Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014) was born on this date 70 years ago. Starting as a stand-up comedian in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the mid-1970s, he is credited with leading San Francisco's comedy renaissance. After rising to fame as Mork in the sitcom Mork & Mindy (1978–82), he went on to establish a career in both stand-up comedy and feature film acting. He was known for his improvisational skills. After his film debut in the musical comedy Popeye (1980), he starred or co-starred in widely acclaimed films, including the comedy-drama The World According to Garp (1982), war comedy Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), dramas Dead Poets Society (1989) and Awakenings (1990), comedy-drama The Fisher King (1991), animated musical fantasy Aladdin (1992), drama Good Will Hunting (1997), and psychological thriller One Hour Photo (2002), as well as financial successes such as the fantasy adventure film Hook (1991), comedy Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), fantasy adventure Jumanji (1995), comedy The Birdcage (1996), and fantasy adventure-comedy Night at the Museum (2006).In 1998, Williams won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Dr. Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting. He also received two Primetime Emmy Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and four Grammy Awards throughout his career.On August 11, 2014, Williams committed suicide by hanging himself at his home in Paradise Cay, California. It was revealed shortly after his death that Williams had been suffering from severe depression, Parkinson's disease, and diffuse Lewy body dementia
Williams in Washington, D.C. in 1996Williams voiced characters in several animated films. His voice role as the Genie in the animated musical Aladdin (1992) was written for him. The film's directors said they had taken a risk by writing the role. At first, Williams refused the role since it was a Disney movie, and he did not want the studio profiting by selling merchandise based on the movie. He accepted the role with certain conditions: "I'm doing it basically because I want to be part of this animation tradition. I want something for my children. One deal is, I just don't want to sell anything—as in Burger King, as in toys, as in stuff." Williams improvised much of his dialogue, recording approximately 30 hours of tape, and impersonated dozens of celebrities, including Ed Sullivan, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Groucho Marx, Rodney Dangerfield, William F. Buckley Jr., Peter Lorre, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Arsenio Hall. His role in Aladdin became one of his most recognized and best-loved, and the film was the highest-grossing of 1992; it won numerous awards, including a Special Golden Globe Award for Vocal Work in a Motion Picture for Williams. His performance led the way for other animated films to incorporate actors with more star power. He was named a Disney Legend in 2009.Due to Disney breaking an agreement with Williams regarding the use of the Genie in the advertising for Aladdin, Williams refused to sign on for the direct-to-video sequel The Return of Jafar (1994), where the Genie was instead voiced by Dan Castellaneta. When Jeffrey Katzenberg was replaced by Joe Roth as Walt Disney Studios chairman, Roth organized a public apology to Williams. Williams would, in turn, reprise the role in the second sequel Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996).Williams continued to provide voices in other animated films, including FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992), Robots (2005), Happy Feet (2006), and an uncredited vocal performance in Everyone's Hero (2006). He also voiced the holographic character Dr. Know in the live-action film A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001). He was the voice of The Timekeeper, a former attraction at the Walt Disney World Resort about a time-traveling robot who encounters Jules Verne and brings him to the future.
I miss his greatness and talent immensely!