2 mins to read

Robin Williams: 1951-2014

Nevil Gibson
Wed, 13 Aug 2014

Robin Williams' career spanned standup comedy, television and 100 Hollywood films.

He burst into public view in 1978 with the hit television comedy Mork & Mindy, in which he played an alien from the planet Ork, building on this with his first starring role in Popeye (1980).

He moved between star vehicles like Mrs Doubtfire (1993) and The Birdcage (1996) to well-received roles in dramas including Awakenings (1990) and Insomnia (2002).

He was nominated for four Oscars, including best actor three times in five years. He won best supporting actor for his role as a therapist to a troubled young math genius in Good Will Hunting (1997).

Other nominations were for Dead Poets Society (1989) and The Fisher King (1991) with other audience favourites being his first dramatic role as a frenetic DJ in Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Jumanji (1995) and Patch Adams (1998).

His acting career slowed in the past decade. He starred in the short-lived TV series The Crazy Ones, which was canceled in May. His last role was as President Teddy Roosevelt in the Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, which will be released in December.

His latest screen appearance in New Zealand was as the lonely neighbour of widow Annette Bening in the romantic drama The Face of Love.

His comedy style was noted for monologues full of non sequiturs or unexpected accents, making him a favourite guest of late-night television talk shows.

He had a tendency to become the centre of attention, including a celebrated turn as the voice of the madcap genie in the 1992 animated feature Aladdin.

He toured the world as a comedian, including a fund-raiser show in Christchurch after the September 2010 earthquake.

Since his death, details have emerged on his personal struggle with alcohol and drug addiction as well as depression.

He is survived by his third wife, Susan Schneider, son Zak; from a first marriage to Valerie Velardi; and daughter Zela and son Cody from a marriage to Marsha Garces.

In a tribute, President Obama said: "Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between.

“But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit,"

Nevil Gibson
Wed, 13 Aug 2014
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Robin Williams: 1951-2014