August 11, 2014

Robin Williams has died.

And they are saying "suspected suicide"!

ADDED: This is very sad. He's exactly my age, and I remember how much we loved him in the 1970s. The first comedy album I ever bought was "Reality... What a Concept."



AND: First appearance on the "Tonight" show, 1981:



AND: Here he is, again with Johnny, 10 years later:




AND: This same flower that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying...



"We are food for worms, lads..."

AND: I hadn't seen him in a movie since "Good Will Hunting" and "Deconstructing Harry" in 1997. The other movies of his I saw were: "The Birdcage," "The Fisher King," "Awakenings," "Dead Poets Society," "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen," "Good Morning, Vietnam," and "Moscow on the Hudson." [AND: I also saw "Toys" and "Insomnia." [AND: "One Hour Photo."]] He was in a lot of movies, good and bad. I think I saw the good ones. Here's a scene from "Moscow on the Hudson" — talking about American freedom:



Maybe the first time we saw him him was on "Laugh-In" in 1977 (a year before "Mork & Mindy"). In this clip, at 5:41, he appears alongside the also-recently-departed James Garner:



AND: Also from 1977 TV, Williams appeared on "The Richard Pryor Show" in a long sketch based on "To Kill a Mockingbird":

90 comments:

madAsHell said...

I've never been depressed, and I'll never understand it, but how do you willfully leave loved ones behind?
Depression must be powerful stuff.

Rest in peace, Mr. Williams.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Nanew NaNO.

32.and.Stewart said...

Sad. Grew up with him and thought he was so zany (in a good way).

Gahrie said...

A complete tragedy..even more so if he committed suicide.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Celebrating Hunter Thompson or Robin Williams for being wild and crazy, very very unmuch like Steve Martin though, seems almost cruel.

They are mentally challenged, or were, and them and all the other wild crazy ones ought be told settle down.

Balance not extremes.

Cool your jets a bit huh

We like you. You don't need to be Hendrix or Belushi or whomever Spaulding Grey went nuts about.

The Crack Emcee said...

Not completely unexpected - he's been copping to depression for years.

Comedians are especially vulnerable, which is why I hang with them - birds of a feather.

I gotta call one now, make sure he's O.K.,...

Kevin said...



RIP Mork....shazbot

Bob Ellison said...

I recommend Moscow on the Hudson. Robin Williams was really good there, mostly not even trying to be funny.

The Crack Emcee said...

My friend, who knows Williams, blames his ex-wives.

Says they're probably laughing harder now than ever,....

Jason said...

My God! Was it a drive-by fruiting?

Diogenes of Sinope said...

Why would somebody go through open-heart surgery and then commit suicide?

Jason said...

I guess he didn't have any new material after Jonathan Winters passed away.

Birkel said...

An Althouse topic about which people can agree.
Robin Williams was incredibly funny.
And suicide is confounding and tragic.

Also, Robin Williams was hairy.
And talented.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...


There will be plenty of praise for Williams on this thread, so I'll live up to my handle and remind everyone that he quite often chose to be gratuitously vicious in his cheap shot mocking of Conservatives (never Liberals), taking special joy in reinforcing false reports of their supposed low intelligence, e.g. Bush, Palin.

He surely brought lots of joy to many, including me, but he clouded it by bringing pain to those I mentioned, and their families.

Oh well.

gbarto said...

madAsHell Until you've had depression, you have no idea. The word willfully suggests that you're in possession of your faculties. When I look back at the thoughts that have gone through my head at my lows, I know I was every bit as insane about good vs. bad as the guy who's seeing goblins. So far, I've made it back each time, but it's a rough place to be.

RIP

Jason said...

There was always, ALWAYS a profound sadness to him. He papered over it with mania in his standup routine and Mork, but at his best, he was the saddest clown there ever was.

He couldn't play the Fisher King without being a little bit of the Fisher King inside.

That was part of his brilliance, and why he was so much more than Mork and Mrs. Doubtfire. But sadly it got the best of him.

Be said...

The last I'd heard of him, he'd checked himself into rehab to deal with the Down of post filming.

If there were anyone out there who could Deal, it was He.

(Off to buy a bottle of wine and go to bed.)

Anonymous said...

Blogger Jason said...
I guess he didn't have any new material after Jonathan Winters passed away.

8/11/14, 6:47 PM
----------------------

yup!

Michael K said...

I had also heard an ex-wife was part of it. I liked him in "Dead Again," a terrific Kenneth Branagh movie. He certainly hated conservatives. Too bad.

