1. How it ended
The legendary stand-up comedian, character actor and Robin Williams died of an apparent suicide in his California home.
2. Mork from Ork
Williams’ big showbiz break came when he was just 25, appearing as an alien on the sitcom “Happy Days,” where he attempted to outcool the Fonz. Long story short: Nobody outcools the Fonz. The 1978 spinoff, “Mork and Mindy,” utilized his off-the-cuff comic talent and made suspenders sort of cool again. The show also busted the standard three-camera format. Producer Garry Marshall brought in a fourth camera trained solely on Williams, who could bust something out at any time.
3. A trained actor
Yes, he was ridiculous. But Williams attended the prestigious Julliard School in New York City, where he studied under John Houseman, and his roommate was Christopher Reeve, the man who would go on to play Superman. Williams performed as a mime on the streets of New York in those days — it’s hard to believe he could keep his mouth shut.
The movies came calling almost immediately after “Mork and Mindy” aired. Popeye, what would now be called a “live-action reboot of the franchise,” came out in 1980, a weird, dark, steampunk musical that, when I was 10 years old, was one of the strangest things I had ever seen on screen.
5. Aladdin and Disney
It would be hard to imagine the 1992 Disney classic Aladdin without William’s frenetic turn as Genie, one of his best-known roles. But he took the gig for Screen Actors Guild scale pay, just $75,000, in appreciation to the studio for his starring turn in Good Morning Vietnam, another standout performance that earned him an Oscar nod. This was the beginning of a decades-long dysfunctional relationship between the actor and Disney.
6. A Roots fan
The best story to emerge around Williams’ death comes from Questlove, founding member of the Roots, quoted on consequenceofsound.net, who recalled Williams chasing his band into an elevator at the Grammys in 2001. “[W]e piled inside when suddenly this voice just said ‘Questlove… Black Thought… Rahzel… the Roots from Philadelphia! That’s right, you walked on this elevator saying to yourself, ‘Ain’t no way this old white dude knows my entire history and discography,’ We laughed so hard.”
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