MARY BRASWELL: Looking Back Aug. 24, 2014
HISTORY : The Robin Williams that made so many people laugh
Emotions ran the gamut when news of the death of Robin Williams spread across the world on Aug. 11. The comedianâ€™s wife said, on behalf of his family,â€As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robinâ€™s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.â€ That is just what this column wishes to do.
##DID YOU KNOW?
##â€” As a child, Williams memorized the comedy albums of Jonathan Winters.
##â€” Williams was granted a full scholarship to Juilliard in New York City. In 1973, he was one of only 20 students accepted in to Juilliardâ€™s freshman class and one of only two students to be accepted by John Houseman into the advanced program. The other was Christopher Reeve. The duo became lifelong friends.
##â€” A week after Reeve was injured in the horseback riding accident that left him paralyzed, Williams dressed in scrubs from head to toe, including a surgical mask. When he entered the room, he spoke with a Russian accent acting the role of a doctor. When Reeve saw who it really was, he laughed for the first time after the accident.
##â€” When Williams auditioned for the role of Mork from Ork on â€œHappy Days,â€ producer Garry Marshall told him to sit down. Williams immediately â€œsatâ€ on his head. Marshall hired him saying he was the only alien that auditioned for the role.
##â€” With the grand success of the first season â€œMork & Mindy,â€ Williams was featured on the cover of Time magazine on March 12, 1979.
##â€” In 1993, Williams wrote the forward to Gary Larsonâ€™s book, â€œThe Far Side: Gallery 4.â€
##â€” When Johnny Carson planned his penultimate show, he picked Robin Williams and Bette Midler as his final guests, on May 21, 1992.
##â€” When Williams graduated from high school in 1969, the senior class voted him â€œfunniestâ€ and â€œmost likely not to succeed.â€
##â€” Among the many celebrity voices Williams impersonated were Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Rodney Dangerfield, Arsenio Hall, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ed Sullivan.
##â€” As a child, Williamsâ€™ favorite book was â€œThe Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.â€ He later read it to his children.
##â€” Williams and Robert De Niro were the last celebrities to see John Belushi alive, albeit on separate visits to his bungalow, on March 5, 1982.
##â€” A star on the the Hollywood Walk of Fame was added for Williams on December 12, 1990.
##â€” Williams enjoyed cycling and even trained with Lance Armstrong occasionally.
##â€” On the TV show â€œLaw & Order: SVU,â€ Williams portrayed a man driven crazy with grief (April 29, 2008).
##â€” When â€œBlame Canada,â€ a song from â€œSouth Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut,â€ was nominated for a Best Song Academy Award, it was Williams who performed the song at the ceremony. Mary Kay Bergman, the actress who performed the song in the film, had committed suicide a few months earlier.
##â€” After a 20-year break from stand-up comedy, Williams came back with a show on Broadway. It won the 2003 Grammy for the best spoken word album.
##â€” The year was 1996 when Williams reached a milestone by having two of his films reach the $100-million mark in the U.S. in the same week. The films were â€œJumanjiâ€ and â€œThe Birdcage.â€
##â€” Williams was raised in the Episcopal Church. He once related the top reasons to be an Episcopalian. Among them were: pew aerobics, no snake handling; male and female, God created them, male and female we ordain them, and free wine on Sunday.
##IN HIS WORDS â€¦
##â€œThe Second Amendment says we have the right to bear arms, not to bear artillery.â€
##â€œNo matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.â€
##â€œWhy do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?â€
##â€œIf women ran the world we wouldnâ€™t have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days.â€
##â€œIf itâ€™s the Psychic Network, why do they need a phone number?â€
##â€œComedy is acting out optimism.â€
##â€œNever pick a fight with an ugly person, theyâ€™ve got nothing to lose.â€
##â€œWhatâ€™s right is whatâ€™s left if you do everything else wrong.â€
##â€œYouâ€™re only given one little spark of madness. You mustnâ€™t lose it.â€
##â€œReality is just a crutch for people who canâ€™t cope with drugs.â€
##â€œPolitics: â€˜Poliâ€™ a Latin word meaning â€˜manyâ€™; and â€˜tics,â€™ meaning â€˜bloodsucking creatures.â€™â€
##â€œCricket is basically baseball on Valium.â€
##â€œIn England, if you commit a crime, the police donâ€™t have a gun and you donâ€™t have a gun. If you commit a crime, the police will say, â€˜Stop, or Iâ€™ll say stop again.â€™â€
##â€œSpring is natureâ€™s way of saying, â€˜Letâ€™s party!â€™â€
##â€œDeath is natureâ€™s way of saying, â€˜Your table is ready.â€™â€
##â€œA woman would never make a nuclear bomb. They would never make a weapon that kills. Theyâ€™d make a weapon that makes you feel bad for a while.â€
##â€œWeâ€™re dealing with fundamentalists. The Amish are fundamentalists, but they donâ€™t try an hijack a carriage at needlepoint.â€
##â€œShe is not perfect. You are not perfect. The question is whether or not you are perfect for each other.â€
##â€œThe truth is, if anything, Iâ€™m probably addicted to laughter.â€
##â€œOkra is the closest thing to nylon Iâ€™ve ever eaten. Itâ€™s like they bred cotton with a green bean. Okra tastes like snot. The more you cook it, the more it turns into string.â€
##â€œWhen you look at Prince Charles, donâ€™t you think that someone in the Royal family knew someone in the Royal family?â€
##â€œWhat kind of food did we drop on Afghanistan? Pop-Tarts, peanut butter â€¦ just add a Honey Baked Ham and youâ€™ve got a redneck Christmas.â€
##â€œWelcome to Washington, D.C., where the buck stops here! Way to go. And then itâ€™s handed out to AIG and many other people.â€
##â€œYou know the difference between a tornado and divorce in the South? Nothing! Someone is losing a trailer.â€
##â€œI was once on a German talk show, and this woman said to me, â€˜Mr. Williams, why do you think there is not so much comedy in Germany?â€™ And I said, â€˜Did you ever think you killed all the funny people?â€™â€
##â€œIâ€™m a born entertainer. When I open the fridge door and the light goes on, I burst into song.â€
##â€œPeople say satire is dead. Itâ€™s not dead; itâ€™s alive and living in the White House.â€
##ONE LAST THING â€¦
##Once asked what he (Robin Williams) would like to hear God say when he arrives in heaven, he answered, â€œThereâ€™s a seat in the front for the Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Elvis Presley concert.â€ From fans near and far, hereâ€™s hoping you enjoy the show.