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Opinion: Robin Williams a decorated actor, celebrated funnyman

Actor and comedian Robin Williams died Aug. 11.  Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Actor and comedian Robin Williams died Aug. 11.
Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Legendary actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead in his Tiburon, Calif. home early this evening. He was 63 years old.

His death is speculated to be self-inflicted.

Williams was born in Chicago in 1951 and rose to fame as Mork in the television series “Mork and Mindy.” He would go on to star in such films as “Good Morning, Vietnam,” “Dead Poets Society” and “Good Will Hunting,” for which he won an Oscar. He also appeared on Broadway and was a celebrated stand-up comedian.

Williams had well-documented struggles with drugs and alcohol throughout his life. He fought cocaine addiction in the ’70s and ’80s, and in 2006, he checked into a rehabilitation center for alcoholism.

He is survived by his wife, Susan Schneider, and three children.

Called the “funniest man alive” by “Entertainment Weekly” in 1997, Williams enjoyed one of the most influential and versatile careers in comedy. Both his comedic and dramatic works showcase a talented actor – truly one of the best of his generation.  The same man who was Mrs. Doubtfire was also John Keating – a remarkable feat.

While his genius is now at the forefront of mourners’ minds, it’s difficult to forget Williams’ vices. The reasons behind his death remain speculative at this point, but it’s easy to draw a corollary between today’s tragedy and his past problems with substance abuse. His death brings to mind the recent loss of another troubled genius, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Though their public personas could not be more dissimilar, Hoffman and Williams turned in two of the best acting works in recent memory.

We might never know the reason why the intensely creative turn to substance. What we do know, though, is that the troubled mind often produces brilliant work — and Williams will be remembered as one of the most brilliant actors of his time.


  1. When I heard the sad news I thought of Audra McDonald’s (Juilliard alum like Robin and my daughter)great CBS Sunday Morning interview. Glad she didn’t commit suicide (just won a Tony) because that biz is brutal. While Whitney sings in heaven Robin will keep everyone laughing. Tom Joyner, Tears of a Clown by Smokey was a great tribute song this morning. Well Kevin Spacey you carry the torch in my daughter’s “Those who survived Juilliard” jokes! hahahaha RIP Robin!!! Just got back from seeing Get On Up a great movie……

  2. whoever wrote that comment really has no sense of respect. Who cares if your daughter went to Juilliard? You clearly dont get that mental illness is a serious matter far greater of concern than movies or comedy. Thoughts go to Robin’s family and close friends.

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