Patterico's Pontifications


Robin Williams, Dead at 63

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:44 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Major news outlets are reporting on the apparent suicide of comedian Robin Williams earlier today at his Tiburon home. Those of us familiar with his career probably recall that he has had past battles with drugs and alcohol, and according to his publicist he had been battling severe depression for several years.

Important Note: Our host wishes to observe a rule that the immediate aftermath of a notable person’s death is not a good time to criticize the personal behavior or politics of that person. While I personally subscribe more to Voltaire’s belief of the dead, I want to admonish all of us (me included) to be respectful and observe our host’s wishes. I think that while critical examination of Mr. Williams’ movies and comedy career are fair game, we should avoid venturing into the personal and hope that he finds the peace in death that apparently eluded him in life.


41 Responses to “Robin Williams, Dead at 63”

  1. This is a loss that will be felt deeply by multiple generations. Terribly, terribly sad news.

    M. Scott Eiland (15aac4)

  2. “Nano, nano.” Rest in peace.

    aunursa (82afe2)

  3. Always respected his effort to entertain the troops.

    mg (31009b)

  4. Too bad we’ve fallen so far as a society that we (justly) have to be admonished to have respect for the dead. Robin Williams was a talented guy, not just a funny guy, either. He was very good in “Insomnia”, for example. Hope he’s at peace.

    jpg (fb3073)

  5. SHAZBOT!!!

    Icy (e6ea2c)

  6. Sad, very sad. Rest In Peace Robin Williams.

    Ipso Fatso (10964d)

  7. I loved his work in “Awakenings.”

    Otto Maddox (990b3b)

  8. My fondest memory of RW is how he demurred at being called a
    comic genius during a 60 minutes interview and, instead, led
    the camera crew to visit his neighbor, Jonathan Winters, who RW
    considered to be a real comic genius.

    felipe (40f0f0)

  9. I was shocked to find out he was only 63, particularly in light of the recent pix that I’d seen –
    that candle burned too brightly.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  10. We lost Winters last year, who had successfully battled his own
    demons. I wonder if RW felt (more?) lost without him?

    felipe (40f0f0)

  11. I didn’t care for Robin Williams’ movies. I just browsed through his list of credits on IMDB and I can’t say that I found one of them featuring him in a leading role that I thought was decent. He was way too much of a scenery-chewer and show-off for me, and his predilection for emotionally-manipulative but substantially hollow roles was bothersome. I suppose that Good Morning, Vietnam was somewhat passable, but I simply loathed Dead Poets Society and I thought his Oscar-winning role in Good Will Hunting presaged the sort of dreck he later did in Patch Adams and Jakob the Liar.

    I’m not completely familiar with his stand-up routines. I’m sure there are bits of his that I found funny, perhaps even uproariously so, but I tend to be annoyed by the more manic side of his schtick. But that’s probably more related to my own tastes, and I have no doubt that plenty of intelligent and discerning people found a lot to like in his style. To me he was our generation’s Jerry Lewis, with all the good and bad implied in that designation.

    JVW (638245)

  12. Awful, awful news.

    SarahW (267b14)

  13. I found it interesting, even informative, that within hours of the publication of the news of RW’s death President Obama weighed in with his feelings on the matter. I am still awaiting the president’s comments on the death of our Major General last week at the hands of the people he was trying to civilize. Maybe I missed it. If so, I apologize.

    Gramps, the original (fb52f1)

  14. Among his serious film roles, a really amazing performance that is little heralded is “The Final Cut”

    In the almost unwatchable Kenneth Branagh/Emma Thompson film, “Dead Again”, Robin Williams played a grocery store butcher who was a defrocked psychologist that Branagh’s character consults with. A great scene in a mediocre film.

    SPQR (c4e119)

  15. One of my favorite gags of his was when he said of unarmed British cops, they shout, “Stop…or I’ll say stop again.”

    Gazzer (e04ef7)

  16. Very funny guy. Almost as funny as Fox deifying him as we speak.

    Dana (4dbf62)

  17. Yeah i have a special contempt for dead poets society… but the whole movie not just robin’s bits


    Very very similar to the contempt I have for the abysmal American Beauty btw

    happyfeet (f352ee)

  18. Wasn’t he in AI too? I can’t remember

    That’s another gem

    I got your blue fairy right here

    happyfeet (f352ee)

  19. I liked Awakenings, but then, I like Oliver Sacks.

    SarahW (267b14)

  20. I didn’t really care for his lass outing with Sarah Michelle Geller — he seemed to be pushing Mork a bit too hard — but most of what he’d done has been excellent. His take on Asimov’s Bicentennial Man is superb.

