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I guess I just like liking things

robinwilliamsRobin Williams passed away yesterday. Details are few, but it seems likely his severe depression was the cause of him taking his own life. It’s always difficult to hear about death, even more difficult to hear about suicide, and especially difficult when it comes at the end of a longtime sickness for which help was available. When it is a much-loved performer, artist, entertainer, author, musician, or whomever else, it catches us by surprise and can sometimes make us feel the loss more deeply than we expect. I hope that the focus in the coming days on his life and death will point others who have similar struggles towards the help that is available.

Twitter was filled thoughts about Robin last night, with many, many references to his films and his work over the years. While I don’t plan to have a normal “ranking list” of his movies today, I did want to talk about my memories associated with some of his work, my tribute to a performer who brought me many laughs and tears for a long, long time.

  • 1978-1982: Happy Days/Mork & Mindy
    My very first introduction to him was listening to my mom and dad watch Mork & Mindy every so often. We weren’t allowed to watch it (we were only kids!) but you could hear his manic energy from the next room. It wasn’t until several years later that I got to see his work on Mork & Mindy and then be surprised to see him show up on Happy Days a couple of times.
  • 1980: Popeye
    Nobody expected this movie, nor him to be in it.  Such a strange choice all around! I remember sort of liking it the first time I saw it a long time ago, but couldn’t make it through it when I tried again years later. It was a sign, though, I think. He wasn’t going to just be “Robin Williams.”
  • 1986: A Night at the Met
    Not a movie, but one of his comedy albums. Someone in our Christian high school got hold of it, and we gathered around and listened to it together. For many of us it was an introduction to foul-mouthed comedy, quite a difference from the Bill Cosby tapes we’d heard. We’d laugh when he’d cuss (which was often), but we were embarrassed by it, too.
  • 1987: Good Morning, Vietnam
    And here was a mix of Manic Robin Williams and Serious Robin Williams. The commercials played up the craziness, of course, and those were the most-quoted parts, but a movie based on the Vietnam War isn’t going to be all laughs.
  • 1989: Dead Poets Society
    This is the one most of us think of first when we hear his name. Sure, he did some schtick, but he was the teacher we all wanted to challenge us to follow our dreams and stand on our chairs. There were many “O Captain, My Captain” quotes last night.
  • 1991: Hook
    Who better to play a boy that never wanted to grow up? The sappiness doesn’t hold up for me today, but I loved this movie when I first saw it.
  • 1992: Aladdin
    In many ways, this was the perfect movie for him. He got to cut loose and the animators had to keep up with him. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve belted “Friend Like Me” out in the car along with him. He gave it such an exuberance you couldn’t help but love it.
  • 1997: Good Will Hunting
    He got an Oscar for this one, and he should have. I suspect he should have gotten a few more over his career. A comedian can do drama in special ways, as many times the humor is born from a need to battle the hurt. I”m glad he got the recognition for this one.
  • 1998: What Dreams May Come
    I don’t tend to put much stock in how Hollywood handles the afterlife, but this movie’s beauty and sadness struck me in ways few movies have. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to watch it again.
  • 2009: World’s Greatest Dad
    Ostensibly a comedy, but a dark, dark, dark one. His portrayal of overwhelming grief at the suicide of his son was a powerful scene, so much so that even typing this brings up feelings of deep sadness, especially in this current light. I doubt I’ll ever be able to watch this one again, either.
  • 2013-2014: The Crazy Ones
    I was never completely on-board with this series, I’ll admit it. Robin did his familiar schtick, and the manic energy doesn’t appeal to me now like it once did. But you could tell the cast had a great time making the show, and I like knowing he was often surrounded by happiness.

There are so many other movies of his I enjoyed but don’t have specific thoughts on. In the end, I liked Serious Robin more, but I wonder if that’s because of the contrast to Zany Robin.

He will be missed.



Please, if you or someone you know is struggling to deal with depression, seek help. I have heard from many friends who talk about never being completely over it, but learning to at least fight it in better ways. I also have friends who have been able to have success in fighting depression. There is hope.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number


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