As a kid, I watched a lot of old television from the 70s. One of my favorites was Happy Days. A character was introduced on Happy Days that would become a part of popular culture from that day on. Mork, an extraterrestrial alien from the planet Ork. Mork was played by a young unknown comic, the incomparable Robin Williams. The popular character quickly became the star of a sci-fi comedy spin off, Mork and Mindy. Co-Starring Pam Dawber, the show centers around an alien living on Earth and learning how to get by in this new world. Only Robin Williams could have played an alien with such joy, wonder, and sincerity. In the clip below he explains what it’s like to lose a friend.
Comedians tend to make some crazy movies in the beginning of their careers. The first comic book movie I ever saw was probably Popeye. This is definitely a kids movie, and I remember watching it every time it was on tv. To me, he just WAS Popeye. I don’t even think I considered it to be acting at that young age! Probably not the best movie ever made, but it was such a huge part of my childhood I never even thought about it as quality film making!
Robin Williams went on to be a massive comic superstar and also an acclaimed and award winning dramatic actor over the years. His passing this week has rocked the entertainment industry as people struggle to wrap their heads around someone who brought so much joy to their lives could ever be unhappy.
As the years past Robin Williams battled with his own demons when it came to alcohol, depression and substance abuse. I wont get into that, as I cannot begin to fathom what it was he went through, or pretend I understand how dark the night can get before the dawn for some people, creative or otherwise.
What I will say, is that there are some entertainers who can connect to the public unlike any others. Whether through laughter or dramatic roles, some actors look at us through the screen and we just feel them. We feel their love, their pain, their sincerity, their earnestness. The prolific career that was Robin Williams brought about some performances that have shaped and formed us. Personally, Dead Poet’s Society and Good Will Hunting were the two performances that shaped who I was, and formed who I wanted to be as a person.
I have always found encouragement and understanding of myself in film. These films, especially, remind you to seize the day, and live your life. Don’t just read about it, or learn about something, but truly feel every moment you are living. In a society so wrapped around technology it can be difficult for us to remember that. We forget sometimes to look up. To see the smile on another person’s face, to truly share an experience, or to reach out to someone who may just need a friendly smile to brighten their day.
The articles I have read describe Robin Williams as someone who was always kind, generous, and went above and beyond to bring people the gift of hope and laughter. That is a trait that cannot ever be extinguished. Through the creative gifts he gave the world, Robin Williams will always be the first alien to walk among us, who taught us to laugh that much harder.
Below are some clips that I have found to remind everyone how much joy and sentiment this man has brought to our lives. When a gifted comedian takes a dramatic turn in a role, the result is vulnerability which is unparalleled. The result creates magic that cuts right into you that is not contrived, that is not overacted, that is not cliche. What Robin Williams brought to dramatic roles was in fact, magic. I am continually shocked at how the passing of this genius has affected me to my core.
It is as if I have lost a family member or a good friend, a life mentor.
I guess I am not out of line in saying, my entire generation lost their favorite teacher.
The Fisher King
Good Morning Vietnam
Good Will Hunting
If you only watch one clip, watch this….
“What will your verse be?”
Rest In Peace, Mr. Keating.
O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
Dead Poet’s Society