Tag Archives: robin williams shines in dramatic roles

The Robin Williams Post I Needed to Write


I remember being upset when Michael Jackson died. And Christopher Reeve. And John Denver, Hughes and Ritter. Each time, I was measurably sad. Each time, I remember where I was when I first heard the news. And each time, I remember having it affect me enough that it took me a moment to process that an iconic figure in my life was gone. I was moved and I was mournful but I never cried. After all, I didn’t actually know any of these people so why would I be moved to tears over their deaths?

But yesterday changed everything.

I have a CD of TV theme songs in my car. I made the mistake of popping it in this morning. Never mind the sniffing and sniveling I exhibited when I first heard the sad news yesterday. Today I found myself engulfed in a full-on sob. And it was a little confusing at first. Because I couldn’t really figure out why. Why was the death of Robin Williams affecting me so much more profoundly than any other in my memory?

And the more I thought about it … and him … the more apparent it became.

When I was a wee pup …

I remember pleading to get extensions on my bedtime so I could watch TV. We didn’t even have cable yet. So there were only three channels from which to choose my television programming. I had several favorite shows, among them was Happy Days. I never missed an episode. Even after Fonzie jumped the shark. What did I care? I was a kid. And, to a kid, jumping over a live shark is nothing short of awesome. So when the producers of Happy Days further pushed the envelope by introducing an alien to the cast, I was all in. I remember even having a bit of a crush on this lunatic with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. So I was thrilled when he spun off to his own show. And the best thing about it was that my dad was sitting next to me for every episode. After years of dissing much of the goofball comedy that I called TV, he actually liked this show. And before I knew it, he and my mom were both tuning in every week with me to watch the show.

When I was in elementary school …

I remember seeing the cinematic adaptation of Popeye at the movie theater with all of my elementary school friends. I even had the soundtrack (and I can still sing a few of its songs … if prodded).

When I was a tween-ager seeking books for school reports …

He transitioned fully to the big screen where his first big project was The World According to Garp, the first of many books-made-into-movies by John Irving (who would, because of this film, become my favorite author).

When I was a teenager …

He released Moscow on the Hudson, Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society and Cadillac Man, all of which I can remember seeing at the theater with friends or on dates with faceless people from my past.

When I met my husband …

I learned he wasn’t a big fan of Mr. Williams. To that point, most of what Dave had been exposed to was merely the actor’s manic, goofball, often-medicinally-fueled, hyperactive, 100mph material. And it just wasn’t his cup of tea. But the actor pulled a fast one on Dave when he released Awakenings and The Fisher King. And Dave was duly impressed. And now paying full attention. Whenever it involved a dramatic role. I get that. Over the years, there were several movies where Mr. Williams played characters who were able to smile or even laugh through their own tears. It was all so real and so humbling that I couldn’t help but cry (and sometimes laugh) right along with him. It was in these roles that he was the most amazing. And most human.

When I was a young adult …

He won his first Oscar. For a little movie called Good Will Hunting. No offense to Matt Damon (who I would later come to love) but Mr. Williams stole the show. And I guess the Academy thought so, too. I believe this scene is my brother’s favorite movie clip of all time.

When I became a mother …

I discovered a whole new collection of titles in his gargantuan body of work. Because he was a dad … and always a bit of a kid himself … he still found plenty of time to be silly. And he was often given carte blanche by his directors to improvise and “be himself” when the cameras were rolling. Thus was born projects like Aladdin, Jumanji, Flubber, Hook and Mrs. Doubtfire. All of these movies came out before my kids were even born and yet they love and have seen them repeatedly in their lifetimes.

What Dreams May Come, Patch Adams, One Hour Photo, Night at the Museum … I could go on and on and on. But I’m guessing I don’t have to. Because judging from all the news feeds of my all too many social media forums, you guys already know what I’m talking about. And clearly you’re feeling it, too.

Farewell, Mr. Williams.

You’ve been making me laugh and cry for as long as I can remember. Like me, the world is reluctant to let you go and will not soon forget you. Thanks for making your life extraordinary. And for seizing the day again and again.

I only wish you had more of them.

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