Ann Althouse said...

"Also, Robin Williams was hairy."

Yeah. That makes this morning's "blog has a theme today" eerie.

Ann Althouse said...

"No one speaks of hairy chests as the mark of manhood anymore."

traditionalguy said...

Obviously Williams was emotionally sensitive and really felt other people's pain.

Manic depressive/ bi-polar are superficial descriptives used by psychologists, but what Williams really suffered from was giving himself too much to connect to other hurting people. He would tenderly beat them to it.

That persona left Williams vulnerable in every way to people using and then discarding him, and he knew it. That hurt him for sure.

You see when people in life would be good back to him, he would turn around and give himself away to the next person and then the next until what could the first person do but take what Williams had offered and leave him before he could gave the rest away to others.

Rest in peace, Robbin. The world was not worthy of you.

WestVirginiaRebel said...

Williams could be a very good dramatic actor. He guest starred on Homicide: Life on the Street and Law and Order: SVU.

You stay classy, Roseanne

WestVirginiaRebel said...

traditonalguy: Williams actually dealt with that in a classic Mork and Mindy episode where he played both himself and Mork, and talked about how hard it was for him to say no to people.

Deb said...

I thought of this song by Lucinda Williams:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-XJ1ROQLHk

Alex said...

I grew up on Robin Williams. So shocked. He was equally a great dramatic actor as in comedy.

Watch the following films:

Moscow on the Hudson
Dead Poet's Society
Awakenings
The Fisher King
What Dreams May Come
One Hour Photo

David said...

The stream of consciousness has come to an end. If he had been a Kennedy, people would be pointing out his addictions and infidelities. They were quite spectacular. But there was a heart and soul inside all that manic self indulgence. And he made us laugh. So we forgive his self centeredness and cruelties. Maybe life wasn't the same for him once Jonathan Winters was gone.

MadisonMan said...

Depression must be powerful stuff.

Depression makes the important very unimportant, and the unimportant very important.

MathMom said...

For some reason, I have been watching The Fisher King on Netflix the last several days. I have watched it three times. That movie allowed him to be Robin Williams, and to show a deeply empathetic side too. I've been thinking about him and what a wonderful actor he was. Today all that ended.

I am sorry that he could not be as happy as he made us.

victoria said...

He is my age too. Having suffered from depression, it is a lonely, lonely, painful feeling. Powerful, you bet. Takes over everything in your life and, in the thick of it, you think it will never end.


R.I.P. Robin, love you


Vicki from Pasadena

Guimo said...

Just another loser. Why do we glorify them?

MathMom said...

Diogenes of Sinope

It's called Pump Head. You go on a heart-lung machine, your red corpuscles are bruised as they are going through, and they come back not quite like they were before. It can cause serious mental problems.

Not everyone gets it, but it's very sad when it happens.

MathMom said...

I was watching this video yesterday. Robin Williams was invited to meet Koko the gorilla, the one who speaks sign language.

Koko likes Robin Williams' movies, and recognized him from a VCR cover.

Clyde said...

Aw, WTF?! This has kind of ruined my evening... :-(

SGT Ted said...

Man, what a huge loss of sheer human talent.

Rip, Mork.

Kelly said...

Michael K, thanks for reminding me of Dead Again, I loved that movie. I've seen no mention of my favorite movie of his, Good Morning Vietnam.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

The first time I was in Boulder I thought of the blue Jeep Cherokee with the girl and Williams from M & M.

Robert Cook said...

It's very sad Williams was in such pain as to take his own life, (if the rumors prove true). I can't say I ever really warmed up to him...he was always too manic, too ON, too overbearing, really, in his need to assault you with nonstop bits,--all too fragmented--all so obviously a deep cry for approval and love. He was like that guy at a party you just can't get away from...even though you desperately want to! He was like a modern day Borscht Belt comic...a vaudevillian in hipster garb.

I don't mean to sound as if I'm judging him, I'm not; he possessed an undeniably singular talent that entertained and pleased many. It's that that his singular talent did not really speak to me. (I was never crazy about Monty Python, either...they seemed too often to be just silly.) I preferred the Marx Brothers for zany humor and W.C. Fields for acerbic humor.

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

You work fast, Prof. Althouse. You work fast and you work good.

Saint Croix said...

So sad. Dead Poets is one of those movies that is a touchstone in my life. Whenever I need inspiration, I watch it again. God bless, Robin, and rest in peace.

gadfly said...

