Aug 13, 2014

Robin Williams

Like everyone else, when I heard the news yesterday morning about the death of Robin Williams, I was shocked and upset. I was so shocked I exclaimed out loud, even though I was alone at the time.

Obviously the worst part is the loss of Robin Williams - to his family of course first and foremost, for whom it's a terrible tragedy, and to the world, for which it is a great loss and terribly sad. The next worst part is realising that someone who everyone loved so much was suffering so badly.  Who wouldn't have wanted to help?

Of course depression is not like that. Robin Williams was open about his mental health struggles, he loved life and his children, and he did seek help during his life. There has been plenty of really good stuff written about the nature of depression and about Robin Williams this week, which covers all this ground and why depression is not "sadness", depression has little to do with how rich, famous or loved you are, and how it is cruel and ignorant to call suicide "selfish".

I've been amazed the last 2 days to realise not how many people loved Robin Williams (we knew that), but how many people have said he helped them or saved them, or changed their lives.  When you look back on his career, it's no wonder. Has anyone else ever made so many films and TV shows, of such variety, and covering such territory? A colossal talent, he could do smart, funny, impersonations, slapstick, serious acting and famously, improvised comedy. He was in so much - and of such variety. He made films that held meaning for a lot of people: The World According to Garp, Dead Poets Society, Awakenings, Patch Adams, Good Morning Vietnam, The Fisher King, Good Will Hunting.

Last night I listened to Paul Verhoeven who was a guest on 774 ABC Radio, talk movingly about how Mrs Doubtfire, of all films, had saved him during an awful period of his teen years when he was being bullied and was on medication for depression.

Pandora wrote about how Dead Poets Society changed her.  Numerous people on Facebook have commented similarly.

I grew up loving Robin Williams in Mork and Mindy.

As an adult I loved him in Aladdin (the harbinger of the new style of manic, very funny kids' movies that we know today), and in Dead Poets Society, Good Morning Vietnam and Good Will Hunting.

My kids know him from Hook, Flubber and Night at the Museum 2.

Here are a few of my favourite Robin Williams quotes from some of these shows (with thanks to IMDB for filling in the gaps in my memory on a couple of the longer ones).

Mork and Mindy:
"Mindy, your mail has more windows than a Holiday Inn!" 

[Genie to magic carpet]: Yo, Rugman! Haven't seen you in a few millennia. Give me some tassel.
[explaining the three wishes rules to Aladdin]: And ixnay on the wishing for more wishes.

Mrs Doubtfire:
Mrs. Doubtfire: It was the drink that killed him.
Miranda: How awful. He was an alcoholic?
Mrs. Doubtfire: No, he was hit by a Guinness truck.

Good Morning Vietnam:
[making fun of army jargon]: Excuse me, sir. Seeing as how the V.P. is such a V.I.P., shouldn't we keep the P.C. on the Q.T.? 'Cause if it leaks to the V.C. he could end up M.I.A., and then we'd all be put out in K.P.

[doing a weather report]: The weather out there today is hot and shitty with continued hot and shitty in the afternoon. Tomorrow a chance of continued crappy with a pissy weather front coming down from the north.

"It's hot. Damn hot! Real hot!" ... What do you think it's going to be like tonight? "It's gonna be hot and wet! That's nice if you're with a lady, but it ain't no good if you're in the jungle."

My family all still do "It's hot! Damn hot!" in a crazed fake American accent, at some point every summer.

As Russell Brand put it yesterday:
Today Robin Williams is part of the sad narrative that we used to turn to him to disrupt.

Photo: Shameek/Flickr


  1. Jackie, great and interesting post about Robin.It was known around the world.

  2. Sadly he has become part of the great 'remember when'.

  3. Hi Jackie,

    Yes - he will be sorely missed. In particular I used to say "Shazbot" instead of swearing in front of the kids.

    Very sad - Nanoo Nanoo!




  4. Shocked though unsurprised. And, like a lot of people, it has been haunting me, taking my mind on an uncomfortable journey.

  5. A very sad loss for his family and the rest of the world that he gave so much to.

    My kids still do the "oh my god it's early" line.
    (0600, what's the 0 for? 0 my god it's early)



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