How can one pay tribute to someone with such a vast repetroire of accomplishments?
I cannot answer that question in its entirity though I am compelled to try.
The first I knew of Robin Williams was as a comedic Martian in the TV series Mork and Mindy (1978-1982).
Through the mistakes of the character and his transmissions back to Ork (Mork calling Orson, come in Orson)
at the end of each show, we may have become imprinted and in some small way, our lives changed.
Through the laughter, I know mine did, so much so that I now have every Mork and Mindy episode.
As the years passed, Robin Williams became one of the actors whose career I followed earnestly.
From Popeye, Moscow on the Hudson and Good Morning, Vietnam
in which his portrayal of the brash and outspoken, yet caring US Armed Services Radio DJ, Adrian Cronauer stood out …
to Awakenings, The Fisher King and Hook where his character Peter Banning adventures into Neverland,
meeting Tinkerbell, the Lost Boys, Smee and the infamous Captain Hook.
Who better to play Peter Pan than the man that through humour seemed to never grow up.
Robin Williams was also the master of ad-lib. In fact, when providing the voice of the Genie in the Disney movie Aladdin,
he ad-libbed so many of his lines, the script was turned down for a Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award nomination. In Good Will Hunting,
Williams plays Dr. Sean Maguire, a psychologist and teacher … Robin Williams’ last line in the film, as well as the therapy scene in which he talks about his character’s wife’s little idiosyncrasies, were both ad-libbed and took everyone by surprise. I must admit that I am a hopeless romantic and one of my favorite quotes comes from this film. Robin Williams is sitting on a park bench talking to Matt Damon, who portrays the title character, Will Hunting.
In Mrs. Doubtfire, a film my mother loved but never “quite” understood, Williams plays a father who is desparate to spend time
with his children after a bitter divorce/custody battle which leaves him only being able to see them once a week.
He brilliantly takes on the “persona” of Mrs. Doubtfire, a Scottish nanny who is hired by his ex-wife. His ruse is so good that
neither his wife, nor his children recognize him.
So from purposeful ‘drag’ to flamboyantly gay in The Birdcage, and the amazing and sometimes
heartwrenching portrayal of Hunter “Patch” Adams, a student of medicine in the 70’s who truely belives
that laughter is the best medicine and oversteps the medical and scientific communities boundaries in the
true story based, Patch Adams
More information about and including Robin Williams’ filmography can be found on IMDB, but before I put end to this tribute, I must touch on one more film …
Dead Poets Society
As English teacher, John Keating, Williams’ character inspires his students at a private boy’s school to love poetry and to seize the day.
He taught them that it was okay to stand up for one’s self and that conformity to society’s norms was not always a requirement in the
world outside the classroom … or in the classrom for that matter. One of the quotes from the John Keating character has meant a lot
to me as an amateur poet and writer. It is a quote I have framed and sitting on my desk.
And so as I close my tribute to Robin Williams, American actor, stand-up comedian, voice actor, film producer and screenwriter. I have but one thing left to say…
“Oh Captain, my Captain!”