Robin Williams was the most liberal of Hollywood liberals. His hatred of conservatives was on display always. In this routine, he was brutally hateful toward Angelina Jolie, George W. Bush and Sarah Palin and his liberal fans ate it up.

Liberals thought he was funny, conservatives felt the wrath of his hate. I suspect that he will not be missed for long by anyone, but we can look for a Democrat-sponsored "Paul Wellstone" type funeral and political fund raising rally for "William Robins", um, you know who I mean.

And the answer to the unasked question is "No, he won't be returning to Mars."

Paul said...

He was on drugs... hooked on 'em.

Jason said...

Meh. That's all politics bullshit. Bush and Palin and even Jolie are all fair game. They all have publicists. They'll be fine.

Williams was a great supporter of the troops all along, no matter who was in office, and gave a lot of himself entertaining deployed troops. He was a friend to the privates, specialists, sergeants and lieutenants far from home.

MathMom said...

Well, Gadfly -

I just watched that clip and it made me disappointed that he wasted so much talent being so blind and hateful. That's one problem about flaming libs - they are really really nasty, and I think that alone could negatively affect your emotional health.

All the things he lampooned Bush for, Obama has done exponentially worse. If I had been that duped by the Obama Pant Crease, I'd be depressed, fer sher.

rcommal said...

Hmmmmm.

FullMoon said...

Rumor in the bay area is that he accidentally hung himself while masturbating. I hope it is not true.

Valentine Smith said...

Cat might as well have been from that other planet. Total dissociative personality. Had no idea who he was.

AReasonableMan said...

gadfly said...
Robin Williams was the most liberal of Hollywood liberals. His hatred of conservatives was on display always. In this routine, he was brutally hateful toward Angelina Jolie, George W. Bush and Sarah Palin and his liberal fans ate it up.


What whiny drivel this is.

William said...

I liked him but I was too depressed to pay much attention to comedians when he had his best years.....,That first appearance on Carson was funny and inventive. He kept topping himself. That's hard to do, and probably a lot harder to do when you're older. Great beauties like Hedy Lamarr and Marlene Dietrich were said to have gone into a blue funk when they lost their beauty. What happens to comedians when they lose their sense of humor?

rcocean said...

Sad to hear it. Good comedic actor with a good script. Otherwise, he gave "Zany" a bad name.

Johnathan Winters had his own mental health issues but survived to a ripe old age.

Will Cate said...

I had no idea Laugh-In was still on the air in 1977.

Cedarford said...

Shame he died, but he left quite a body of good work. He'll have an immortality few of us get. 50 years from now people will laugh at his best comedy in movies and TV. His dramatic roles like Insomnia, Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets backed by extremely well rendered comedy (Mrs Doubtfire, Moscow on the Hudson) add a different legacy path.

He will also be known for charities, his quiet financial support of Christopher Reeve in his disability, his work entertaining troops and hospital kids.

So he died at 63 by his own hand.
Too bad. But a very full and productive 63 years and he was rich and famous and very well regarded for most of that time.

traditionalguy said...

Williams was not perfect. He was alcoholic self medicated. But he was an extraordinary giver of himself to others. Comedy that he did was risky and took courage.

Criticizing him only reveals a lack of empathy in a critic.

He ministered humor to crowds with empathy and tenderness. I have no doubt that Robin is in Heaven now sharing laugh lines with another great giver of himself to crowds. Both men dedicated themselves to setting others free from bondage to the end.

Gina Pera said...

Thank you, MathMom, for mentioning Pumphead.

Five hundred thousand Americans undergo open-heart surgery annually. Even "successful" outcomes are not without significant neurocognitive or psychiatric risks.

An excellent article on the subject in Scientific American. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/pumphead-heart-lung-machine/

Scott said...

My two favorite movies of his were "The Survivors", and "The Best of Times", neither of which is particularly well-regarded by most of his fans. Each was special to me because Williams manages to connect with a powerful underlying them...coping with failure (The Survivors) and redemption (The Best of Times)...both are flawless examples of his earlier manic work, yet both have an emotional heft that transcends simple humor.

I despised his politics, and was saddened that he let it darken into a fairly ugly hatred, but such is the way of the Left. Let us appreciate the wonder of his humor, and forgive his human frailties...

Rest in Peace

rcommal said...

Let us appreciate the wonder of his humor, and forgive his human frailties... :

A breath of fresh air, and I am thankful for it.

Crazy Jane said...

