Very sad news in Hollywood today: Veteran actor Robin Williams has died at the age of 63. Marin County Sheriff's Office have ruled it a suspected suicide.
The comedian first got his start in TV, appearing on The Richard Pryor Show and Laugh-In, making a splash thanks to his boundless energy and unique, frenetic joke-telling style, but his big TV break came with the character of Mork, an alien from Ork first introduced on Happy Days before getting his own show.
Mork & Mindy, costarring Pam Dawber, ran for four seasons on ABC from 1978-82. The role won Williams a Golden Globe in 1979 (and a subsequent nomination in 1980) and an Emmy nomination in 1979.
On comedian Marc Maron's WTF Podcast in April 2010, Williams talked about how he'll always be Mork to his fans. "People say, 'You have an Academy Award.' The Academy Award lasted about a week and then one week later people were going, 'Hey Mork!'" Williams said, before adding, "A show like that is in people's akashic memory." Did the Mork recognition ever bother him? "No — it paid for the ranch, it paid for the house. It was a great experience, I got to meet wonderful people; it paid a lot of bills and kicked my career way in the a--. Dom Irrera said, 'Without that, where the f--- would be you be?' And I go, 'You're right.'"
Williams went on to receive three Oscar nominations (for Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, and The Fisher King) and a win for his role in Good Will Hunting in 1997, but he always came back to TV.
In 1987, Williams won his first Emmy for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program for Carol, Carl, Whoopi and Robin, and he won again in the same category the following year for ABC Presents: A Royal Gala.
Williams received several other Emmy nominations throughout the '90s for very dramatic guest spots on Homicide: Life on the Street and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; for co-hosting Comic Relief VII in 1995; and for performing in his own stand-up specials, 2002's Robin Williams: Live on Broadway and 2009's Robin Williams: Weapons of Self Destruction.
He also had memorable guest spots on Friends and, more recently, Wilfred and Louie on FX.
[Related: Remembering Robin Williams, Recording Star]
In 2000, he sang South Park, The Movie's "Blame Canada" at the Academy Awards — watch:
Williams also hosted Saturday Night Live three times, made memorable cameos three more times, and was spoofed several times as well. Here's one of his early SNL monologues, which touched on drinking and fatherhood:
And here's a clip from his most recent appearance, alongside Robert DeNiro in 2010:
Williams could always be counted on for wacky talk show appearances over the years. Here's his very memorable first appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson:
Williams also did more kid-friendly appearances, visiting Sesame Street several times over the years. In 2012, he even managed to make talking about the word "conflict" funny:
In 2012, Williams accepted The Comedy Awards Icon Award in a room full of his comedy peers. He seemed sincerely honored, but still joked, "I am one of the luckiest f---s in show business... with the possible exception of Ryan Seacrest." Watch the full (slightly NSFW) speech here:
Most recently, Williams had made a TV comeback with CBS's The Crazy Ones, starring alongside Sarah Michelle Gellar, but the series only lasted one season. That first season featured a buzzy reunion for Williams and his Mork & Mindy costar Pam Dawber.
Upon hearing news of Williams's death, Dawber released a statement: “I am completely and totally devastated. What more can be said?!”
CBS issued this statement about his death: "Our world has lost a comic genius, a gifted actor and a beautiful man. We will remember Robin Williams as one of the unique talents of his time who was loved by many, but also as a kind, caring soul, who treated his colleagues and co-workers with great affection and respect. Our heartfelt thoughts and sympathies go out to his family, loved ones and friends."
Among countless other celebrity friends and colleagues, Williams's Happy Days co-star Henry Winkler tweeted his reaction to the news as well:
In July 2014, shortly after production wrapped on The Crazy Ones, Williams checked himself back into rehab for "fine-tuning."
At the time, the actor's rep issued a statement: "After working back-to-back projects, Robin is simply taking the opportunity to fine-tune and focus on his continued commitment, of which he remains extremely proud."
Williams has been open about his longtime battle with drugs and alcohol. In 2006, he sought treatment for alcoholism after 20 years of sobriety. His rep said at the time that the comedian had "decided to take proactive measures to deal with this for his own well-being and the well-being of his family."
"It's [addiction] — not caused by anything, it's just there," Williams told Diane Sawyer in October 2006. "It waits. It lays in wait for the time when you think, 'It's fine now, I'm OK.' Then, the next thing you know, it's not OK. Then you realize, 'Where am I? I didn't realize I was in Cleveland.'" Williams revealed he had spent two months "club medicated" in Oregon's Hazelden Springbrook treatment center.
While Mork & Mindy was his big break, it was also the time in his life when he first became addicted to alcohol and cocaine.
"Cocaine for me was a place to hide," Williams told People in 1988. "Most people get hyper on coke. It slowed me down. Sometimes it made me paranoid and impotent, but mostly it just made me withdrawn. And I was so crazy back then — working all day, partying most of the night — I needed an excuse not to talk. I needed quiet times and I used coke to get them."
Williams married his third wife, graphic designer Susan Schneider, in October 2011. He is survived by Schneider and his three children — a son Zachary from his first marriage and daughter Zelda and son Cody from his second.
Just two weeks ago, Williams posted his final Instagram photo, a sweet flashback look into his personal life with his kids:
- Arts & Entertainment