CONTINUING COVERAGE: Details Emerge About the Death of Robin Williams
By Mario Sevilla and Brian Shields
Tue Aug 12th, 2014 12:00pm America/Los_Angeles
SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Family, friends, colleagues, and fans are honoring the memory of actor and entertainer Robin Williams
The new information comes a day after the world was shocked to learn of the entertainer’s apparent suicide.
“This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings,” said Susan Schneider on Monday.
“I am utterly heartbroken.”
As word of his death spread, tributes from inside and outside the entertainment industry poured in.
“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit,” President Barack Obama said in a statement.
ROBIN WILLIAMS CALLED THE BAY AREA HOME
Williams came to the Bay Area as a teen from Chicago.
Born in 1951, Williams would remember himself as a shy kid who got some early laughs from his mother — by mimicking his grandmother.
He later moved to California where attended Redwood High School in Larkspur and joined the drama club. He continued to pursue his passion for acting at the College of Marin and was eventually accepted into the Juilliard Academy, where he had several classes in which he and Christopher Reeve were the only students and John Houseman was the teacher.
Williams purchased a home in San Francisco’s Sea Cliff neighborhood where residents recalled seeing him walk his dogs and ride his bicycle.
Winner of a Grammy in 2003 for best spoken comedy album, “Robin Williams — Live 2002,” he once likened his act to the daily jogs he took across the Golden Gate Bridge. There were times he would look over the edge, one side of him pulling back in fear, the other insisting he could fly.
“You have an internal critic, an internal drive that says, ‘OK, you can do more.’ Maybe that’s what keeps you going,” Williams said. “Maybe that’s a demon. … Some people say, ‘It’s a muse.’ No, it’s not a muse! It’s a demon! DO IT YOU BASTARD!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! THE LITTLE DEMON!!”
He also participated in various community events and fundraisers.
“Despite his success, he has never forgotten San Francisco. He was a philanthropist who gave generously, and he was a friend of the City,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.
“San Francisco is heartbroken by the tragic loss of Robin Williams who forever changed the world with laughter and joy. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time of mourning.”
The actor was often spotted in public with his three children, Zelda Rae Williams, Cody Alan Williams, Zachary Pym Williams, throughout the Bay Area. He recently posted a photo on Instagram of himself holding his daughter, Zelda Rae.
“#tbt and Happy Birthday to Ms. Zelda Rae Williams! Quarter of a century old today but always my baby girl. Happy Birthday @zeldawilliams Love you!,” the caption said.
DEPRESSION AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Williams has been open about the challenges of maintaining sobriety. When word spread about his struggles with drugs in the early 1980s, Williams responded with a joke that for a time became a catchphrase for his generation’s recreational drug use: “Cocaine is God’s way of telling you you are making too much money.”
He sought treatment in 2006 when he relapsed and returned to drinking after 20 years.
Williams joked about that fall off the wagon during a comedy tour, saying: “I went to rehab in wine country to keep my options open.”
He had been recently battling severe depression.
On July 1 of this year, Williams visited the 12-step program at a Minnesota facility to recharge after more than 18 straight months of work, according to his publicist.
Mara Buxbaum said Williams was “taking the opportunity to fine-tune and focus on his continued commitment, of which he remains extremely proud.”
His struggles never seemed to affect his talent.
BELOVED ACTOR AND COMEDIAN
From his breakthrough in the late 1970s as the alien in the hit TV show “Mork and Mindy,” through his standup act and such films as “Good Morning, Vietnam,” the short, barrel-chested Williams ranted and shouted as if just sprung from solitary confinement. Loud, fast, manic, he parodied everyone from John Wayne to Keith Richards, impersonating a Russian immigrant as easily as a pack of Nazi attack dogs.
Williams starred in the CBS series “The Crazy Ones” and the film “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn,” which was released in May. He had several other projects in the works, including another installment of “Night at the Museum.”
He was a riot in drag in “Mrs. Doubtfire,” or as a cartoon genie in “Aladdin.” He won his Academy Award in a rare, but equally intense dramatic role, as a teacher in the 1997 film “Good Will Hunting.”
He was no less on fire in interviews. During a 1989 chat with The Associated Press, he could barely stay seated in his hotel room, or even mention the film he was supposed to promote, as he free-associated about comedy and the cosmos.
“There’s an Ice Age coming,” he said. “But the good news is there’ll be daiquiris for everyone and the Ice Capades will be everywhere. The lobster will keep for at least 100 years, that’s the good news. The Swanson dinners will last a whole millennium. The bad news is the house will basically be in Arkansas.”
Following Williams on stage, Billy Crystal once observed, was like trying to top the Civil War. In a 1993 interview with the AP, Williams recalled an appearance early in his career on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” Bob Hope was also there.
“It was interesting,” Williams said. “He was supposed to go on before me and I was supposed to follow him, and I had to go on before him because he was late. I don’t think that made him happy. I don’t think he was angry, but I don’t think he was pleased.
“I had been on the road and I came out, you know, gassed, and I killed and had a great time. Hope comes out and Johnny leans over and says, ‘Robin Williams, isn’t he funny?’ Hope says, ‘Yeah, he’s wild. But you know, Johnny, it’s great to be back here with you.’”
In 1992, Carson chose Williams and Bette Midler as his final guests.
Like so many funnymen, he had serious ambitions, winning his Oscar for his portrayal of an empathetic therapist in “Good Will Hunting.” He also played for tears in “Awakenings,” ”Dead Poets Society” and “What Dreams May Come,” something that led New York Times critic Stephen Holden to once say he dreaded seeing the actor’s “Humpty Dumpty grin and crinkly moist eyes.”
In addition to his wife, Williams is survived by his three children: daughter Zelda, 25; and sons Zachary, 31, and Cody, 22.
A forensic examination is currently scheduled for August 12, 2014 with subsequent toxicology testing to be conducted.
Information provided by the Associated Press was used in this report.
(Copyright 2014, KRON 4, All rights reserved.)