The New Yorker ran a profile of Williams and his second wife as the Mrs. Doubtfire movie was being released in 1993. I don't have the patience to reread the thing, but I remember thinking at the time that it was barfingly hagiographic.

I knew, long ago, a couple friends of Robin Williams. He was a nice guy, but the energy it took for him to do the work he did took a lot out of him, probably too much. Very sad.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Robert Cook writes: "always too manic."
I attended a small event or two where he was just another father in the crowd. He was so low key, basically shy, that it was very hard to recognize the manic performer. I think there must be a kind of schizoid thing in professional performers of his caliber.

avwh said...

These four movies are the ones I'll remember him for:
Good Morning, Vietnam
Mrs. Doubtfire
Dead Poets Society
What Dreams May Come

averagejoe said...

Don't forget Paul Mazursky, who wrote and directed Moscow on the Hudson, just died a few weeks ago.

Fat Bastardo said...

Did Big Pharma Poisons Kill Robin Williams? Click HERE

Robin was probably on an antidepressant drug and antidepressants dramatically increase suicides.

Anonymous said...

Plausible deniability Betamax says:

The air pressure is different around you, compressed, pushing down at you, always. Would like to come up for air but can't find the surface. The bends, the chokes, the staggers. Neurologic: numbness, confusion, memory loss. Visual abnormalities, unexplained mood or behavior changes. Constitutional: headache,unexplained fatigue, general malaise with poorly localized aches. Shortness of breath.

Never see those bodies other than as an abstracted sketch of shadow, but occasionally can see the fleeting faces of those not there. What do the voices sound like? What the voices of strangers sound like in your dreams, paranoid reverb, search for recognition. They must know something otherwise why would they be there. Long hallway. Speak clearer, dammit.

Watch others to gauge how far off your reality is. Slow down, take a deep breath, it can't be so bad, others have it worse than you, it is all in your head. LIGHTEN UP. Response: slow down with tremors, tell a joke tell a joke tell a joke, be here then there keep moving keep moving keep moving like you are being chased, don't get pinned don't get caught in a corner, it is all corners, medication, alcohol.

You're not trying hard enough, try harder, try harder, think of others. Constant movement has its own charisma. Smile. Smile. Need more sleep.

Or that is what I'm guessing.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you noticed on the above that 'people depend on you' is not mentioned. Probably just an oversight: a lot going on.

Anonymous said...

Robin Williams Robot says:

In the last few seconds of coherence there is this -- What the fuck am I doing This is a misunderstanding I think Fuck I just thought of the World's Greatest Joke and now people will never ever hear it Do I really mean to do this, Really Really Really Can I try again please Please, back up.

Anonymous said...

Robin Williams Robot says:

Old Yogi Berra joke: if there is a fork in the road, take it. Comes to mind, can't remember where I heard it, a long time ago: I think I dropped the deck of cards.

Anonymous said...

Robin Williams Robot says:

What was the last thing I ate that I REALLY tasted? Nothing comes to mind. A child's Sno-Cone is just maudlin, an attempt to fake a memory: I once was a tug-boat captain.

Anonymous said...

What was it like to be a tug-boat Captain? I liked the smell of the sea and I got to wear a hat. Somebody stole my cherries, that is a reference or maybe a clue, I loved to pull the whistle. Fog Horns in the distance. Foghorn Leghorn, I remember that cartoon although I liked Road-Runner best, beep beep. I remember watching and eating breakfast cereal. What was the cereal? I don't remember so I will say Trix.

Anonymous said...

Trix were for Kids, which was one fucked-up way to introduce them to the Real World. My bologna had a middle name, too, I could spell it and everything but I was sworn not to tell by a slice of Wonder Bread and a butter knife.

Anonymous said...

The best part of childhood? Not being raped. Edgy humor when you're about to die.

John Lynch said...

Reminds me of the scene in "What Dreams May Come," where he's exploring the self-made hell of a suicide.

Gary Rosen said...

I was living in San Francisco in the mid-70s when Williams was still working small local comedy clubs there. Nobody was surprised when he made it big. Dana Carvey also came out of that scene.

Humperdink said...

Loved the Williams character played in Good Morning Vietnam. Reportedly, the "on the radio microphone" segments were significantly ad-lib.

Larry J said...

on said...
on said...
Meh. That's all politics bullshit. Bush and Palin and even Jolie are all fair game. They all have publicists. They'll be fine.


It's kind of stupid to insult half of America. Tends to alienate your audience.