    I still remember discovering him that first night with Mork and Mindy. He’ll be missed.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  21. Didn’t Buffy’s father in law kill himself too?

    happyfeet (f352ee)

  22. hmmm…. nah, I’m sure the reason he died
    was that he refused 0bama gay sex attempts
    Robin williams then must of saw this video of the 0bama/dems
    aka ‘the taliban’ (since Dems are all lifetime members of
    groups that are Anti-American
    he then saw the path they were taking the USA down
    and that just drove him over the edge

    YourMaster (c7e392)

  23. A very funny man. My wife and I were lucky enough to see him at the Laff Stop in Newport Beach just as his star shot on its meteor trajectory in ’78. You knew you were watching someone/something very, very special.

    Colonel Haiku (0f1c4b)

  24. The fact that a number of people on this blog whose opinions I respect seem to find Robin Williams entertaining suggests to me that my aversion to him is really just a result of my taste in comedy. I simply don’t like his brand of comedy, and that’s probably why I find Will Farrell exceedingly tiresome.

    But can’t we all agree that Dead Poets Society (the whole movie, as happyfeet points out, not just Williams’ performance) is completely execrable?

    JVW (638245)

  25. So sad. Supposedly being treated for severe depression; perhaps the suicide is a consequence of effective anti-depressant medication.

    Thank you for the laughter, Mr. Williams, your sharp wit and ascorbic tongue. We will find it hard to find a replacement in our culture. Rest in Peace. May angels laugh you to your rest.

    htom (412a17)

  26. yeah I know that there’s pain and all but i tell you what – you hold on for one more day and you
    break free – break from the chains!

    the chains of depression

    true story

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  27. possibly apocryphal

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  28. I didn’t care for Robin Williams’ movies

    I thought his “Mrs Doubtfire” comedy was very well done. A friendly type of film, with a clever script, good production values, sort of in the same category with movies like “Groundhog Day” or “Nine to Five.” Sleeper-hit type of cinema. BTW, his death means a planned sequel to Doubtfire has been dropped.

    Williams probably suffered from a bio-chemical shortage of serotonin, a substance in the brain that greatly influences mood.

    Beyond just him, this particular era in human history seems like one big downhill slide. A moment in time when a shortage of socio-political sanity is converting the US into one big depressed mess.

    Mark (5758a9)

  29. Nine to Five

    i wonder if that one holds up

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  30. i love dolly parton more than beans ‘n fishsticks

    baby girl’s pushing 70 but she takes care of herself and has a winning attitude

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  31. I still get goosebumps if I come across Mrs Doubtfire, because he was a ringer for my dear old Nan. Although she was never a victim of a drive by fruiting.

    Gazzer (e04ef7)

  32. If you youtube burnett williams funeral you will find a piece that would have
    Jonathan Winters howling. May this funny man find peace.

    Bruxanne (050802)

  33. I didn’t like his movies. I don’t think that I’ve seen any all the way through except maybe Good Morning, Vietnam. I liked him as Mork. (Kind of like Travolta who’ll always be Vinnie Barbarino to me but I didn’t like him in that show either.) Could be that he was too ambitious in the roles he picked. Peter Pan? Seriously? Although that was one way-way stupid script. Still, he picked it.

    nk (dbc370)

  34. But can’t we all agree that Dead Poets Society (the whole movie, as happyfeet points out, not just Williams’ performance) is completely execrable?

    I’ll take your word for it.

    I don’t usually like broad comedy (and dislike Farrel and Adam Sandler and all their ilk) but Williams had the ability to do the unexpected and then do two or three unexpected turns from that. He was original.

    Then again, when he got repetitive, like on The Crazy Ones, it was old very fast.

    Here’s an example of him at the top of his form, on Carson in 1991:

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  35. His stand-up routines were epic. Completely schizo, but epic.

    JD (110bf3)

  36. I watched this back in the ’70s. My roommates and I sprung the cash to get HBO at the time, despite being in college and essentially broke. First world problems are not new.

