Robin Williams’ death shocked and saddened the world I live in.
Quite a few of my friends have spent time with him.
I had not had the pleasure of meeting Robin Williams. However, like everyone, I have vivid memories of his films and his stand-up comedy. I mourn his passing.
The death of Robin Williams has reverberated around the globe as a social media shared experience.
I have collected some moments as we process this experience together.
My Friends Remembering Robin Williams
Comedian Sean Morey on Facebook
I am so shocked and sad about Robin. I worked with him many times and it always was an honor to be in his presence and a thrill to watch him perform. He was so awesome and so nice to everyone no matter who they were.
Julie Spira on Facebook
It was my first Thanksgiving in Los Angeles away from my family and I went to a friend’s home in Brentwood who was cooking dinner. Robin was one of the guests. It was a warm and loving holiday for about 12 of us. He brought us so much joy and laughter. I’ll always remember that.
Bruce Sallan on his blog
Remembering his meeting with Robin Williams during Bruce’s TV film production days.
Cynthia Gonzalez on Facebook
Robin Williams was an icon, to be sure, but one of his greatest legacies in his own life on film was showing the power of love – through comedy and laughter, but also through heartfelt moments of being raw – in real life and as the characters he played. So, in honor of a man I grew up adoring, here are the movies, I learned from Robin Williams himself and characters he played. My favorite lesson is Laughter has the possibility to cure. and Friendship is a powerful and magical thing. RIP Robin Williams.
Russell Brand in the Guardian
(Russell Brand also wrote an amazing letter for Amy Winehouse which was on his website and I had previously linked to: russellbrand.com in 2011/07/ called for-amy but he has removed it from his site.)
This photograph on the cover of Time Magazine August 12 may be my favorite photo of Robin Williams. It was taken by Nigel Parry in NYC 2007. The article includes a selection of photos of Robin with comments from the photographers.
UK Telegraph Robin Williams Accepting Oscar
ABC remembers his stand-up
Billy Crystal Tribute to Robin Williams During the Emmy’s In Memoriam
Robin Williams Films
Marsha Collier and Susan Gilbert noted and I agree that while there were many films Robin Williams is famous for, his passing made us think of one in particular. That is What Dreams May Come (review by Roger Ebert). In the film, Robin Williams’s character is killed in a car accident. His wife, Annabella Sciorra commits suicide. Robin is on a mission to find her in the after life so that they can be together.
I have seen Bicentennial Man at least 10 times. It is in my collection of DVD’s that I use to study foreign languages with. It combines the elements of being enjoyable with having a great deal of relatively intelligent conversation and foreign language captions that match the what is being said.
Robin left three films in post production and two films completed in 2014. Details on his IMDB.
Boulevard was introduced at the Tribeca Film Festival but has not yet been in distribution. It has achieved a 7.5 IMDB rating and sounds promising. In it, Nolan (Robin Williams) confronts his homosexuality.
Robin Williams Best Scenes collected by QZ, thanks to Kare Anderson on her Facebook
Robin Williams fan site says they have many archives but unfortunately, they are not on a server that can respond to a huge spike in traffic so you can only see the front page right now. Eventually, though I’m sure it will come back on line.
Robin Williams Support for Charities and Our Troops
Liz Kelly founder of The Goody Awards on Facebook
Thank you Robin Williams for being a driving force behind Comic Relief to help the homeless!
From KTLA :
The late actor offered his time, money and celebrity name to over 50 charities and causes, according to Look to the Stars, a website that compiles the charitable works of celebrities.
One of his most visible efforts was fund-raising for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Williams began appearing in commercials and public service announcements for the hospital in 2004.
“Many celebs have requirements about cars and who they will talk to, but Robin was the opposite. He showed up on his own and he stayed at our events and talked to everyone,” said Wilderotter, CEO of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.
While he would not discuss amounts, Wilderotter said that Williams was also very generous in his financial support of the foundation. “These weren’t token gifts,” he said.
Williams was also a big supporter of the United Service Organizations, or USO, which provides support and morale-boosting performances to U.S. troops and their families.
The USO said that throughout his 12 years of involvement with the organization, Williams created special moments for nearly 90,000 servicemen and servicewomen in 13 countries.
Robin Williams’ wife, Susan Schneider:
“This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken.
