A comic genius with sparks of madness, Robin McLaurin Williams (1952-2014) was born on this day in Chicago, Illinois. An only child, in high school he was voted "most humorous" and "least likely to succeed."
"No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world," he once said.
A master of improvisation, Williams' wild comic talent followed in the footsteps of his childhood idol, comic Jonathan Winters. Williams' stream-of-consciousness delivery, made with unmatched exuberance, continued to be hilarious, incredible, and exhausting to watch.
"The standup has been a release -- the ultimate therapy," Williams explained. For four years he charmed audiences as Mork from the planent Ork on television's popular Mork and Mindy (1978-1982).
Trained in acting at Julliard with roommate Christopher Reeve, Williams took risks and showed range in films, winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Good Will Hunting (1997, with Matt Damon & Ben Affleck).
"I'm really starting to love making movies," he admitted. "At first, it was kind of a frightening experience."
Williams showed his versatility as an actor and won Oscar nominations for Best Actor for Good Morning, Vietnam, The Fisher King, and Dead Poets Society. He also voiced the Genie in the animated film Aladdin (1992).
He said, "I just want to keep playing different characters to change the perception of me being manic."
Williams was a driving force in Comic Relief to help the homeless.
Whether on stage, television, or in the movies, he remained passionate and honest. Williams reflected on aging. "I didn't think I'd see the next day. Then, when I got to be 40, you think, okay, and then hitting 50 has been really lovely. It was a celebration of a lot of things, making it and also of the great people I know."
Stay true to the brilliance of your spirit.