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Robin McLaurin Williams (born July 21, 1951) is an American actor and comedian.

Rising to fame with his role as the alien Mork in the TV series Mork and Mindy, and later stand up comedy work, Williams has performed in many feature films since 1980. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the 1997 film Good Will Hunting. He has also won three Golden Globes, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and three Grammy Awards.

Early life

Williams was born in Chicagomarker, Illinois. His mother, Laura McLaurin (née Smith, 1922 – 2001), was a former model from Jacksonmarker, Mississippi. His father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams (September 10, 1906 – October 18, 1987) was a senior executive at Lincoln-Mercury Motorship in charge of the Midwest area. Williams was raised in the Episcopal Church, though his mother practiced Christian Science. He grew up in Bloomfield Hillsmarker, Michigan where he was a student at the Detroit Country Day Schoolmarker, and Marin County, Californiamarker, where he attended the public Redwood High Schoolmarker. Williams also attended Claremont McKenna Collegemarker (then called Claremont Men's College) for four years.

He has two half-brothers: McLaurin, and Todd who died August 14, 2007.

Williams has described himself as a quiet child whose first imitation was of his grandmother to his mother. He did not overcome his shyness until he became involved with his high-school drama department.

In 1973, Williams was one of only 20 students accepted into the freshman class at the Juilliard Schoolmarker,and one of only two students to be accepted by John Houseman into the Advanced Program at the school that year, the other being Christopher Reeve. In his dialects class, Williams had no trouble mastering all dialects quickly.

Television career

After appearing in the cast of the short-lived The Richard Pryor Show on NBC, Williams was cast by Garry Marshall as the alien Mork in the hit TV series "Happy Days".As Mork, Williams improvised much of his dialogue and devised plenty of rapid-fire verbal and physical comedy, speaking in a high, nasal voice. Mork's appearance was so popular with viewers that it led to a spin-off hit television sitcom, Mork and Mindy, which ran from 1978 to 1982. Although playing the same character as in his appearance in Happy Days, the show was set in the present day, in Boulder, Colorado instead of late '50s in Milwaukeemarker. Mork was an extremely popular character, featured on posters, coloring books, lunchboxes, and other merchandise.

Starting in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, Williams began to reach a wider audience with his standup comedy, including three HBO comedy specials, Off The Wall (1978), An Evening with Robin Williams (1982), and Robin Williams: Live at the Met (1986). Also in 1986, Williams reached an even wider audience to exhibit his style at the 58th Academy Awards show; noting the Hollywood writers strike that year he commented that the Hollywood writer... "is the only man in the world that can blow smoke up his own a--." As a result, Williams has never hosted the AA's again.

His standup work has been a consistent thread through his career, as is seen by the success of his one-man show (and subsequent DVD) Robin Williams Live on Broadway (2002). He was voted 13th on Comedy Central's list "100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time" in 2004.

After some encouragement from his friend Whoopi Goldberg, he was set to make a guest appearance in the 1991 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, "A Matter of Time", but he had to cancel due to a scheduling conflict; Matt Frewer took his place as a time-traveling con man, Professor Berlingoff Rasmussen.

Williams also appeared on an episode of the American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? (Season 3, Episode 9: November 16, 2000). During a game of "Scenes from a Hat", the scene "What Robin Williams is thinking right now" was drawn, and Williams stated "I have a career. What the hell am I doing here?"

Cinema career

Most of Williams' acting career has been in film, although he has given some performances on stage as well (notably as Estragon in a production of Waiting for Godot with Steve Martin). His performance in Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) got Williams nominated for an Academy Award. Many of his roles have been comedies tinged with pathos, for example The Birdcage and Mrs. Doubtfire.

His role as the Genie in the animated film Aladdin was instrumental in establishing the importance of star power in voice actor casting. Williams also used his voice talents in Fern Gully, as the holographic Dr. Know in the 2001 feature A.I. Artificial Intelligence, the 2005 animated feature Robots, the 2006 Academy Award winning Happy Feet, and an uncredited vocal performance in 2006's Everyone's Hero. Furthermore, he was the voice of The Timekeeper, a former attraction at the Walt Disney Worldmarker Resort about a time-traveling robot who encounters Jules Verne and brings him to the future.

Williams has also starred in dramatic films, which got him two subsequent Academy Award nominations: First for playing an English teacher in Dead Poets Society (1989), and later for playing a troubled homeless man in The Fisher King (1991); that same year, he played an adult Peter Pan in the movie Hook. Other acclaimed dramatic films include Awakenings (1990) and What Dreams May Come (1998). In the 2002 dramatic thriller Insomnia, Williams portrays a writer/killer on the run from a sleep-deprived Los Angeles policeman (played by Al Pacino) in rural Alaska. And also in 2002, in the psychological thriller One Hour Photo, Williams played an emotionally disturbed photo development technician who becomes obsessed with a family for whom he has developed pictures for a long time.

