Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Goodbye to a Legend

Originally Published On: 8/13/14
Remembering Robin Williams

A magnificent cloud of joy and laughter has been stripped from the skylines of our souls and life seems a little less beautiful. When my best friend texted me I never imagined the content would be so heart-wrenching. To see the name Robin Williams next to the word “dead” made my body numb as if in a warped sense of reality. My heart dropped, intensifying the numbness...and not that my friend would ever joke about something like that, turning on the TV made the reality of the situation absolutely devastating. I desperately wanted them to say, “I’m sorry, we made a mistake. He’s not dead after all.”

To me, like so many others, Robin Williams was more than just a great actor that has appeared in so many favorite and likeable films. He himself was an extraordinary human being. A heart so deep with a level of passion that is matched by so few. His humanitarian efforts whether local (St. Jude’s, Comic Relief) or abroad (i.e. visiting the troops) were so selfless and inspiring. Here was a man that had everything, but lent his talents (a brilliant comedic mind) to others in order to uplift and motivate. 

Robin Williams, especially in my teens, was not an angel on my shoulder, but more like a motivator on my shoulder. I was never part of a great half-time speech. One where it’s remembered forever and reiterated at reunions. [“Remember coach said…?”] Instead, Robin was my coach at halftime. Before having to go to work (albeit a dishwasher or ice cream scooper) I would always play part of a Robin movie. His Oscar-nominated performance in The Fisher King was particularly inspiring. But no matter if it was a dramatic or comedic film or a combination of both, his ability as an actor and comedian resonated within me and just gave me that push to go to work and not be in such a foul mood about it. 

I am not sure the first time I realized how extraordinarily amazing he was, but I think it was a friend that was watching a stand-up routine of his and he told me that he improvises everything. The fact that someone could go out there and just go on and on about something off the top of their head was truly spectacular. It wouldn’t be long until I realized that the world thought so too. Sure, like all actors, he had some bad movies, but to not appreciate his genius makes you a schmuck in my opinion. I was always amazed by his mind. It was so big, so full of information and to combine that with a zany and manic personality you get one of the most unique and gifted entertainers who no one will  ever come close to matching and certainly not surpassing. He was the epitome of lightning wit, superb intelligence, kindness and generosity.

To say he had a profound effect on me would be an understatement. When a Robin movie came out, I was in the theater. No questions asked. I saw Mrs. Doubtfire four times and Good Will Hunting three times…among countless  others, but he had a special knack for transcending  my spirit through his performances. I would give anything to have the talent to stand in front of people and make them laugh for hours. I have had only one occasion where I put myself in front of an audience in hopes they would laugh (Who’s on First 1993 Talent Show) and even though it was a roaring success I don’t think I’ll ever be on stage for that purpose again (although even today, watching the Genie or him on a late night talk show, I feel energized like I should be on stage). But I owe Robin Williams credit for inspiring a pretty quiet guy to gather the courage not only to do a classic Abbott and Costello skit, but also to be part of my one and only play (Can’t Take it With You).

I’m not considered a funny person, but boy did Robin ever instill in me the passion to want to be (I haven't given up though). I’m not a big fan of the pompous, greedy, and selfish people of Hollywood. It's irritating how we view them as being better than us. However, Robin was one of the few worth emulating. He was part of a foursome that I desperately wanted to meet someday. A foursome that if you know anything about me pretty much comes up in every conversation that I have. Now it’s down to three. I’m saddened by the level of sadness he felt. Saddened and confused about how someone so selfless and funny could feel no hope. *Now we know he suffered from dementia. One day (“when the stars fall from the sky”) I will get to meet you, Robin. You once said that you hope there is laughter in heaven. I’m sure there is, and if there wasn’t before, there is now. I’ll miss you Robin. Thank you for empowering me with the confidence I struggled to find on my own. Thank you for being “My Captain”.

Just added this top clip. Hilarious! Robin explains the invention of golf.

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