You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it — Robin Williams.
We recognise him from such films as Mrs Doubtfire, Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting, but the truth is that Robin Williams felt much like an uncle to many of us.
His death at 63 in his Californian home, then, feels like a personal blow to both the comedy world and the world at large.
A full investigation into Williams’ death will be conducted by the Marin County Coroner’s Office, but it’s believed the actor took his own life.
Williams first achieved fame with his TV comedy Mork & Mindy, before going on to feature in a number of acclaimed films, such as Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), Good Will Hunting (1997), Mrs Doubtfire (1993) and Jumanji (1995). He was nominated for the Oscar four times and won Best Supporting Actor for his role in Good Will Hunting.
Williams’ publicist, Mara Buxbam, said the star had recently been battling ‘severe depression’. He had also recently entered a 12-step rehab program for drug abuse, to ‘fine-tune and focus his sobriety’ after working a more taxing shooting schedule.
Tributes have poured in over social media, with fellow comedians Steve Martin and Ellen DeGeneres, and actors Mia Farrow and Williams Mrs Doubtfire daughter Mara Wilson voicing their heartbreak.
US president Barack Obama weighed in on the loss, calling Williams talent ‘immeasurable’ and the man ‘one of a kind.’
Elsewhere, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science tweeted a screenshot from Williams’ 1992 film Aladdin, in which his character the Genie is released from captivity.
Genie, you’re free. pic.twitter.com/WjA9QuuldD
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) August 12, 2014
As another of my friends commented, it’s heartbreaking to think that Williams — someone who’s offered the world so much hope — could lose his own. But it’s not simply his brilliant talent and penchant for tossing aside one-liners that’s been lost; it’s the presence of a man who neither shunned his fans nor presented himself as superior to budding comics or your average supermarket shopper; and a man who was, according to all reports, remarkably and defiantly candid about his demons.
O captain, my captain?
Rest in peace.