July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014
It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write this post today. Last night the world found out about a tragic and unexpected death: that of Robin Williams.
The news outlets and initial police report have said it was an apparent suicide by asphyxiation, which shocks us all a bit more since he seemed to be always happy, making everyone laugh with his jokes, spirit, energy and contagious laughter. He apparently had it all: a loving wife, a wonderful daughter, the affection his family and friends, the respect of his peers, the admiration of millions around the world, an outstandingly quick mind, a kind heart and fame and fortune. However, he struggled with alcoholism and cocaine addiction and suffered from depression. I am disheartened he had to battle such demons and I hope his spirit is now at peace.
It is not the first time I am compelled to write something on MVD about a public figure that has passed away, but it is certainly the saddest news of a celebrity passing that I have ever experienced. I think this and George Harrison´s death (when Lennon died I was 3) have hit me the hardest. There are tears in my eyes as I write this and all around the world there is a sense of grief. It is so strange how someone I never met can seem so familiar. I grew up watching him, he was a light when I was a child. I recognize and remember his voice, his hyper energy, his improve skills, I feel as if a close friend died with him, so surreal, maybe it only proves the fact that we are not separate, we are all part of a whole.
Yesterday I was reminded of the Aria “Vesti la guibba” (Put on the costume) from the opera Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo. It is a devastating tribute to the “tragic clown”: smiling on the outside but crying on the inside.
“Act! While in delirium,
I no longer know what I say,
and what I do!
And yet it’s necessary… make an effort!
Bah! Are you a man?
You are a clown!
Put on your costume and powder your face.
People pay, and they want to laugh.
And if Harlequin shall steal your Columbina,
laugh, clown, and everyone will cheer!
Turn your distress and tears into jest,
your pain and sobbing into a funny face – Ah!
at your broken love!
Laugh at the grief that poisons your heart!”
I have been online today and cannot begin to pick a favorite performance, a favorite quote or interview. He was simply a comedy genius. On my mind especially are his daughter Zelda (story of her name and Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg, with whom he did “Comic Relief” from 1986 to 2006 (I must also say I avidly watched every year). And his co stars in TV Series, specially in “Happy Days” and “Mork and Mindy”, his stand up comedy partners, and his partners and co-stars in unforgettable films such as “Good Morning Vietnam”, “The Adventures Of Baron Munchhausen”, “Dead´s Poet Society” (one of my favorite movies ever), “Awakenings“, “The Fisher King” (another personal favorite), “Hook” (another one…), “Aladdin“, “Toys“, “Mrs. Doubtfire“, “Being Human“, “Nine Months“, “Jumanji“, “The Birdcage”, “Jack“, “Deconstructing Harry“, “Good Will Hunting“, “What Dreams May Come” (very sad plot about a husband looking for his wife who committed suicide), “Patch Adams“, “Bicentennial Man“, “Night At The Museum” and many, many more.
I thought this “Life in pictures” was nice.
Since there are so many clips to chose from, I chose one clip from his unscripted interview in The Actor´s Studio. His interview lasted five hours and they did 2 shows on him (I have watched it all and it is HILARIOUS) so if you have the time, watch it. Here is the first 4:15 minutes of a once in a lifetime, un-containable, bigger than anything mind:
I have read some of the reactions to his death, but there are three tweets that I think sum up the general feeling at the moment: