Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a President, a professor, a bang-a-rang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He played many memorable characters over the years, but often times the funniest things he said weren’t from a movie script, but his own insight and ideas. Comedian and Academy Award-winning actor Robin Williams was found dead in his Northern California home on Monday, 11th August, 2014. The apparent cause of death was suicide by asphyxiation, although an investigation is continuing. According to his publicist, Williams was “battling severe depression” in the time before his death and recently entered 12-step rehab for drug abuse.

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Born on July 21, 1951 in Chicago to a former model and an auto-industry executive, Robin McLaurin Williams attended high school and community college in Marin Country before graduating from the Juilliard School in 1973. After developing his improvisational style as a stand-up comedian, Williams made his television debut on Mork and Mindy, and moved into film with Robert Altman’s Popeye. Williams was widely known and loved for his outsized comedic roles, like the Genie in Aladdin and the dad-turned-Mrs. Doubtfire. He was almost as widely mocked for overly-earnest roles in Jakob the Liar or Patch Adams. Sometimes he landed the manic-depressive balance just right—Dead Poets SocietyGood Will Hunting—and those were among his most critically acclaimed roles. Williams also scored in another dramatic role as a man of medicine, playing a character based on neuroscientist Oliver Sacks in the 1990 movie Awakenings.  Despite his well documented battles with drugs and alcohol, Williams continued to work, with several duds but to his name but his turn in 2009’s World’s Greatest Dad labelled a glorious return to form. And in person, he was a mixture of both these extremes: heartfelt and off-the-wall. His monologues full of non sequiturs or unexpected accents had helped him quickly become one of the world’s biggest comedy stars and a favourite guest of late-night television talk shows. Williams, had that gift, the ability to be staggeringly gifted yet connect on your level, to do things it seemed no human comic could do, and yet feel as if he were doing them for you.

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Generations of fans took delight in the actor’s ability to transform himself and portray a variety of complex and entertaining characters. Over the course of his career, he dabbled in dramas, comedies, thrillers, animations and character roles. But he was a true master of the comedic craft and stretched himself across genres to become a legend of the big and small screens.  it’s hard to comprehend that someone who was so open to everything, who seemed so joyful, with such a wacky sense of humour, high energy and high octane brand of comedy whether from stand-up to sitcom to crazy TV interviews and beyond, who gave so much laughter and wonder to so many, and inspiring a new generation of comedians, it’s hard to realise he was struggling this much because it seemed he never stopped being funny. But then that’s public persona for you, I guess. It doesn’t matter how much someone is smiling, you don’t know what’s going on with them. RIP Robin and thanks for the love, the smiles, the laughter and the mesmerism.

Here’s a Tribute.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUpLUl1nLcY&w=560&h=315]

Goodbye Robin Williams. You will be missed.

-Tanvi Shah

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