In 1998, he won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his role as a psychologist in Good Will Hunting. However, by the early 2000s, he was thought by some to be typecast in films such as Patch Adams (1998) and Bicentennial Man (1999) that critics complained were excessively maudlin. In 2006 Williams starred in The Night Listener, a thriller about a radio show host who realizes he has developed a friendship with a child who may or may not exist.

He is known for his improvisational skills and impersonations. His performances frequently involve impromptu humor designed and delivered in rapid-fire succession while on stage. According to the Aladdin DVD commentary, most of his dialogue as the Genie was improvised.

In 2006, he starred in five movies including Man of the Year and was the Surprise Guest at the 2006 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards. He appeared on an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition that aired on January 30, 2006.

At one point, he was in the running to play the Riddler in Batman Forever until director Tim Burton dropped the project. Earlier, Williams had been a strong contender to play the Joker in Batman. He had expressed interest in assuming the role in The Dark Knight, the sequel to 2005's Batman Begins, although the part of the Joker was played by Heath Ledger, who posthumously went on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

He was portrayed by Chris Diamantopoulos in the made-for-TV biopic Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Mork & Mindy (2005), documenting the actor's arrival in Hollywood as a struggling comedian.

Disputes with Disney

In gratitude for his success with the Disney/Touchstone film Good Morning, Vietnam, Robin Williams voiced the Genie in the Disney animated film Aladdin for SAG scale pay ($75,000), on condition that his name or image not be used for marketing, and his (supporting) character not take more than 25% of space on advertising artwork, since Toys was scheduled for release one month after Aladdin's debut. The studio went back on the deal on both counts, especially in poster art by having the Genie in 25% of the image, but having other major and supporting characters portrayed considerably smaller. Disney's Hyperion book, Aladdin: The Making Of An Animated Film, listed both of Williams' characters "The Peddler" and "The Genie" ahead of main characters, but was forced to refer to him only as "the actor signed to play the Genie".

Williams and Disney had a bitter falling-out, and as a result Dan Castellaneta voiced the Genie in The Return of Jafar, the Aladdin animated television series, and had recorded his voice for Aladdin and the King of Thieves. When Jeffrey Katzenberg was fired from Disney and replaced by former 20th Century Fox production head Joe Roth (whose last act for Fox was greenlighting Williams' film Mrs. Doubtfire), Roth arranged for a public apology to Williams by Disney. Williams agreed to perform in Hollywood Pictures' Jack, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and even agreed to voice the Genie again for the King Of Thieves sequel (for considerably more than scale), replacing all of Castellaneta's dialogue.

When Williams re-teamed with Doubtfire director Chris Columbus for 1999's Bicentennial Man, Disney asked that the budget be cut by approximately $20 million, and when the film was released on Christmas Day, it flopped at the box office. Williams blamed Disney's marketing and the loss of content the film had suffered due to the budget cuts. As a result, Williams was again on bad terms with Disney, and Castellaneta was once again recruited to replace him as Genie in the Kingdom Hearts video game series and the House of Mouse TV series. The DVD release for Aladdin has no involvement whatsoever from Williams in the bonus materials, although some of his original recording sessions can be seen.

Robin Williams has made peace with the Walt Disney Company and in 2009 agreed to be inducted into the Disney hall of fame, designated as a Disney Legend.

Stand-up career

Robin Williams has done a number of stand-up comedy tours since the early 1970s. Some of his most notable tours include An Evening With Robin Williams (1982), Robin Williams: At The Met (1986) and Robin Williams LIVE on Broadway (2002). The latter broke many long held records for a comedy show. In some cases, tickets were sold out within thirty minutes of going on sale.

In August 2008, Williams announced a brand new 26-city tour titled "Weapons of Self Destruction". After a six year break from his record breaking tour, Robin decided the time was right to perform again due to the material that could be generated by a presidential election. He was quoted as saying that this was his last chance to make cracks at the expense of the current Bush Administration.

Personal life

Robin Williams' first marriage was to Valerie Velardi on June 4, 1978, with whom he has one child, Zachary Pym (Zak) (born April 11, 1983). During Williams' first marriage, he was involved in an extramarital relationship with Michelle Tish Carter, a cocktail waitress whom he met in 1984. She sued him in 1986, claiming that he did not tell her he was infected with the herpes simplex virus before he embarked on a sexual relationship with her in the mid-1980's, during which, she said, he transmitted the virus to her. The case was settled out of court.

