Monday, October 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Robin Williams, manic comedy star, dead at 63

Robin Williams

FILE - This June 15, 2007 file photo shows actor and comedian Robin Williams posing to promote his film, "License To Wed" in Santa Monica, Calif. Williams, whose free-form comedy and adept impressions dazzled audiences for decades, has died in an apparent suicide. He was 63. The Marin County Sheriff’s Office said Williams was pronounced dead at his home in California on Monday, Aug. 11, 2014. The sheriff’s office said a preliminary investigation showed the cause of death to be a suicide due to asphyxia. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)

By
August 12, 2014 |

SAN FRANCISCO — Robin Williams, the Academy Award winner and comic supernova whose explosions of pop culture riffs and impressions dazzled audiences for decades and made him a gleamy-eyed laureate for the Information Age, died Monday in an apparent suicide. He was 63.

Williams was pronounced dead at his home in California on Monday, according to the sheriff’s office in Marin County, north of San Francisco. The sheriff’s office said a preliminary investigation shows the cause of death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.

“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,” said Williams’ wife, Susan Schneider. “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 had been battling severe depression recently, said Mara Buxbaum, his press representative.

From his breakthrough in the late 1970s as the alien in the hit TV show “Mork and Mindy,” through his standup act and such films as “Good Morning, Vietnam,” the short, barrel-chested Williams ranted and shouted as if just sprung from solitary confinement. Loud, fast, manic, he parodied everyone from John Wayne to Keith Richards, impersonating a Russian immigrant as easily as a pack of Nazi attack dogs.

He was a riot in drag in “Mrs. Doubtfire,” or as a cartoon genie in “Aladdin.” He won his Academy Award in a rare, but equally intense dramatic role, as a teacher in the 1997 film “Good Will Hunting.”

He was no less on fire in interviews. During a 1989 chat with The Associated Press, he could barely stay seated in his hotel room, or even mention the film he was supposed to promote, as he free-associated about comedy and the cosmos.

“There’s an Ice Age coming,” he said. “But the good news is there’ll be daiquiris for everyone and the Ice Capades will be everywhere. The lobster will keep for at least 100 years, that’s the good news. The Swanson dinners will last a whole millennium. The bad news is the house will basically be in Arkansas.”

Following Williams on stage, Billy Crystal once observed, was like trying to top the Civil War. In a 1993 interview with the AP, Williams recalled an appearance early in his career on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” Bob Hope was also there.

“It was interesting,” Williams said. “He was supposed to go on before me and I was supposed to follow him, and I had to go on before him because he was late. I don’t think that made him happy. I don’t think he was angry, but I don’t think he was pleased.

“I had been on the road and I came out, you know, gassed, and I killed and had a great time. Hope comes out and Johnny leans over and says, ‘Robin Williams, isn’t he funny?’ Hope says, ‘Yeah, he’s wild. But you know, Johnny, it’s great to be back here with you.'”

In 1992, Carson chose Williams and Bette Midler as his final guests.

Like so many funnymen, he had serious ambitions, winning his Oscar for his portrayal of an empathetic therapist in “Good Will Hunting.” He also played for tears in “Awakenings,” ”Dead Poets Society” and “What Dreams May Come,” something that led New York Times critic Stephen Holden to once say he dreaded seeing the actor’s “Humpty Dumpty grin and crinkly moist eyes.”

Williams also won three Golden Globes, for “Good Morning, Vietnam,” ”Mrs. Doubtfire” and “The Fisher King.”

His other film credits included Robert Altman’s “Popeye” (a box office bomb), Paul Mazursky’s “Moscow on the Hudson,” Steven Spielberg’s “Hook” and Woody Allen’s “Deconstructing Harry.” On stage, Williams joined fellow comedian Steve Martin in a 1988 Broadway revival of “Waiting for Godot.”

“I dread the word ‘art,'” Williams told the AP in 1989. “That’s what we used to do every night before we’d go on with ‘Waiting for Godot.’ We’d go, ‘No art. Art dies tonight.’ We’d try to give it a life, instead of making “Godot” so serious. It’s cosmic vaudeville staged by the Marquis de Sade.”

His personal life was often short on laughter. He had acknowledged drug and alcohol problems in the 1970s and ’80s and was among the last to see John Belushi before the “Saturday Night Live” star died of a drug overdose in 1982.

Williams announced in recent years that he was again drinking but rebounded well enough to joke about it during his recent tour. “I went to rehab in wine country,” he said, “to keep my options open.”

Born in Chicago in 1951, Williams would remember himself as a shy kid who got some early laughs from his mother – by mimicking his grandmother. He opened up more in high school when he joined the drama club and he was accepted into the Juilliard Academy, where he had several classes in which he and Christopher Reeve were the only students and John Houseman was the teacher.

Encouraged by Houseman to pursue comedy, Williams identified with the wildest and angriest of performers: Jonathan Winters, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, George Carlin. Their acts were not warm and lovable. They were just being themselves.

“You look at the world and see how scary it can be sometimes and still try to deal with the fear,” he told the AP in 1989. “Comedy can deal with the fear and still not paralyze you or tell you that it’s going away. You say, OK, you got certain choices here, you can laugh at them and then once you’ve laughed at them and you have expunged the demon, now you can deal with them. That’s what I do when I do my act.”

He unveiled Mork, the alien from the planet Ork, in an appearance on “Happy Days,” and was granted his own series, which ran from 1978-82.

In subsequent years, Williams often returned to television – for appearances on “Saturday Night Live,” for “Friends,” for comedy specials, for “American Idol,” where in 2008 he pretended to be a “Russian idol” who belts out a tuneless, indecipherable “My Way.”