On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”
UPDATE from Robin Williams’ wife, Susan Schneider on August 14:
“Robin spent so much of his life helping others. Whether he was entertaining millions on stage, film or television, our troops on the frontlines, or comforting a sick child — Robin wanted us to laugh and to feel less afraid.
Since his passing, all of us who loved Robin have found some solace in the tremendous outpouring of affection and admiration for him from the millions of people whose lives he touched. His greatest legacy, besides his three children, is the joy and happiness he offered to others, particularly to those fighting personal battles.
Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly.
It is our hope in the wake of Robin’s tragic passing, that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid.”
Robin Williams’ second wife, Marsha Garces Williams
“My heart is split wide open and scattered over the planet with all of you. Please remember the gentle, loving, generous – and yes, brilliant and funny – man that was Robin Williams. My arms are wrapped around our children as we attempt to grapple with celebrating the man we love, while dealing with this immeasurable loss.”
Robin Williams three children:
“Yesterday, I lost my father and a best friend and the world got a little grayer. I will carry his heart with me every day. I would ask those that loved him to remember him by being as gentle, kind, and generous as he would be. Seek to bring joy to the world as he sought.” -Zak Williams
“My family has always been private about our time spent together. It was our way of keeping one thing that was ours, with a man we shared with an entire world. But now that’s gone, and I feel stripped bare. My last day with him was his birthday, and I will be forever grateful that my brothers and I got to spend that time alone with him, sharing gifts and laughter. He was always warm, even in his darkest moments. While I’ll never, ever understand how he could be loved so deeply and not find it in his heart to stay, there’s minor comfort in knowing our grief and loss, in some small way, is shared with millions. It doesn’t help the pain, but at least it’s a burden countless others now know we carry, and so many have offered to help lighten the load. Thank you for that.
To those he touched who are sending kind words, know that one of his favorite things in the world was to make you all laugh. As for those who are sending negativity, know that some small, giggling part of him is sending a flock of pigeons to your house to poop on your car. Right after you’ve had it washed. After all, he loved to laugh too…
Dad was, is and always will be one of the kindest, most generous, gentlest souls I’ve ever known, and while there are few things I know for certain right now, one of them is that not just my world, but the entire world is forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter in his absence. We’ll just have to work twice as hard to fill it back up again.” -Zelda Williams
“There are no words strong enough to describe the love and respect I have for my father. The world will never be the same without him. I will miss him and take him with me everywhere I go for the rest of my life, and will look forward, forever, to the moment when I get to see him again.” -Cody Williams
“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most – from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams.”
Comedians and Mental Health
It was not difficult to see the manic side of Robin Williams during his improv. I feel so very sad for his suffering.
When we discuss the mental health of comedians, we must avoid over-generalization about the mental health of comedians. There was a study released in January this year sampling comedians in the USA, UK and Australia. Report in the BBC.
The BBC elaborated on this connection in an article about Robin Williams death with examples of British comedians.
Depression and Suicide
David Raiklen on Facebook (August 14 update)
Let’s talk about depression – it’s pretty simple. Depression is when your brain, your thoughts, everything that makes you *you* stops working. But you’re still awake. It’s like a broken leg. You can’t walk much on a broken leg, you can’t think much on a depressed brain.
I get a little angry when I see well meaning people say “so-and-so is battling depression”. No, they aren’t. When some is depressed they couldn’t battle a fly. They are prisoners in their own body, forced to listen to verbal abuse. And telling them to fight is just cruel. They want to run, but they’re too sick to move.
The abuse comes from the evil twin of those soft voices we all hear, telling us “I want that”, or “don’t go in there”. But in depression the voices are whispering lies, doubts, shouting abuse. They aren’t under the person’s conscious control anymore. And there’s physical pain too.
Robin Williams acted out this kind of state throughout his career. Funny voices appearing out of nowhere, arguing with each other. It’s funny, till it’s aimed at you.
Managing depression is a holistic community based effort. The person needs patient, understanding, watchful family and friends. Your friends and doctors are the ones that battle the depression when it happens. Until the person is well enough to help themselves.
Healthy food, daily exercise, socializing, counseling, taking your meds. That’s how you manage depression. Works for normal sadness and grief also.
