“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” — Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society
I don’t usually write about things like celebrities dying. But this evening I am. The news just broke today that actor Robin Williams is dead of an apparent suicide at age 63.
We were introduced to Robin Williams in 1978 when Mork and Mindy hit television. We giggled at his antics as an alien in a funky red outfit, and then we watched his transition to film. The World According to Garp (1982), Good Morning Vietnam (1987), the incredibly moving and fantastic Dead Poets Society (filmed at St. Andrews School in 1989), and howled at Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), loved Good Will Hunting (1997).
Basically every year since Mork and Mindy there was something or several somethings with Robin Williams in it.
But every time he was interviewed you saw other sides to him. Depression, manic behavior, substance abuse. Media referred to him as the “funniest man alive”, and like many other comedic geniuses there was this other side that was profoundly dark and sad.
Today, Robin Williams demons apparently got the best of him. According to the Los Angeles Times:
Robin Williams, a comic and sitcom star in the 1970s who became an Oscar-winning dramatic actor, died Monday at 63 in Marin County. The Marin County Sheriff’s Office said he appears to have committed suicide.
The news of the beloved actor’s death rocked the nation. Channels broke into their usual programming to make the announcement, and within minutes, Williams dominated online trending topics. Even President Obama noted his passing.
Williams, hailed as a comic genius, was a star of movies and television for more than three decades. He also suffered from substance abuse problems.
The actor “has been battling severe depression of late,” his publicist Mara Buxbaum said. “This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”
So tragic. So sad.
(CNN) — Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams apparently took his own life at his Northern California home Monday, law enforcement officials said. Williams was 63.
“He has been battling severe depression of late,” his media representative Mara Buxbaum told CNN. “This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”
Coroner investigators suspect “the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia,” according to a statement from the Marin County, California, Sheriff’s Office.
Williams married graphic designer Susan Schneider in Napa Valley, California, ceremony in October 2011. Schneider sent a written statement to CNN through the representative.
When Robin Williams died on Monday, August 11, the world looked back on his most memorable roles from his diverse and iconic career. His performance as John Keating, an influential and empowering high school teacher, in 1989’s “Dead Poets Society” stood out among the rest.
The scene in which his students recite “O Captain! My Captain,” an homage to Walt Whitman’s poem, has become an indelible part of pop culture. It’s an onscreen moment that honors Williams as a fictional teacher and a metaphorical one to the young actors in the movie. Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles and Robert Sean Leonard stand on top of desks and take Keating’s side at the prep school. Together, they honor his intellect and compassion.
RIP Robin Williams
Oh Captain! My Captain! By Walt Whitman
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
The arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
Source: Leaves of Grass (1891)