter Zelda (born 1989) and son Cody (born 1991).
Williams was known for his giving nearly as much as his ability to make people laugh. Some of the many charities that he donated time or helped raise money for include Comic Relief USA, the Windfall Organization, the Red Cross, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As well, throughout his career Williams performed for over 100,000 American troops stationed in 13 countries.
4: God Reports
5: South China Morning Post
Photo by Eva Rinaldi. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License.