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The Hudsucker is an online magazine made up of unique and dedicated writers with fresh voices from across the country and overseas. Our team of writers are passionate and driven, bringing forth their personalities in each article. Since its inception in 2012, The Hudsucker has continuously proven how writing is our strongest fingerprint. By creating a smart and ambitious environment for readers, the digital magazine focusing on popular culture aims to be relatable through experiences and passions.

Remembering Robin Williams

Image Credit: CBC

Earlier this week, the death of actor and comedian, Robin Williams stunned not just his many fans around the world, but his family, close friends and co-stars from the film industry. Williams, 63, committed suicide in his California home on August 11—a death that came as an incredible shock to those that knew the certified comic genius. It was reported in the last few months that Williams was battling severe depression, and most recently revealed by his wife, Susan Schneider, that he was in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease.

The comedy legend, best known for his rapid-fire delivery and off-the-wall humor, got his big break on ABC’s 1978 sitcom Mork & Mindy, and went on to star in an eclectic mix of films over the years both drama and comedy, garnering much critical acclaim and three Academy Award nominations. In 1997, he won Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Dr. Sean Maguire in the Matt Damon-Ben Affleck film, Good Will Hunting. Williams will reprise his role as Theodore Roosevelt in the third installment of Night at the Museum this December.

This week, tributes and messages have been pouring in for Williams, with many describing the actor’s incredible heart and generosity through everything he gave audiences. It’s been evident throughout the years that these compliments are true because Williams really touched all of us through his comedy, his charity work and his overall warmth. Making another person laugh and light up from within is an art to master, and equally important to share. Laughter has the ability to bring comfort, while making those in a room feel much safer and welcomed. With every performance, film, and interview, Williams just did that for over three decades with a genuine love. Our writers share some of their favorite memories of Robin Williams through film or chance meetings, and what he meant to them.

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. And if you lose that, you’re nothing.”

Nicole:

I don’t even know where to begin about Robin Williams. I feel as though he has always been a part of my life and creative development. I can remember watching Mork & Mindy reruns as a kid and just being so entertained by him but also interested in the idea of aliens and space. I can remember his voice as it wafted down the hallway to my bedroom when my parents were watching Good Morning, Vietnam after sending my brother and I to bed.  Later, I adored him in Hook and Aladdin and pretty much every movie he was in was on my list of things I had to watch. Mrs. Doubtfire stands as one of my all-time favorite movies. I will also never forget his voice in Ferngully: The Last Rainforest. I wouldn’t realize it until I was an adult but watching his movies and work became the thread that wove all of my interests together—science, fairy tales, movies, robots (thank you, Bicentennial Man)—and made me really start to see that one could embrace many things and be many things while always being excellent at them while at the same time being an excellent person.  There was never any bad press about Robin Williams.  He was always a celebrity I could look up to and aspire to be like, entertaining and changing so many lives with his talents.

I don’t have a favorite performance of his. Truth is I love them all, but I think it was his performance in Dead Poets Society that truly changed my life. I was eleven when it came out and by then I had long-ago decided that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up but it wasn’t until I saw him in that movie did I see that being a teacher was so much more than imparting knowledge in a classroom. There was just something special about his performance that spoke to me. Yes, he was playing a teacher who was teaching his students about life as much as about books, but Robin Williams was also teaching grace, wonder, excitement, and dignity as a human being through that character. I knew then that I wanted to do more than just teach from books. I wanted to open minds and show people their own power and strength.

Ultimately I did teach from books for a while before moving through other interests to end up as a victim’s advocate. I help people see their power and their strength and I help them see that anything is possible. Sometimes, I make them laugh and I do it because Robin Williams first showed me that I could.

“I’m a born entertainer. When I open the fridge door and the light goes on, I burst into song.”

Chris: 

For me, Robin Williams was a symbol of freedom. With every performance, he showed everyone just how great it was to express and explore your own personality. His humor and general onscreen disposition also helped me grow personally, as well as kept me entertained.

