Oh Captain, My Captain

He made us laugh and cry: beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams signs autographs for fans. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

 

BY CHARLTON BURNELL

Robin McLaurin Williams was found dead this morning in his home in California. He was 63.

It is being reported that the hilarious and talented actor took his own life after suffering bouts of depression. In a statement, his publicist Mara Bauxbam said:  “This is a tragic and sudden loss.”

Robin’s wife Suzan Schneider has also spoken with media, saying: “This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings.”

Robin’s Rise to fame was almost an accident. After appearing on the short-lived Richard Pryor Show as a credited cast member, in 1978 he was cast in a bit part on TV sitcom Happy Days. In his audition the relatively unheard-of stand up comedian entered the room wearing a crazy costume, including his now-famous rainbow suspenders and a pair of silly glasses. Asked to sit down “like an alien”, Robin walked to the chair and proceeded to sit on his head. He was immediately cast for the one-off part of Mork, a humanoid alien from the planet Ork. Due mainly to his talent and a mostly improvised appearance, it outrated most episodes that had been before it and a spin off was created – Mork and Mindy – in which Mork was the star.

Robin’s fast paced sense of humour and improvisation skills catapulted him to stardom. He did not, however, give up on the stand up side of comedy, with two of his most famous stand up routines “Off The Wall” and “An Evening with Robin Williams” being first televised in 1978 and 1982 respectively. In 1986 Robin hit the stage again with “Robin Williams: Live at the Met” and that year he also hosted the Academy Awards. His stand up and television roles continued throughout his career.

Robin’s first film appearance was in a movie that predated his fateful guest spot on Happy Days: a film called Can I Do It Till I Need Glasses?, released in 1977. As an actor he starred in Academy Award-winning films such as Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) and Good Will Hunting (1997) where he also received the gong for Best Supporting Actor. His film roles were varied, from the award nominated performance as a teacher in Dead Poets’ Society to the fantasy character Peter Pan in Hook. Robin also lent his voice to characters such as The Genie in Disney’s Aladdin (1992), and more recently the animated hit by Australian co-op Kennedy Miller Productions, Happy Feet (2006), where he voiced the roles of Ramón and Lovelace.

Robin’s  light hearted humour and flamboyant improvisational style will be missed by fans the world over. He was a man who made generations of people laugh, just as much as he made them cry.

Further enquiries are being made into his tragic loss.

Robin Williams 21-7-51 ~ 11-8-2014

Support is available for those who may be distressed at Lifeline 13 11 14; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.

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