It’s hard to find words for the man who was always two lines of improv ahead of everyone else. How can we offer enough tribute to the profound impact Robin Williams had on our lives, as every person of the world mourns one of the greatest comedians of our time? (every person who has a funny bone. there are always some stick-in-the-muds who don’t like his alcoholism skit.)
He rose to fame as the alien in Mork and Mindy (yes, that would be “Mork.”) But, Disney fans know him as the lovable blue genie, or the scientist who created sentient green slime, or the squinty-eyed sailor, Popeye. Some of his other great family-film roles have been outside The Company, like Hook, Jumanji, Mrs. Doubtfire, Fern Gully, and he was the best Teddy Roosevelt impersonator ever to run amuck in a museum. Sometimes, he was just charming as himself, like in Good Morning, Vietnam or Birdcage. When he wasn’t being adorable, Williams could be caustic and confronting, in Fisher King, Dead Poets Society, or Good Will Hunting. He could even be sappy, in Bicentenial Man or What Dreams May Come. (And then there was Toys. We won’t talk about this because it still gives me nightmares.)
Williams’ comedic talent was as big as his animated alter ego. A genius with voices and frenetic with passion, he could be (literally) anything you dreamed. His place in fans’ hearts, though, was won because of the changes that he could make in the audience, reigniting childhood and encouraging us to be better people by wrapping funny around solid truths.
To be honest, it wasn’t always sunshine and baklava between Williams and Disney, as their contract disputes weren’t settled until 2009. However, he was officially inducted into the Disney Hall of Fame as a Disney Legend. No matter how many or how few official appearances he made, Williams personified the spirit of Disney – the wonder, joy, and desperate hope.
Robin Williams’ legacy will last as long as those who grew up on his movies continue to believe in the message that he promoted: Beeee yourself. And if there comes a day when kids won’t watch these films anymore for their passe special effects or obsolete jokes, we know that his voice will still whisper to our children and grandchildren from the portraits on the wall, “Carpe diem – make your lives extraordinary.”
On second thought, maybe we do have the words for today. To a man who struggled with addiction and depression, but still managed to make our lives brighter for it, we can only wish that there’s a new adventure for him..
(That look at 0:53 – that’s us. We’re gonna miss you, buddy.)