Robin Williams, Hollywood’s beloved comedian and actor, died today at the age of 63 after suffering a fatal intracerebral hemorrhage. The Emmy-winning actor was found in his home in Maui, Hawaii by his wife, Elaine, who is a travel agent. She had flown to the island with their five children so that Robin could spend time with his family. He could have easily gone to visit his daughter, Zoe, who lives in Los Angeles.
Hollywood has lost a legendary figure and a true original. His comedy gave us classics like Mrs. Doubtfire and Dead Poets Society, and for those of us who grew up watching his work, it is difficult to believe that Robin Williams is gone.
Here are seven things you probably didn’t know about Robin Williams.
He Was One Of The First Famous To Use His Death To Benefit Charity
Shortly after Robin Williams was found dead, his wife, Elaine, started an organization called the Robin Williams Children’s Fund, which will provide college scholarships to his children.
The organization’s first and principal focus is on mental health and on helping young people who are struggling with mental health issues. They plan to give scholarships to 12 children as a tribute to Robin Williams and as a way to raise funds.
On April 12, 2017, the fund held its first annual gala for the mentally ill in Williams’ honor. The event was attended by family, friends, luminaries, and even a few celebrities who had worked with Robin on camera or in the theater. Guests paid tribute to the actor by donating to the fund or by wearing black clothing, which is how Robin often dressed on screen.
He Was First To Play Two Characters At Once
Although he was most famous for playing one character, Robin Williams did try out of duty to play two characters at once. He even won an Emmy for his portrayal of both Truman Capote and Philip Glass in the miniseries Truman.
The idea for playing dual roles was originally suggested to Robin Williams by his first wife, Valerie. She had watched him play multiple characters in his stand-up routine and suggested that he give it a try for real. He didn’t immediately respond, but decided to give it a try when his second wife, Joanne, got pregnant. She was about to give birth to their daughter, Amanda, and needed some time off to recover. So in the last half of 1984, he played the parts of Philip Glass and Truman Capote in The Final Season.
He Was A Masterful Improviser
As a comedian and actor, Robin Williams was always looking for ways to improve his craft. He never had a problem taking a joke or an incident and turning it into a funny story or bit.
The great comic actor George Burns once said of Robin Williams, “He’s one of the best improvisers I’ve ever seen. He can make up a situation in the middle of a scene, and it will seem improvised. But it’s really not. He’s very good at it. He’s an artist. He’s a natural.”
Robin Williams may have started his career as a stage actor before becoming a movie star. Yet, his cinematic qualities were apparent even in his early work. Take The Rosey Lee Show as an example. It’s a 1964 play that Williams had co-wrote and that was later made into a film. While in the play, he was only supposed to play one part, that of a chauffeur. Yet, he convinced the director to let him do a comedy routine, which was later included in the film. It’s a hilarious routine, but it wasn’t improvised. Williams wrote most of it and got the laughs in the rehearsal process. The director recognized his comedic talent, so he allowed him to ad-lib during the filming of the play.
He Was A Larger-Than-Life Supportive Person
One of Robin Williams’ most endearing qualities was his ability to support and cheer up his friends and family members. He was known to have such strong bonds with those around him that it was often difficult for those who knew him to accept his physical shortcomings and emotional issues.
Robin Williams was the ultimate performance buddy. He would often help his best friends and costars to prepare for their roles by performing the necessary physical exercises with them. When it came to his daughters, he could be seen giving them piggybacks, helping them practice their dance steps, and playing monster tennis with them. He always found the time to give his friends and family members a pep talk or an encouraging word. Through his comedy and movies, he helped millions of people to keep their spirits up and to believe that they could achieve anything they set their minds to. So, when it came to his supportiveness, those around him knew exactly what they were getting into.
His Appearance Inspires Feelings Of Comfort And Affection
Whenever someone new would meet Robin Williams, no matter what setting or situation, they would immediately feel comfortable and at home around him. He had such a friendly and generous personality that he would make anyone feel welcome and want to be around him. His smile was one of the biggest weapons in his arsenal, as it could melt even the coldest of hearts.
While working at a gas station one afternoon in 1984, Robin Williams noticed a girl looking rather sad and alone. So he walked over and asked her if she needed anything. She said she was okay, but that she was struggling with an English assignment. So, in order to help her out, he offered to help her with her grammar. She gratefully accepted, and the two continued to converse about English grammar as they walked to her car. As soon as they got in, Robin started laughing. Something about her amused him so much that he began laughing so hard that the girl had to ask him why he was laughing. He then told her that he was testing her grammar, and that her English was very good, but that she missed a few prepositions and conjunctions. The girl then began laughing, and the two became fast friends.
This is how Robin began befriending many people, often strangers, who happened to be around when he was performing. One of these people was D.C. Douglas, who would later become the Mayor of Santa Monica. After one performance, the mayor told Robin that he had to meet him for lunch the next day. Since then, the two men have had countless meals and shared drinks together. Even after all these years, Robin still made sure to stop by the mayor’s home occasionally just to see how he was doing.
He Was A Family-Oriented Person
Although he was a professional man who maintained an excellent work ethic, Robin Williams was still very much a family man at heart. After his first wife divorced him, he went on to marry his second wife, Joanne, and the two of them had three children. The family continued to grow, as he later fathered a child with his third wife, Valerie. While in the middle of a custody battle over his two youngest daughters, the actor suffered a severe heart attack. This was around the same time that his first wife was killed in a car accident, so he couldn’t help but feel some pain and isolation at the time.
After his recovery, he decided that he would try to be a better father to his children. So, he enrolled in a parenting class and started reading children’s books to his daughters. He also bought them their first pet, a hamster, which he named Mr. Snuggly.
The actor’s life was not just about work. He also used his fame and fortune to establish The Trevor Project, a crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization specifically for LGBTQ teens. He wanted to give back to the community that helped him turn his career around after his divorce from Valerie. He wanted to provide help to those who needed it most, especially since he knew how easy it was for LGBTQ youth to feel like they had nowhere to turn.
Many Thought He Was The Most Genuine Person They Had Ever Met
Although Robin Williams was incredibly successful in his career, he never really made much money. During the height of his movie-star days, he and his managers would often find themselves in the unenviable position of having to choose between paying the rent or buying groceries. So, it was no secret that he had money troubles. Yet, it was never about the money for Robin Williams. He always wanted to give the fans, friends, and family members the best experiences possible. He didn’t have thousands of dollars to spend on luxuries, so he would often turn to smaller expenses, like restaurant tabs, to help him out. When he and his friends went on vacation to Europe, they would buy a round-trip ticket so that he could fly back home for Christmas. He was never one to enjoy luxuries, but always looked out for his closest friends and family.