Robin Williams, a comedic jack of all trades who dazzled audiences for over four decades, was found dead of what sources believe to be a suicide*. He was 63.
For Williams and the generations who loved his absolutely every move, he leaves behind a legacy where for many, he was the king of his crafts. Weaning his inspirations from people such as Jonathan Winters, Robin Williams pioneered a sort of manic improvisation of Mack Truck coming at you at 100 miles an hour style of comedy that could make anyone laugh, hard. Just witness people like Johnny Carson, (and many others of Carson’s ilk and stature) to the every man, just in stitches at the craziness and what seemed intrinsic zaniness that emanated like running tap water from Robin Williams.
Whether it was his takes on Popeye, or meek kind of innocuous characters who gained strength (in films as diverse as the cinematic adaptation of John Irving’s novel The World According To Garp, Michael Ritchie’s The Survivors with Walter Matthau or films like Dead Poets Society or Cadillac Man), it was ultimately his portrayal of Mork from Ork on the sitcom Mork and Mindy, in which he played an alien in as a remote place as Boulder, Colorado, which was the ultimate fish out of water scenario, that brought Williams huge success early in his career and in essence, his first success. The role allowed Williams to stretch reality, and he was able to use his comedy barbells to the apex of any situation the characters put Mork in. And what it did most of all, was set Robin Williams apart from his comedic peers and that included people during that time like John Belushi and Steve Martin, with a sort of manic, completely off-kilter and off the edge sort of can of tonic that would explode hilariously in fervent spurts and unexpected moments. Williams’ genius stock in trade bit, more than anything else, was to riff funny akin to a Jimi Hendrix jam. It would have emotion to it, lilt, lift, intensity, quick drop, steady pull, he would go from loud bombastic characters to soft ones in the blink of an eye and he’d be like the ever popular, A number one whirling dervish, a breath taking form of action comedy if you will, and it locked in his legend.
His career post Mork and Mindy followed with dramatic roles such as Awakenings, Good Morning, Vietnam and an Academy Award turn for Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting, and he had major successes with Mrs. Doubtfire, for which he was signed on to do the sequel; Hook; Jumanji; The Birdcage; and the Night At The Museum series (for which he’ll be seen this December in the third film, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb), as well as of course the voice of the genie in Disney’s 1992 animated feature Aladdin.
While the actor, like a lot of his generation, had arguably aged into an era where coasting became the order of the day, where guys like him, who have had past iron bronze plaques of a career now do generally mediocre work, it didn’t matter for Robin Williams. His light and white hot shining legend and presence gave off a warmth like feeling, actually touching, a rainbow. And it’s that continuance in perpetuity that will give off that hot, bright, floodlight of charm, of hilarity and life that was Robin Williams. To know that such a large figure has now been quieted, is unbelievable to think of, let along fathom, but thank God for this age of archiving digitally, where everything is getting saved in safe technological environments for posterity. It is for that and the rich memories we will have of him, that will keep him here forever, in our consciousness and in our world. We still need him now more than ever. All of us at Geeks Of Doom are saddened and stunned by this tragic news.
RIP Robin Williams
July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014
Here’s the full statement of Williams’ death from the Marin County Sheriff’s Office (via THR):
On August 11, 2014, at approximately 11:55 a.m, Marin County Communications received a 9-1-1 telephone call reporting a male adult had been located unconscious and not breathing inside his residence in unincorporated Tiburon, CA. The Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Tiburon Fire Department and Southern Marin Fire Protection District were dispatched to the incident with emergency personnel arriving on scene at 12:00 pm. The male subject, pronounced deceased at 12:02 pm has been identified as Robin McLaurin Williams, a 63-year-old resident of unincorporated Tiburon, CA.
An investigation into the cause, manner, and circumstances of the death is currently underway by the Investigations and Coroner Division s of the Sheriff’s Office. Preliminary information developed during the investigation indicates Mr. Williams was last seen alive at his residence, where he resides with his wife, at approximately 10:00 pm on August 10, 2014. Mr. Williams was located this morning shortly before the 9-1-1 call was placed to Marin County Communications. At this time, the Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made. A forensic examination is currently scheduled for August 12, 2014 with subsequent toxicology testing to be conducted.
While William’s publicist, Mara Buxbaum, did not confirm the death as a suicide, she did tell THR that the actor was suffering from depression:
“Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”
Also, the actor’s wife, Susan Schneider, released a statement:
“This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”
Williams’ death has been confirmed as a suicide due to asphyxia from hanging himself in his California home, according to police.
The Marin County Sheriff’s office also said Williams, who was 63, suffered “acute superficial” cuts to his wrist, and a pocket blade was found near his body. A forensic examination showed no signs of a struggle, and toxicology results for Williams, who had struggled with substance abuse, won’t be available for about 2-6 weeks, police said.
Williams was last seen by his wife at 10:30 p.m. local time on Sunday when she went to bed. She left the house Monday morning, and the actor’s personal assistant became concerned when Williams failed to respond to knocks on his bedroom door that day. Upon entering, the assistant found Williams “clothed in a seated position, unresponsive, with a belt around his neck,” Lt. Keith Boyd told reporters during a news conference.