Williams was a great supporter of the troops all along, no matter who was in office, and gave a lot of himself entertaining deployed troops. He was a friend to the privates, specialists, sergeants and lieutenants far from home.

There's a great video on YouTube of Willams entertaining troops in Iraq several years ago. In the middle of his act, the call Retriet (to lower the colors) was given and his entire audience stands up and faces the flag, turning their back on him. He didn't know what was going on but he removed his hat as a sign of respect. Afterwards, the audience explained it to him. It was very funny.

I just watched him in "August Rush" last Sunday. He was a funny comedian and a good serious actor as well. I've read he had serious financial problems from one or more ex-wives and his last TV show wasn't renewed.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

I hate the idea there is nothing anyone can do about suicide without a prescription: it's all brain chemestry they say.

Is pedophilia the same thing?

Jew hate?

Leftism?

These are all diseases of the mind and I believe there are non-prescription ways for people to keep going, when going through Hell.

It is comforting for me to think that David Brooks and his sea of empathy shit might make a difference for me when all I will be able to see is the veil of tears.

MathMom said...

Gina Pera -

You're welcome! And thanks for the Scientific American article. I'm printing it for future reference.

Ann Althouse said...

"Reminds me of the scene in "What Dreams May Come," where he's exploring the self-made hell of a suicide."

So he makes this whole elaborate movie that's showing everyone the pain of hell as a consequence of suicide, and then he commits suicide?

I avoided that movie, based on that trailer. What dreck! The hell stuff might have interested me, but that heaven crap, with dogs and flying, is awful.

Early days of CGI… the effects seemed much more amazing at the time. Still...

NotquiteunBuckley said...

*I think they mean "chemistry" but who am I to judge?

mrs.e said...

RIP Robin - May you forever be free of your demons.

Tibore said...

"“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling."
-David Foster Wallace

St. George said...

One of his unreleased movies--due out this Christmas--is titled...

"Merry Friggin' Christmas"

What are they thinking in Hollywood?

AReasonableMan said...

NotquiteunBuckley said...
I hate the idea there is nothing anyone can do about suicide without a prescription: it's all brain chemestry they say.

Is pedophilia the same thing?

Jew hate?

Leftism?


Logorrhea?

Biff said...

"What Dreams May Come" is one of a handful of movies tied for "Biff's Favorite Movie of All Time." I've struggled with depression, and the movie's portrayal of Annabella Sciorra's Hell accurately captures how I've felt when I've gone through bad periods. It's physically painful for me to watch (seriously). I realize that may sound overblown. Until I experienced depression firsthand, I was dismissive of depression's power. The "heaven crap" in the movie objectively may be dreck, but to me (and I wonder if it is felt similarly by others who've fought severe depression), it never ceases to have a powerful impact. A bit of hope, if you will, that things might get better. For someone with severe depression, the impact of just a tiny bit of hope cannot be overstated. When you don't have it, hope is everything.

Brando said...

Though I read that almost everything in "Good Morning Vietnam" was made up (Cronauer was a conservative who supported the military, never had run-ins with his superiors, but was a popular DJ for Armed Forces Radio), that was one of his most enjoyable performances. Quite a talent for ad lib. He was also great in "Worlds Greatest Dad".

RIP. So sad to see depression take another life.

Kelly said...

I think I must be the only person to absolutely detest Mrs. Doubtfire. I remember sitting in the theater and wanting it to end, I can't put my finger on why I hated it so much, but after that I pretty much avoided all of his films.

MathMom said...

Kelly!

You and I BOTH detest Mrs. Doubtfire.

One thing I hated about it was during his stream-of-consciousness thing at the table in the restaurant where he deftly slips the word "cunnilingus" into a "children's movie", which will be captioned, and which children can read, and then go ask Mommy what cunnilingus means...

Thanks for nothing. Just like the day I had to explain to my 2nd grader who was an avid reader of Time and Newsweek what oral sex was, because of "BJ" Clinton.

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Unknown said...

"comedy, of any sort, is usually a byproduct of a tumor that grows on the human soul." -- David Wong, Cracked.com

(Did you know they have a suicide prevention group?)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

i think he must have been having problems in his current marriage for him to turn to drink once again and then commit suicide. maybe she was threatening divorce and god knows he could not afford another divorce. nobody really knows what was happening in his home but it could not have been a happy environment for all this to take place. i think his widow is lying about how shocked she was. they were having problems no doubt. otherwise she would have know if he was that desperate.