I, as everyone, was stunned by the news of Robin Williams' death by supposed suicide. I was a big fan. I saw many of his movies and whenever he was listed as a guest on a late night talk show I would stay up to watch because he was so entertaining.
What is remarkable to me about Robin Williams was how in his genius, improvisational imitations of people of different races, ethnicity, religions, genders, sexual persuasion, age, and size, no one ever took offense. In fact, the offended party cheered him on. That is remarkable in this day and age of political correctness. The fact that all sides of the pundit cable TV and radio spectrum honored him yesterday attests to Williams's far reaching popularity and how he related to us all. Maybe he really did come from another planet, as did Mork, his first starring role on TV's Mork And Mindy.
Maybe it is because he was an equal opportunity offender or he was a self-effacing comic. Those traits may have contributed to the phenomenon, but I think it was because he was just plain funny and he made it cool to laugh at one's self. Gays loved his turn as a gay man in The Bird Cage, people of all ages and sexes delighted in his portrayal as a woman in Mrs. Doubtfire.
Robin also knew how to take serious subjects and make us see the humor in them. He took the sting out of war in Good Morning, Vietnam. He made sick patients and children forget their illnesses for a while in Patch Adams. He helped Matt Damon laugh at himself when he played his psychologist in Good Will Hunting, a role for which he won an Oscar.
And the fact that Robin Williams was able to brilliantly play serious roles that were out of character for him, like the introverted doctor in Awakenings, is a testament to his acting abilities.
We lost a remarkable artist Monday and will be feeling his loss for some time. But I am glad we have the film work and legacy he left behind. I only wish he had been able to overcome his demons and accomplish for himself what he had done for others: make the world a brighter, happier, and more accepting place. RIP, Robin Williams. We will never forget you.