Born July 21, 1951 - Chicago, Illinois
Died April 11, 2014 – Paradise Cay, California
A dynamo of frenetic energy as a stand-up, who had also been classically trained at Julliard, it didn’t take Robin Williams long to be noticed. Beginning at San Francisco’s Holy City Zoo and then later on the stages of Hollywood clubs, he caught the attention of The Richard Pryor Show and George Schlatter who was starting a revived version of Laugh In, and he was hired by both for early TV appearances. Word spread and Garry Marshall chose him to play an alien on his popular sitcom Happy Days. The alien’s name was Mork. The success of that appearance prompted Marshall to build a show around the new talent, and six months later Mork and Mindy was on the air. An immediate hit that would run four seasons, it opened new doors and in short order Williams had shot his first HBO Special Off The Wall and recorded his first album Reality…What A Concept, which would go on to win the Grammy for Best Comedy Recording. Films followed beginning with Popeye (1980) and The Word According To Garp (1982), but his real breakthrough came with Good Morning, Vietnam (1988). Playing the part of a D.J. assigned to a U.S. Armed Forces radio Service in Vietnam gave him the opportunity to unleash more of his own personality, and it became box office gold. While he began to concentrate on more dramatic roles, he took time to co-found Comic Relief, and for the next years would help in raising more than $80 million to assist Americas’ homeless. A return to comedies gave us the monster hits Hook (1991), Aladdin (1992, for which the Golden Globes would present him a Special Award For Voice Work In A Film), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), and The Birdcage (1996). Later on, he would return to series television for the first time in 30 years with The Crazy Ones, and star in the Night At The Museum film series. He had won five Grammys, two Emmys, an Oscar, 10 American Comedy Awards, and five Golden Globes plus their Cecil B. DeMille Award.
Williams had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (which tuned out to be Lewy Body Dementia) and was suffering with severe depression when he took his life on April 11, 2014.