Williams also could handle a script, when he felt like it, and also think on his feet. He ad-libbed in many of his films and was just as quick in person. During a media tour for “Awakenings,” when director Penny Marshall mistakenly described the film as being set in a “menstrual hospital,” instead of “mental hospital,” Williams quickly stepped in and joked, “It’s a period piece.”

Winner of a Grammy in 2003 for best spoken comedy album, “Robin Williams – Live 2002,” he once likened his act to the daily jogs he took across the Golden Gate Bridge. There were times he would look over the edge, one side of him pulling back in fear, the other insisting he could fly.

“You have an internal critic, an internal drive that says, ‘OK, you can do more.’ Maybe that’s what keeps you going,” Williams said. “Maybe that’s a demon. . . .  Some people say, ‘It’s a muse.’ No, it’s not a muse! It’s a demon! DO IT YOU BASTARD!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! THE LITTLE DEMON!!”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 4 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • AuryAugust 12, 2014 - 12:44 am

    Anyone remember the film, "What Dreams May Come" with the topics of Heaven and Hell and death and suicide? A part of the Hell sequence was filmed in Vallejo.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • 2realAugust 12, 2014 - 6:22 am

    R.i.p. robin. One of the best actors of all time.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Demarquis Abdullah WashingtonAugust 12, 2014 - 11:25 am

    Robin was amongst the greats and we loved him as Mrs. Doubtfire and Adrian Kronauer. Yeah, he will be missed and he gets 3 stars with one star awarded posthumously. My favorite? Probably another Norcal local kid, Dana Carvey. I'm sorry, but I have high standards and expectations. If a comedian can make you laugh so hysterically that you lose control over your bowels and stomach contents, then he or she has done a great job!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JimboAugust 12, 2014 - 10:07 pm

    This really touched deep. He was part of the narrative of my lifetime, and a very funny one at that.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Girl Scouts explore sweet side of chemistry

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Time again for my Cheers and Jeers

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2, 4 Comments

Total Home, Garden & Harvest Festival wraps up

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Pumpkin Patch Festival set for final weekend

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

 
Sessions teach about child support process

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

Arrivederci! Italian Festival

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Red Kettle Program returns for holidays

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

Holiday Fashion Extravaganza registration deadline looms

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

 
Elder depression and substance abuse topic of discussion

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

Vacaville library to host composting series

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

 
Senior Center hosts monthly travel presentation

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A3

Napa man jailed for running over ex-girlfriend

By Staff and wire reports | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
Local governments schedule meetings

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A4

Weather for Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Expelled Nazis paid millions in Social Security

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Cruise ship docks with Ebola-watched health worker

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Friends, family of Ebola patient reach milestone

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Obama switches gears, confronting Ebola head on

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

CDC to revise Ebola protocol, Pentagon preps team

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
California lottery sales top $5B for first time

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Archaeologists seek movie set in California sands

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
The 10 semifinalists for World’s Funniest Person

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

On the road to find the world’s funniest person

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
New England raking in millions from leaf peepers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Police hunt for clues near where Va. remains found

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Super drunk woman arrested, mistook jail for bar

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Robotic device helps paralyzed groom walk aisle

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Coroner: 6 fire victims died of smoke inhalation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Pope beatifies Paul VI at remarkable synod’s end

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
S. Korea: 2 Koreas exchange gunfire along border

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Sweden: 3 credible sightings in submarine search

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
5 Things to Know about Pope Paul VI

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

UN says Iraq has executed 60 people this year

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Marine accused in Philippine killing tests US ties

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

.

Opinion

Is it truly affordable health care?

By Jim Mccully | From Page: A8, 10 Comments

 
Suisun mayor offers his endorsements

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

Which candidates support Alzheimer’s cure?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Beware a Trojan horse

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

Pulse poll question

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Oct. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Oct. 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

I’m too scared to leave my abusive husband of 15 years

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Oct. 20, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Oct. 21, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

 
TVGrid Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

Comedians honor Jay Leno with humor prize in DC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Report: Nashville songwriter Paul Craft dies at 76

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Reported ‘Easy Rider’ chopper sells at auction

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
‘New Girl,’ ‘Cosmos’ win Environmental Media Award

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

‘Letterman’ cue card man fired for colleague clash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
‘Fury’ blasts ‘Gone Girl’ from top of box office

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

.

Sports

Manning breaks Favre’s TD mark in 42-17 win over 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Tim Lincecum waits his turn, still yet to pitch

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Keselowski keeps title hopes alive at Talladega

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Palmer leads Cardinals past Raiders 24-13

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Kings pick up G Ben McLemore’s option

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rockets beat Warriors 90-83 in exhibition game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Pacquiao makes professional basketball debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Cal receiver Trevor Davis released from hospital

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sounders rally for 2-2 tie with LA Galaxy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Rangers net 2 in 4 seconds; Lundqvist stops Sharks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

NFL roundup: Jaguars bounce Browns, gets first win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
SEC is 1st conference to put 4 in top 5 of AP poll

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Ski champ Svindal injured while playing soccer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Serena Williams hits back at Russian official

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

This date in sports history for Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Royals dependent on 3-headed bullpen monster

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Hend wins Hong Kong Open in a playoff

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Baek wins playoff to take LPGA South Korea

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Ilonen beats Stenson in World Match Play final

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Jay Haas wins Greater Hickory Kia Classic

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Ben Martin wins 1st PGA Tour title in Las Vegas

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Denkinger’s miss revisited as Series returns to KC

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Facebook, Apple pay for egg freezing, sperm donors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

B.C. Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield October 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Bridge Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku Oct 20

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Dilbert Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Beetle Bailey Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
B.C. Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Frank and Ernest Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Blondie Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Garfield Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baldo Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baby Blues Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Zits Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Wizard of Id Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Bridge Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Sudoku Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Crossword Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Word Sleuth Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Cryptoquote Oct 21

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7