By: Alex Spindler ~Arts & Entertainment Editor~
Much to the surprise of the entertainment industry and his international fan base, Robin Williams was found dead in his home on Aug. 11.
A detailed autopsy confirmed that Williams died as a result of suicide by asphyxiation. Williams had been suffering from long bouts of depression and alcoholism for close to three decades. His immediate family revealed that Williams was in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, a diagnosis not yet revealed to the public.
CBS News reports that Williams fell further into depression after the cancellation of his recent show, “The Crazy Ones,” co-starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. Due to lukewarm reviews and only a meager ratings boost, CBS pulled the plug last April.
Williams was born in 1951. He began acting in high school and pursued it at the College of Marin in Kentfield, Calif. He began his comedy work in San Francisco in the early 1970s, taking it with him to New York as he attended the Juilliard School on a full scholarship.
Williams was one of the most recognized voice actors, dramatic artists and stand-up comedians of his generation. With a career spanning nearly 35 years, Williams got his “big-break” on the TV series “Mork and Mindy” in 1978. After serving his time as a sitcom star, Williams’ reputation as a versatile comedian and improviser quickly took off.
He did not begin acting in films until 1977 when he appeared in “Can I Do It ‘Till I Need Glasses?”
Williams broke the mold of being categorized as solely the funny-guy. His Academy Award-winning supporting role in “Good Will Hunting” contains memorable scenes often improvised by the actor.
In addition, Williams’ wacky voice acting is most often acclaimed in his animated role as the Genie in Disney’s “Aladdin.”
After a rift lasting nearly two decades between Disney and Williams, the animated company a cknowledg ed Williams’ importance in its animated film and honored him with a Disney Legend award.
His other films include “Good Morning, V i e t n a m , ” “ F l u b b e r , ” “Hook,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Patch Adams.”
Many fans never knew that Williams was an avid philanthropist of his time. He served
as a spokesperson for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
His work with fellow comedians Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal established the Comic Relief Fund, which has raised nearly $80 million for those suffering from poverty and homelessness.
When time became available throughout his career, Williams would frequently perform his stand-up routines for those serving overseas.
Williams struggled with addiction over the course of his life, developing addictions to both cocaine and alcohol.
He also dealt with depression for most of his career, especially at the end of his life as it was exacerbated by early stage Parkinson’s Disease and several career setbacks.
Robin Williams leaves behind a legacy of films, television and comedy that will be appreciated by generations.