You can trust and count on people who have depression. They can do great work, be kind and brilliant people. Or not, they’re like everyone else. When they have sick days, they’ll get better. Just don’t stigmatize them. It’s not catching and they’re fine between bouts. Just like you’re fine when you don’t have a broken leg.
David Raiklen on Facebook (August 12)
Robin Williams was a terrific talent who also had manic-depression. Some of you know I cared for a lot of people with that condition.
You can experience matchless highs of tireless creativity and boundless energy. The top of your game and then some. I’ve seen people make a million in 2 months, or write and produce a musical in a couple weeks. They love life and people love them back. It’s proven that manic people are more successful than normal folks – for a while.
Of course you can get a bit too high energy, but a few drinks will smooth that out. You can appear perfectly normal after a blaze of incredible productivity.
Then there’s the lows. Just returning to normal can seem hopelessly slow and dull, plus you’re so tired. And then there’s the bi-polar variation. Like Robin, who was one of the funniest men in the world. But the depression side can’t be laughed away.
Before all was joy. In depression, all is sorrow. There is no hope, that is not possible for a depressed brain. And the alcohol and other drugs that were fine before now turn deadly. No amount of will power, medication, healthy diet or even love can stop depression in less than a few months.
And during that time, people die.
Rich folks with Bipolar Disorder (as we now call it) can insulate themselves from medical attention even more than poor folks. They can doctor-shop and hide in their mansion and never get proper care. When people are feeling fantastic and doing great work they don’t want anyone or any treatment to slow them down.
When you’re manic anything is possible. When you’re depressed everything is impossible. And that shift can happen overnight. The depression stops rational thinking, the brain literally slows down and stops working. The person feels they are useless and a burden to everyone, and on one level they are right.
You can’t let mood swing that far up or down.
If you suspect someone has an untreated or under-treated mood disorder, keep encouraging them to seek help. And speak to their other family and friends. A conspiracy of silence, hoping the mental illness will just go away, is where we let down people who need our help.
I don’t feel sorry for people with mild mania, they are often having the time of their life. (though it can go too far). But they need to get mood stabilizing treatment before they fall into a suicidal depression.
Robin Williams will be remembered as a great comedian. If his death from depression inspires us to care for people with mood disorders, that could be an even greater legacy.
Peter Gregg on Facebook
The very public tragedy of someone as esteemed and iconic as Robin Williams, hopefully will open many conversations regarding depression. From understanding to seeking help to realizing you aren’t alone in this battle.
Am hopeful it will help some get assistance as well as help those near them recognize it and reach out.
Williesha Morris on her blog This is the Face of Depression
— Tonya Hall (@TonyaHallRadio) August 12, 2014
Comments on E-Online article that Williams did NOT have financial troubles: http://www.eonline.com/news/569291/robin-williams-had-no-financial-problems
”Agree. Though what I really wish was that we had better involuntary committal laws. People with clinical depression have a disease that makes them undependable when it comes to taking the few effective medications we have, and even when taken those need time to work. It also makes depressed people less able to decide when they need to go to a setting where everything and everyone is about them and their safety. There shouldn’t be a stigma about going someplace where they’ll lock you in and take care of you for your own sake. Clearly he’d become ill in a way no addiction rehab center was competent to address. If his wife had been able to easily make the decision on his behalf to have him locked up until he was in his right mind again, the odds are much higher he’d still be alive. Every time I remember he’s dead I just feel sick all over again. ”
“For most of our history as a nation, you could have a spouse or family member involuntarily committed for many forms of mental illness. The results were not good, overall. And some of the atrocities visited upon those people committed in such a way were truly gruesome, such as ungoverned electro-shock therapy and pre-frontal lobotomy. Also, the system was abused by people going after a father’s money or to rid themselves of in inconvenient spouse. No, I don’t think involuntary incarceration and torture is the way to go. And, unfortunately, that is what history teaches us happens too often to allow even a foot in the door. Robin Williams sought help. In the end, his disease killed him. Would he be alive today had his wife had him committed, or would that have only enraged his inner demons?”
In the film, 112 Weddings, one of the wives suffers from depression. Her husband is very understanding. It’s a great movie anyway, so it you haven’t seen it and you are interested in open and honest looks and this condition, you should see this HBO/BBC film.