Sarah Joanne Jakubowski, Contributing JournalistLast Modified: 16:40 p.m. DST, 12 August 2014
TIBURON, California -- Robin Williams, stand-up comedian and star of movies such as Mrs. Doubtfire and Good Will Hunting was declared dead at his residence on August 11 at 12:02 pm. Fans were shocked to learn that the man who caused so much laughter was suspected of taking his own life.
However, it's true that while Williams shared many laughs on-screen, his off-screen life was often marred by difficulties. In his 20s he was addicted to Cocaine, though he quit after the birth of his son and the death of his longtime friend and cocaine addict John Belushi died.
He also admitted to being an alcoholic and recovered to enjoy 20 years of sobriety -- until he succumbed to the disease once more in 2003. After three years of alcohol abuse and depression, a family intervention lead him to seek help. It's believed that the drinking was a main factor that lead to the divorce of his second wife. Throughout the remainder of his life, he would actively and sometimes with limited success continue to fight his demons, attending AA meetings regularly and, in 2014, checking into an addiction treatment center.
Despite his personal shortcomings, Williams found ways to leave the world better than he found it. He participated in many charities and even created one (the Windfall Foundation). His generosity was aimed most at children, and he donated to charities such as Children's Promise, which is a fundraiser for children's hospitals and other children's aid organizations, Smile Train, which helps raise money to fix cleft palettes, St. Jude's Research Hospital and UNICEF. In addition, he also donated to the Red Cross to help after the 2010 Canterbury earthquake in New Zealand and he frequently performed in Iraq and Afghanistan for US troops. Overall, he donated to almost 40 charities throughout his lifetime, often using proceeds earned directly from his comedy shows to benefit children, animals, the environment and worldwide healthcare.
In almost all aspects of his life, be it charity work, private shortcomings or to cheer a grieving friend, Williams used laughter as a healing mechanism. It's speculated that he may have had ADD, which he worked to his advantage in his spontaneous and erratic style of comedy. He also once admitted that he was never naturally one of the "cool kids" in grade school and used his funny antics as a means to make friends and fit in. The late Christopher Reeve, lifelong friend and fellow actor, once recalled that after Reeve was rendered a quadriplegic from a horse riding accident, it was Williams who made him laugh again. In the end, depression overtook Williams, but throughout his life he was the cause of much joy.
In honor of his memory, remember his humor and his good spirit. Watch his movies and laugh, and cry. He was more than his own personal failings, more than his untimely and unprecedented death. He was Mrs. Doubtfire, and Patch Adams and Genie from Aladdin. He was a father, a husband, a philanthropist and a role model to many.
- Robin Williams dies at 63 in apparent suicide (globalnews.ca)
- Robin Williams: five quirky facts about the 'comic genius' (theweek.co.uk)
- Actor-comedian Robin Williams dead at age 63 in apparent suicide (wjla.com)
- Actor, Comedian Robin Williams Found Dead Inside California Home (sacramento.cbslocal.com)