On April 30, 1989, he married Marsha Garces, his son's nanny who was already several months pregnant with his child. They have two children, Zelda Rae (born July 31, 1989) and Cody Alan (born November 25, 1991). However, in March 2008, Garces filed for divorce from Williams, citing irreconcilable differences.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Williams had an addiction to cocaine; he has since quit. Williams was a close friend and frequent partier alongside John Belushi. He says the death of his friend and the birth of his son prompted him to quit drugs: "Was it a wake-up call? Oh yeah, on a huge level. The grand jury helped too."

On August 9, 2006, Williams checked himself into a substance abuse rehabilitation center, later admitting that he was an alcoholic. His publicist delivered the announcement: "After 20 years of sobriety, Robin Williams found himself drinking again and has decided to take proactive measures to deal with this for his own well-being and the well-being of his family. He asks that you respect his and his family's privacy during this time. He looks forward to returning to work this fall to support his upcoming film releases."

On August 20, 2007, Williams' elder brother, Robert Todd Williams, died of complications from heart surgery performed a month earlier.

Williams is a member of the Episcopal Church. He has described his denomination as "Catholic Lite — same rituals, half the guilt."

While studying at Juilliardmarker, Williams befriended Christopher Reeve. They had several classes together in which they were the only students, and they remained good friends for the rest of Reeve's life. Williams visited Reeve after the horse riding accident that rendered him a quadriplegic, and cheered him up by pretending to be an eccentric Russian doctor (similar to his role in Nine Months). Williams claimed that he was there to perform a colonoscopy. Reeve stated that he laughed for the first time since the accident and knew that life was going to be okay.

Health

Williams was hospitalized in March 2009 due to heart problems. Williams postponed his one-man tour in order to undergo surgery to replace his aortic valve. The surgery was successfully completed on March 13, 2009 at the Cleveland Clinicmarker.

Other interests

Williams speaking at the 2008 BBC World Debate


Williams is an avid enthusiast of games, enjoying pen-and-paper role-playing games and online video games, recently playing Warcraft 3, Day of Defeat, Half-Life, and the first-person shooter Battlefield 2 as a sniper. On January 6, 2006, he performed live at Consumer Electronics Show during Google's keynote. In the 2006 E3, on the invitation of Will Wright, he demonstrated the creature editor of Spore while simultaneously commenting on the creature's look: "This will actually make a platypus look good." He also complimented the game's versatility, comparing it to Populous and Black & White. Later that year, he was one of several celebrities to participate in the Worldwide Dungeons & Dragons Game Day.

Williams has gone on record as a fan of the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion, and incorporated a scene referencing it in One Hour Photo where he purchases a model kit from it as a gift.

A fan of professional road cycling, he was a regular on the US Postal and Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team bus and hotels during the years Lance Armstrong dominated the Tour de France. He owns over 50 bicycles.

He also enjoys rugby union and is a big fan of former All Black, Jonah Lomu.

Williams is a supporter of eco-friendly vehicles. He currently drives a Toyota Prius, but is on the waiting list to be an early adopter of the Aptera 2-series electric vehicle.

Charity work

Williams and his former wife, Marsha, founded the Windfall Foundation, a philanthropic organization to raise money for many different charities. Williams devotes much of his energy doing work for charities, including the Comic Relief fund-raising efforts. In December 1999, he sang in French on the BBC-inspired music video of international celebrities doing a cover of the Rolling Stones' "It's Only Rock & Roll" for the charity Children's Promise.

Williams has performed with the USO for U.S. troops stationed in Iraqmarker and Afghanistanmarker.

Filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1977 Can I Do It 'Till I Need Glasses? Himself
1980 Popeye Popeye
1982 The World According to Garp T.S. Garp
1983 The Survivors Donald Quinelle
1984 Moscow on the Hudson Vladimir Ivanov Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1986 Seize the Day Tommy Wilhelm
Club Paradise Jack Moniker
The Best of Times Jack Dundee
1987 Good Morning, Vietnam Adrian Cronauer Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role

1988 The Adventures of Baron Munchausen King of the Moon Credited as Ray D. Tutto
Portrait of a White Marriage Air Conditioning Salesman
1989 Dead Poets Society John Keating Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama

