Robin Williams, loved worldwide for his explosive comic energy and unique acting skills, has sadly died aged 63 in an apparent suicide last night.
Williams had a long and successful career spanning almost 40 years from the late 70s until present. He will be best remembered for his energetic stand-up routines and roles in popular family movies such as Mrs Doubtfire, Jumanji, Hook and many others.
A flood of tributes for the actor have been posted on the internet, amongst them is the US president Barack Obama, who said Williams was “one of a kind [who] arrived in our lives as an alien – but ended up touching every element of the human spirit.”
A tweet from Steve Martin, fellow comedy star, read: “I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.”
Williams, born in Chicago, Illinois, began to seriously pursue his career in acting during college, where he excelled in his classes at the esteemed Julliard School, also attended by Christopher Reeve at the time. Williams left college in 1976, and by 1977 he had made it onto our TV screen in NBC’s The Richard Pryor Show and then as Mork the alien in hit TV series Happy Days, which would be known as his breakthrough role.
During this period from the late 70s and throughout the 80s Williams also received great success with three HBO stand-up comedy specials. He continued to receive praise for his stand up routines throughout his life and was voted 13th in Comedy Central‘s list of “100 Greatest Stand-Ups Of All Time” in 2004.
It was also during his period of initial success that he became addicted to cocaine and struggled to fight the addiction. The death of friend John Belushi in 1982 had been a “wake up call” for Williams and had prompted him to quit. After 20 years of sobriety, Williams checked into a rehab clinic in 2006 for substance abuse and entered rehab again earlier this year.
Following his initial recovery in the early 80’s he soared to success in a range of memorable and much loved roles in serious yet light movies such as Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poet’s Society and Jack where he displayed his talent for showing the serious issues of the story but combining them with his comic charm. He received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as psychologist in Good Will Hunting and was also nominated for Best Actor three times for other roles.
Williams has also given his voice to a number of cartoons, playing the Genie in Aladdin, Fender in Robots and Ramon in Happy Feet. Due to his improvisational talent, Williams was given the chance to ad-lib his part in numerous movies, which made him a hit with audience members and casting directors alike.
Despite his happy and care-free appearance on screen, his private life was not so bright and he was known to suffer from depression, bipolar and alcoholism. An autopsy is due to take place on Tuesday to confirm the exact causes of his untimely death.
This comedy genius will be remembered by all as an adored and influential actor and person.