Remembering the late, great Robin Williams
He was best known to some as a loveable alien named Mork. To others, he was a fast talking blue genie, an elderly British nanny, an unconventional doctor, or a Vietnam War era armed services radio disc jockey beloved by the troops. Robin Williams was loved by legions of fans. Though he is sadly no longer with us, his legacy lives on through the many roles he portrayed during his illustrious career.
Williams landed his first break out role in the 1970s in the part of a loveable alien named Mork. According to an interview with Bravo’s Inside The Actor’s Studio, Williams said the idea for Mork and Mindy took shape after Happy Days creator Gary Marshall’s then eight-year-old son, a big fan of a then new hit film Star Wars, asked if an alien could visit the Happy Days gang in a future episode.
Marshall liked the idea but finding the right actor wasn’t easy and the episode was almost scrapped. At the eleventh hour, Robin Williams landed the role. What was intended only to be a one episode character proved to so popular that in the fall of 1978, Williams and Mork got their own hit spin-off, which ran on ABC from 1978-1982.
Williams’ transition from the small screen to the silver screen proved difficult at first. His first starring role as the title character in the live action cartoon movie Popeye wasn’t well received and the film bombed at the box office. His early to mid-1980s roles films such as The World According to Garp, The Survivors, Moscow on the Hudson, and Club Paradise drew mixed responses from audiences.
But Williams struck box office gold with 1987s Good Morning, Vietnam. Set in 1965 during the Vietnam War, Williams played armed forces disc jockey Adrian Cronauer, a role for which he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Williams’s box office success continued with 1989s Dead Poet Society, which earned him a second Oscar nomination, this time for Best Actor, and 1991s The Fisher King. That same year, Williams starred as a grown up Peter Pan in Hook, beating out Michael Jackson, Tom Hanks and Kevin Kline for the role.
A year later, Williams starred in one of his best loved and most well remembered roles, as the Genie in 1992s animated hit Aladdin.
In 1993, Williams struck box office gold once again with the comedy Mrs. Doubtfire in which he portrayed a divorced, out work actor who masquerades as an elderly British nanny to spend more time with his children.
The film was a huge hit and was the number two highest grossing film of the year, behind Jurassic Park. In 1997, Williams earned an Oscar for Best Supporting actor for his role as Dr. Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting.
In 2002, Williams gave us a glimpse into his dark side in two acclaimed roles, One Hour Photo and Insomnia.
This holiday season we’ll once again see Williams in two roles he completed before his passing. Merry Friggin’ Christmas, due out Nov. 7 and Night at the Museum 3: Battle of the Smithsonian, in which Williams reprised his role as a wax museum President Teddy Roosevelt come to life.
In 2015, Absolutely Anything will be released, where Williams provided the voice of Dennis the Dog.
Thanks to the magic of DVDs, Blu-Rays and Netflix, Williams’ legacy will live on.
Tribute to Robin Williams by Chuck Brutz for Pennsylvania Bridges