My two favorite performances from Robin Williams have to be from his roles in Jumanji and One Hour Photo. I think that people often looked at him for his comedic works, but these two movies illustrate that he was indeed a phenomenal actor all around.

RIP Mr. Williams.

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

Cathie:

Impact is often not realized until something occurs to make you look back. When I was little, I had no way of knowing that this bizarre character Mork from Ork was going to stay with me well into adulthood. The idea that the man behind the alien who arrived in an eggship would shape my life in countless ways wasn’t even on my radar. Yet, that’s what Robin Williams has done. For as long as I can remember, he was someone that I was fascinated by. Whether it be a movie role, a TV appearance, or the best of all, when he was live and what would unfold was never predictable, he drew me in and made me pay attention. The energy in him and around him was palpable, even through a screen.

I had the unique experience of being face to face with this man. I will call it surreal, because the man that was next to me seemed very small in comparison to the one I’d grown up watching. Not small in stature, more shy, humble, quiet. He was there to give his time to an event, to introduce a friend, a community leader who had made an incredible impact in those recent months. He wanted no fuss, no media attention, and no one was the wiser that he was even in the building until he hit that stage. The sound that echoed through the room, I honestly can’t describe it. It’s the kind of thing that happens when you’re in the presence of greatness.

Greatness isn’t measured by wealth or fame, it’s measured by the type of person one is and how they carry themselves. Robin Williams’ greatness flew off the charts because of the latter. He cared about people. No matter their situation, age, race, beliefs, he cared for people, and we cared for him.

When my mom and I were shopping for our first DVD player, as soon as we chose one, I went right to the DVD section and selected my first, Good Will Hunting. This film, my God. One of the things I love about Robin Williams is that despite his larger than life persona, when you watch him in a film, he does get you to forget it’s him on the screen. He immerses himself in a character, and there is no finer example of this than Sean Maguire. I never tire of watching this movie, and I learn something from it with each viewing. Sean’s love for his wife is as beautiful as it is intense, his understanding and compassion for Will is equally as strong. This is a man who has lived through love and the pain of that loss had a way of stalling him. The film is essentially about the journey of the main character, but one can’t deny that Sean makes equal progress. I would loved to have a revisit to him five years after the film ended. Will may have stole his line, but he also rejuvenated his life. Like I said, it’s at the top of my list and something I will never forget because of Robin’s portrayal.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Genie from Aladdin. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am a bonafide Disney girl. It’s such a big part of my life, another thing that has been with me from childhood. I was thrilled to know that Robin was going to give a voice to Genie in the film, but it really has been so much more. Another sign of greatness, in my opinion, is when you can’t possibly envision another actor in a role. Again, this applies to Robin, and Genie comes to mind right away. Just thinking of that big blue bundle of joy makes you smile, doesn’t it? You hear his voice, and suddenly the music starts..when you’re not even watching the movie! I go to see Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular at Disney California Adventure as often as I can. It’s a live, Broadway caliber theater experience and the Genie is portrayed in a mold of the character Robin created. He is quick witted, very sharp with current events, and has incredible timing. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and it wouldn’t be the same show if Robin Williams hadn’t been the Genie to emulate.

It saddens me to think that a man who been a part of so many of us was in the kind of pain he was. I truly hope that this incredible loss opens eyes and ears and hearts. It’s said we all have a purpose in life. It would be easy to say Robin’s purpose was to entertain. There is no denying that, but even more than laughter and smiles and memorable roles, I believe he was here to teach us. The lessons from his time here are infinite, and we are all very lucky that we had him as a life coach. We will truly never have a friend like you again, Robin. Thank you for sharing your extraordinary gifts with us.

“Some are born great. Some achieve greatness. Some get it as a graduation gift.”

