Robin Williams has left the building, and it is a very lonely building now without him. His quick wit, and lovable characters have entertained us since the late 1970’s when he first appeared on ‘Happy Days’ as Mork from Ork, later spawning his own very successful hit show, ‘Mork And Mindy’. His spontaneity sustained him long after he left that series, lighting up the late night talk shows, and cracking up the hosts as well as the audiences with his zany antics. Robin was one of Johnny Carson’s very last guests. He may have had the fastest comedic mind on earth. Although his earliest film starring role as “Popeye” was a surprising bomb, he more than made up for that with a stellar line of what have become film classics. Comedy or tragedy, Williams could bring it.
In the 1980’s, ‘The World According To Garp’, and ‘Moscow On The Hudson’ made him a film star. In 1985, he played a disc-jockey in ‘Good Morning Vietnam’, this was a breakthrough film that not only high;ighted Robin’s quick wit, it also resurrected the (long dead) Louis Armstrong classic ‘What A Wonderful World’, which is today considered one of the finest recordings of the 20th century. In 1989, his gender-bending role as ‘Mrs Doubtfire’ was a standout performance. In 1997,he won an Oscar for mentoring a very young Matt Damon in ‘Good Will Hunting’. However, his best role was Professor John Keating at a boy’s school, allowing his young minds to refer to him as ‘Oh Captain, My Captain’, a line from a Walt Whitman poem. This was a special movie for me, as I had a teacher very similar teacher in junior high, his name was Trevor Morgan. I actually thought I was watching Mr. Morgan on the screen in Dead Poet’s Society’. Both encouraged their students to be themselves and explore literature, thinking it opened up the world to young minds.
After his most recent tv series ‘The Crazy Ones’ was canceled, Robin got very busy. He left us with no less than four films in the works, including plans for a sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire. Robin Williams personal hero was the equally unfiltered, and brilliant creative genius Jonathan Winters, who passed away last year. Winters was a regular on the final season of ‘Mork And Mindy’. I have heard many strange tales about the antics of those two on that set. Like Williams, Jonathan Winters had a long history of battles with depression,mental illness, and substance abuse. After a comedy club appearance in the early 1960’s,Winters once climbed the mast of a ship in San Francisco Harbor around 4am while completely naked. Someone should watch the harbors tonight. The ghosts of the two great comedy legends may be in the Crow’s nest somewhere. These were two of the most talented and creative people of our generation. They were precious minds that are already being missed.