Back to Neverland Peter Pan
I'm from Hollywood Himself
1990 Awakenings Dr. Malcolm Sayer Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Cadillac Man Joey O'Brien
1991 Hook Peter Banning / Peter Pan
The Fisher King Parry Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Dead Again Doctor Cozy Carlisle
1992 Toys Leslie Zevo
Aladdin Genie/Merchant Voice
The Timekeeper The Timekeeper
FernGully: The Last Rainforest Batty Koda
Shakes the Clown Mime Class Instructor
1993 Mrs. Doubtfire Daniel Hillard/Mrs. Doubtfire Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Being Human Hector
1994 In Search of Dr. Seuss Father
1995 Aladdin and the King of Thieves Genie Voice
Jumanji Alan Parrish
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt
Nine Months Dr. Kosevich
1996 Hamlet Osric
The Secret Agent The Professor
Jack Jack Powell
The Birdcage Armand Goldman Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
1997 Good Will Hunting Sean Maguire Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture


Flubber Professor Philip Brainard
Deconstructing Harry Mel/Harry's Character
Fathers' Day Dale Putley
1998 Patch Adams Hunter "Patch" Adams Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Junket Whore Himself
What Dreams May Come Chris Nielsen
1999 Bicentennial Man Andrew Martin
Jakob the Liar Jakob Heym/Narrator
Get Bruce Himself
2000 Model Behavior Faremain
2001 A.I. Artificial Intelligence Dr. Know
2002 The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch Hans Hänkie
Insomnia Walter Finch
Death to Smoochy 'Rainbow' Randolph Smiley
One Hour Photo Sy Parrish
2004 Noel Charlie Boyd/The Priest
House of D Pappass
The Final Cut Alan W. Hakman
2005 The Big White Paul Barnell
Robots Fender
The Aristocrats Himself
2006 Man of the Year Tom Dobbs
Night at the Museum Theodore Roosevelt
Happy Feet Ramon/Lovelace (voice)
Everyone's Hero Napoleon Cross (voice)
RV Bob Munro
The Night Listener Gabriel Noone
2007 License to Wed Reverend Frank
August Rush Maxwell "Wizard" Wallace
2009 Shrink Holden
World's Greatest Dad Lance Clayton
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Theodore Roosevelt
Old Dogs Lead
2010 Wedding Banned John Fischer in development


Discography

Williams sings a version of "Come Together" with Bobby McFerrin on In My Life, a Beatles tribute album produced by George Martin. He also sings "A Mi Manera (My Way)", on the Happy Feet soundtrack. For the 1993 soundtrack of Mrs. Doubtfire, and the film, he sings a rendition of a fragment of Gioachino Rossini's "Largo al factotum" from The Barber of Seville.

Williams appeared in the music video of Bobby McFerrin's hit song "Don't Worry, Be Happy".
  • Reality...What a Concept (1979)
  • Throbbing Python of Love (1983)
  • A Night at the Met (1986)
  • Pecos Bill (1988)
  • Live 2002 (2002)


DVDs and videos

  • An Evening with Robin Williams (1982, VHS)
  • Robin Williams: Live at the Met (1986, VHS)
  • Robin Williams: Live on Broadway (2002)
  • Robin Williams: Raul's House 2 (2009)


Television guest appearances



References

  1. Sources conflict. The print biographies The Life and Humor of Robin Williams: A Biography and Robin Williams: A Biography give his birth year as 1952. The Robin Williams Scrapbook also gives a birth year as 1952, as does Encyclopedia Britannica. Williams refers to himself as being "55" in an interview published July 4, 2007. He also verifies his date of birth as July 21, 1951 in a fansite interview: Stuurman, Linda. RWF talks with Robin Williams: Proost!, May 25, 2008.
  2. Detroit Country Day: Frequently Asked Questions
  3. YouTube - Happy Days - Richie Meets Mork
  4. robinwilliams.com
  5. Robin Williams' wife files for divorce after nearly 19 years
  6. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=2515796
  7. http://www.newsdaily.com/stories/tre5247lm-us-williams/
  8. Jones, Kenneth. "Robin Williams' Spring Broadway Bow Postponed Due to Heart Surgery",playbill.com, March 5, 2009
  9. Interview at Pro-HL.com
  10. Engadget.com
  11. Robin Williams plays Spore
  12. Dungeons and Dragons Game Day at London Dungeon, ViewLondon.co.uk
  13. http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/index.php/t-10161.html
  14. http://www.ticketsnow.com/Robin-Williams-Tickets.html
  15. http://www.granvilleonline.ca/gr/features/2008/11/12/toyota-prius-hybrid-2009
  16. http://www.roadandtrack.com/article.asp?section_id=10&article_id=7651
  17. World Entertainment News Network. "Williams rekindles failed marriage on film," San Francisco Chronicle, August 28, 2009. Retrieved August 29, 2009.
  18. Bobby McFerrin Homepage




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