    The inspiration led me to imitate Robin Williams pretending to be a Russian at a college party. The result was interesting in the sense that some girls thought I was a Russian. However, Aggie girls were not really that interested in dating a stupid guy wearing a backward military hat with a bad accent.

    Fast forward to being married with kids, despite the previous experience. He made me laugh. He made my kids laugh with “Aladdin.”

    Live, learn and laugh.

    Thanks, Robin.

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  37. I can’t say that I liked his films, with two exceptions. ALADDIN and THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN 9he played the king of the Moon, uncredited). I have reasons for my dislike, but they can wait for another day. I’m sorry top hear that he ended his own life. My Lady has battled depression for years.

    God rest you, Mr. Williams.

    C. S. P. Schofield (e8b801)

  38. I barely knew who he was. The little I saw of his work – the rapid talking of almost nonsense – wasn’t funny. But it seems he had becoe famous apart from his TV shows and moviesd. I didn’t know he was the voice of the genie in Alladin.

    Scott Pelley of CBS News came out with a special report about 10 or 15 minutes after the network evening news.

    Sammy Finkelman (4a5b32)

  39. No mention of him being in Happy Feet or Happy Feet 2? Odd that.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  40. perhaps the suicide is a consequence of effective anti-depressant medication.
    htom (412a17) — 8/11/2014 @ 7:11 pm

    Not sure exactly what you mean or what is your intent. It is true, and has been for a long time (before SSRI’s existed, let alone got blamed for suicide) that sometimes a person can be so depressed that in their near-catatonia they cannot plan or carry out a suicide, but as they begin to get better, often after medication is begun, they paradoxically are at increased risk for suicide because they now have the mental and physical energy to act on their emotions.

    Prior to Prozac and similar drugs, the medications were potentially dangerous in and of themselves such that docs would only give a weeks worth or so in the early going and see patients very frequently. It has evolved over the last 25 years that with the “safer” meds and medico-economic factors, patients are more often given a prescription for a month and “see me then”. My suspicion, though I do not have the data for it, is that this phenomenon is more responsible for increased awareness of suicide while on medication rather than side-effects of the medicine per se.
    Which means, IMO, that not using meds is not the answer, but closer supervision.

    Also, while we are discussing it; sometimes a person will appear to be “getting better” with less anxiety and fear, etc., because they have decided to commit suicide and are “relived” to have a way out of their misery.
    Hence someone who is depressed that is suddenly in a good mood and giving things away, wants to see people “to say goodbye” or wants to make a will, etc., may be actively planning their suicide. Usually this is seen with hindsight, but not foresight, as in the midst friends and family are just relieved to think their loved one is getting better.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  41. I was reading how shortly after Christopher Reeves was paralyzed, a man dressed in hospital scrubs and a facemask burst into his room. With a Russian accent he announced he was a proctologist and was there to give Reeves a rectal exam. It took a few minutes for Reeves to realize it was his friend Robin Williams, and he laughed for the first time since his accident. That’s huge.

    See, I’m sort of in the JVW camp. For the most part Robin Williams just wasn’t my cup of tea. But I don’t have to look very far to find good things to say about him. I also hugely respected the fact he went to the sandbox to entertain tens of thousands of troops. He made a lot of people laugh, even if it wasn’t always me. Even if I didn’t always get the humor, I did get the fact he was an enormous talent. And it isn’t like he never did anything I didn’t like. I enjoyed Jumanji and Mrs. Doubtfire, as did most.

    I suppose it’s good we all don’t have the same favorite comedian, because then we’d all be fighting over the same tickets to the show. Besides, what performer hasn’t disappointed at some point? I was listening to Dennis Miller the other day and they were discussing music. And they got to the question, who has never disappointed you? So Dennis made the obvious point, “I guess I have to go with people who produced low output.” Because, really, the only performers who don’t disappoint are the one-hit wonders. Or the comedy version of a one-hit wonder.

    The thing is, I like listening to Dennis Miller but sometimes his humor falls flat with me, too.

    Besides, it appears Robin himself was disappointed with some of his work. He was apparently depressed over the fact he had to take TV and movie roles he didn’t want just for a paycheck. In that sense, he was like the rest of us. I suppose if it weren’t that, it would have been something else because depression is treacherous.

    R.I.P. Robin Williams. You will be sorely missed.

    Steve57 (34b0af)

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