The Death of Robin Williams

The death of Robin Williams Good Morning Vietnam
Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam

The world is now coming to terms with the news of the unexpected death of Robin Williams.

It is a shocking, sad end to a performer who many thought of as a human laugh machine. Constantly being on, machine-gunning jokes non-stop and appearing like he would never stop.

I, like most people of my generation, first knew Williams as the bizarre alien Mork from Ork. Mork & Mindy became a television mainstay during my earliest years. I remember thinking Williams was so funny wearing his bright goofy shirt and casually sitting on his head. I was the proud owner of one of those rainbow Mork suspenders. I wonder how many of those they sold when the show was on. I had the Mork doll too. That show must of been pulling in some decent change from that stuff.

His Ork hand greeting was something I tried to master. I suppose it was just a knock-off of Spocks, but I didn’t know that at the time. I loved when he said his Mork catchphrases, like “Nanu Nanu” and “Shazbot!” That was a hardcore curse in my mind back then. I used that one plenty of times towards my sisters!

From there on out I followed him as he branched out into movies in the early 80’s. Now watching these movies I can appreciate them, but at the time I was too young to like The World According to Garp, although I did watch it. The parents might have been a bit too lax of what I was watching on cable at my young age.

The most I remembered from that movie was Garp as a boy getting his penis stuck in his zipper and that it showed a girls boobs. That was Robin Williams being serious! Moscow on the Hudson was Williams with a beard doing a funny accent and Survivors was him cursing with Walter Matthau.

Robin Williams Popeye 1980
Popeye

Popeye was the big Williams movie for me during that time. Dad took me to see that and I thought it was so cool. I watched it over and over on cable. It’s funny that now I’m going back and doing these video reviews of movies I watched so long ago with a new perspective. It’s really a goofy movie, but I still think Williams was the perfect Popeye in it.

A little later The Best of Times and Club Paradise came into my cable rotation. I can’t say I’m a big fan of them but I watched them enough. They were just – ‘the OK football movie’ and ‘the movie with a lot of funny people in it that’s not that funny’. Oh and of course his HBO stand-up specials where he got a bit raunchier and did his manic performing. Along with his talk show interviews where he seemed to just bounce around ad-libbing jokes until a commercial break finally stopped him.

Good Morning Vietnam really got his movie career rolling. Me and my friends went to go see that and loved it. Man, that soundtrack was constantly being played by us with Williams inbetween songs doing his radio announcing thing. When we went to see The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (I think we were the only ones who went to go see it!) we all thought it was so cool that Williams was doing a cameo in the movie. Little did we know that was only the start to countless appearances and supporting parts he would do in films. Sometimes not even being credited.

He was nonstop. Comedies, dramas, television, voice work, big-budget films, independent films, Comic Relief, stand-up, he seemed like he was everywhere!

That’s one of the strange things when I think back on him. For me he was always around. I don’t really remember a time when Robin Williams wasn’t on TV or doing movies. But looking back at all the projects and the wide range of work he has done – it’s almost like he worked with everybody and wasn’t exclusive to just one particular audience. He really got around! It’s no wonder there’s been such an outpouring of emotion from so many people over his passing.

Robin Williams The Fisher King 1991
The Fisher King

I can’t say I was a fan of everything he did. But The Fisher King, One Hour Photo, Insomnia, Moscow on the Hudson, those are some movies that I rank as my favorites of his. Not that long ago I watched a low-budget, extremely dark comedy he did called World’s Greatest Dad, which I thought was funnier than most of the more mainstream films he had done. It’s certainly not for everyone, but I thought he was great in it. I don’t want to reveal spoilers about the story, but now sadly one could view it as containing an unsettling bit of irony from his recent death.

After hearing Williams died I started to mentally go through my memories that I had of him – which is quite a lot. One thing that I remembered was one particular skit he had done while hosting Saturday Night Live in the mid-80’s. I tried looking all over for this skit, but couldn’t find it anywhere. I’d really like to watch this again.

Williams played an elderly broken down version of himself. He’s in his crummy apartment surrounded by posters of all his movies and his son comes to pay him a visit – his son was played by Dana Carvey doing a very funny Williams impression. Williams is sitting in his easy chair reflecting on his life and what went wrong with his now crumbled career. At one point he says, “Maybe it was all those sequels I did to Good Morning Vietnam”.

That was funny!


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4 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    According to WHO, approximately one million people commit suicide each year worldwide, that is about one death every 40 seconds or 3,000 per day. For each individual who takes his/her own life, at least 20 attempt to do so. Suicide has a global mortality rate of 16 per 100,000 people. So demoralized, precious human beings Everywhere, Every day take their own life. Be kind to everyone because you don't know what they're going through, you may just help them hold onto hope!

  2. Capt. Nemo says:

    This is turning in to a hell of a year.

    Eli Wallach, Mickey Rooney, Lauren Bacall, Shirley Temple, Manahem Golan, James Garner, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and now Robin Williams.

    It' 2008 all over again:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhFiMeMV4_M

  3. CKulik says:

    I've written so much about Williams, in fact he was my favorite comedian next to George Carlin, with Rodney Dangerfield being a comfortable third. The last great comedian is gone, I just don't believe it. I'm glad you provided a shout out to POPEYE which is criminally underrated, and not just his performance. Over at DVD verdict, I reviewed the first 3 seasons of "Mork & Mindy": I shall never forget when he looked in a keyhole to see who's at Mindy's door, then turning to Mindy and asking, "Are you expecting a zipper?" Some of my favorite films Robin has been in besides POPEYE: THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, GOOD MORNING VIETNAM, DEAD POETS SOCIETY (O Captain, O Captain), MRS. DOUBTFIRE, ONE HOUR PHOTO, and GOOD WILL HUNTING of course. I also reviewed his Inside the Actors Studio session for DVD verdict as well.

    One thing I must mention is when he was doing POPEYE, his co-star Shelley Duvall was reading a giant book of fairy tales in her spare time, ultimately inspiring her to create the cult cable favorite "Faerie Tale Theatre." She asked Williams to be in the first episode, "The Tale of the Frog Prince," and play the Frog Prince with Teri Garr as the princess. Great stuff if you haven't caught it yet.

    Still, considering the fact how Robin died makes me think of when there was a massive debate back in 1995 after Christopher Reeve's equestrian accident as to whether he should be "unplugged" not. Williams was Reeve's fellow student at Julliard and when the former visited the latter while in the hospital, he convinced him to NOT be unplugged, and thus Reeve lived another 8 years, reportedly generating over 90% of feeling in his body by the time he passed. Seriously, I never cry over celebrity deaths, but Robin Williams was a special exception for me. As far as I'm concerned, he will never be forgotten.

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