Robin Williams dead of apparent suicide

Robin Williams could be gut bustingly funny or mawkishly sentimental. But whatever he did on stage or screen, he did it full out, full bore, and held nothing back.

Willaims was found dead in his home yesterday of an apparent suicide.

It's risky to perform. Acceptance or rejection is personal. But Williams became the greatest risk taker of any modern performer, as the New York Times explains:

The privileged son of a Detroit auto executive who grew up chubby and lonesome, playing by himself with 2,000 toy soldiers in an empty room of a suburban mansion, Mr. Williams, as a boy, hardly fit the stereotype of someone who would grow to become a brainy comedian, or a goofy one, but he was both. Onstage he was known for ricochet riffs on politics, social issues and cultural matters both high and low; tales of drug and alcohol abuse; lewd commentaries on relations between the sexes; and lightning-like improvisations on anything an audience member might toss at him. His gigs were always rife with frenetic, spot-on impersonations that included Hollywood stars, presidents, princes, prime ministers, popes and anonymous citizens of the world. His irreverence was legendary and uncurtailable.

“Chuck, Cam, great to see you,” he once called out from a London stage at Charles, Prince of Wales, and his wife, Lady Camilla Bowles. “Yo yo, wussup Wales, House of Windsor, keepin’ it real!”

And yet he never seemed to offend.

Almost from the moment that he first uttered the greeting “Nanoo, nanoo” as Mork from Ork, an alien who befriends a wholesome young Colorado woman (Pam Dawber), on the sitcom “Mork and Mindy,” Mr. Williams was a comedy celebrity. “Mork and Mindy” made its debut on ABC in September 1978, and within two weeks had reached No. 7 in the Nielsen ratings. By the spring of 1979, 60 million viewers were tuning in to “Mork and Mindy” each week to watch Mr. Williams drink water through his finger, stand on his head when told to sit down, speak gibberish words like “shazbot” and “nimnul” that came to have meaning when he used them, and misinterpret, in startlingly literal fashion, the ordinary idioms of modern life.

He went on to earn Academy Award nominations for his roles in films like “Good Morning, Vietnam,” in which he played a loquacious radio D.J.; “Dead Poets Society,” playing a mentor to students in need of inspiration; and “The Fisher King,” as a homeless man whose life has been struck by tragedy. He won an Oscar in 1998 for “Good Will Hunting,” playing a therapist who works with a troubled prodigy played by Matt Damon.

His stream of conciousness monologues on life, culture, politics, and the entertainment industry became legendary. But I think film and TV were too confining for him. Most of his best work on film was when he was allowed a lot of improvisation, as in "Good Morning Vietnam." Otherwise, his characters were rather ordinary. No snap, crackle, or pop.

Williams was 63.

Robin Williams could be gut bustingly funny or mawkishly sentimental. But whatever he did on stage or screen, he did it full out, full bore, and held nothing back.

Willaims was found dead in his home yesterday of an apparent suicide.

It's risky to perform. Acceptance or rejection is personal. But Williams became the greatest risk taker of any modern performer, as the New York Times explains:

The privileged son of a Detroit auto executive who grew up chubby and lonesome, playing by himself with 2,000 toy soldiers in an empty room of a suburban mansion, Mr. Williams, as a boy, hardly fit the stereotype of someone who would grow to become a brainy comedian, or a goofy one, but he was both. Onstage he was known for ricochet riffs on politics, social issues and cultural matters both high and low; tales of drug and alcohol abuse; lewd commentaries on relations between the sexes; and lightning-like improvisations on anything an audience member might toss at him. His gigs were always rife with frenetic, spot-on impersonations that included Hollywood stars, presidents, princes, prime ministers, popes and anonymous citizens of the world. His irreverence was legendary and uncurtailable.

“Chuck, Cam, great to see you,” he once called out from a London stage at Charles, Prince of Wales, and his wife, Lady Camilla Bowles. “Yo yo, wussup Wales, House of Windsor, keepin’ it real!”

And yet he never seemed to offend.

Almost from the moment that he first uttered the greeting “Nanoo, nanoo” as Mork from Ork, an alien who befriends a wholesome young Colorado woman (Pam Dawber), on the sitcom “Mork and Mindy,” Mr. Williams was a comedy celebrity. “Mork and Mindy” made its debut on ABC in September 1978, and within two weeks had reached No. 7 in the Nielsen ratings. By the spring of 1979, 60 million viewers were tuning in to “Mork and Mindy” each week to watch Mr. Williams drink water through his finger, stand on his head when told to sit down, speak gibberish words like “shazbot” and “nimnul” that came to have meaning when he used them, and misinterpret, in startlingly literal fashion, the ordinary idioms of modern life.

He went on to earn Academy Award nominations for his roles in films like “Good Morning, Vietnam,” in which he played a loquacious radio D.J.; “Dead Poets Society,” playing a mentor to students in need of inspiration; and “The Fisher King,” as a homeless man whose life has been struck by tragedy. He won an Oscar in 1998 for “Good Will Hunting,” playing a therapist who works with a troubled prodigy played by Matt Damon.

His stream of conciousness monologues on life, culture, politics, and the entertainment industry became legendary. But I think film and TV were too confining for him. Most of his best work on film was when he was allowed a lot of improvisation, as in "Good Morning Vietnam." Otherwise, his characters were rather ordinary. No snap, crackle, or pop.

Williams was 63.