Tania:

I can’t remember what the first Robin Williams film was that I ever watched as a kid, but I can tell you how he made me feel with every film of his: Absolute joy. Robin’s movies were magical, hilarious, and had this unique charm that sparked my interests in film and that creative realm of movie-making. In many ways, his demeanor in films and interviews inspired me to be myself—a creative oddball who found joy in anything and everything. I didn’t need to fit into a norm because Robin proved otherwise. He made his own mold and I just needed to be myself. That was a comforting notion for a kid growing up. When I was a seven years old, my dad took my sister and I to see Aladdin at the cineplex and it was one of my favorite memories. I loved that film growing up! Once it released on VHS, it was all I would watch. I had recognized Robin’s voice from Good Morning Vietnam, Hook, and Dead Poets Society, and caught his interviews from film junkets on the news. Knowing Robin was part of that day, made it all the more special because he always made me laugh, whether it be from his guest appearance on Happy Days, or his big break on Mork & MindyWhen I’d watch his performances, I always felt like he was someone worthy of hugging too because he had such an infectious and inviting smile. You knew you’d be safe with him.

Now growing up, I loved almost every film of Robin’s: Jumanji, Mrs. Doubtfire, and JackI could really go on. For a good chunk of my life, Robin was a household staple and someone who was a familiar face week after week through the simple pop of a tape into the VCR. As I got older, I revisited Dead Poets Society. His portrayal of John Keating ignited my adolescent love for poetry and the beauty behind literature. When I turned 13, I discovered Good Will Hunting (a movie that changed my life) and was blown away not just by the film, but by his character Sean Maguire. It was that performance that moved me because it showed such range and how much of a powerhouse he truly was. There’s a scene where his character sits on the bench with Will, and it always gets me. It’s such a beautifully written scene and Robin executes it with such heart. He was more than a comedian. He was an actor’s actor. That performance and film made me love acting, theater and everything involved in the gloriously intricate art form.

Robin had such a beautiful mind with so many layers, many of which were overlooked. In a comedy routine from 1977, Robin once said, “You’re only given a little spark of madness. And if you lose that, you’re nothing.” That spark he speaks of is that impulse in life you get when you are passionate about a dream—that raw enthusiasm that’s necessary to creativity. Seeing that routine years ago and understanding that quotable, putting it into real life each day of my life, has meant so much to me and my own personal growth.

I’m going to miss him. I never met him, but I’m going to miss him. He set a precedent for humor and created his own comedic persona that had never been seen. Throughout the years, it was always such a delight watching him in films, interviews, knowing how funny he was and how he could make audiences smile so brightly along with him. He made me smile and laugh on days I didn’t think I could, and I will forever remember how he was there for me in the way he was.

Thank you, Robin Williams for all the smiles and laughs you gave not just me, but generations now and tomorrow with that big, generous heart of yours. You have made this world worth it for so many and I’m so sorry you were so pained. You will be sorely missed. Rest in peace.

* * * * *

Image Credit: Tracey Nearmy—EPA

Robin Williams
July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014


Editors Note: In the last few days, much attention from Robin Williams’ death has been brought on the discussion of mental health and well-being. While we celebrate Williams’ beautiful life and the meaning he brought so many of us, we also want to mention how important it is to understand and recognize that depression is individualized. While some symptoms are alike, depression affects each individual differently. When major depression factors into one’s life and daily thought, conversation plays a vital role in the recovery process. A significant part of the journey back to a positive well-being is depending on, and trusting, key people in your life. If you or someone you love ever needs help and needs to talk, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  The lines are open 24/7/365 and there is always someone there to help you. 

From all of us here at The Hudsucker, our hearts go out to all those that loved him. We send our deepest condolences and sympathies to Williams’ family, close friends and the many fans who adored him. Robin Williams will be deeply missed.

What were some of your favorite Robin Williams films? Share with us in the comments below.

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  1. Finding Meaning in Feeling Lost | The Hudsucker - January 5, 2015

    […] what I wish I had achieved by the age of 24. Yet when I look at what I want to achieve in my life, my mind goes to Robin Williams. A man who brought so much joy, who had all the aspects that were deemed invaluable to me and to […]

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