News outlets are reporting that Robin Williams has died, of an apparent suicide. The actor and comedian, who was only 63, evidently had been battling severe depression.
Williams became a big star on the TV show Mork and Mindy, and over the next four decades he had a busy career in stand-up comedy, in movies, and as the voice for animated characters. Although many lauded his movie roles, both comic and serious, I always thought that Williams’ true medium was in his stand-up routines — his riff on Scotland and golf, below, is a classic — and he was absolutely brilliant as the voice and motivating spirit behind the manic genie in Disney’s Aladdin.
We tend to idolize Hollywood stars, musicians, and other cultural figures, and think that because they are rich and successful they must have wonderful lives. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case — they are human like the rest of us, and they also often wrestle with their inner demons. It’s tragic that someone like Robin Williams, who brought joy and laughter to millions, had to struggle with his own issues of depression, and it’s sadder still that he apparently lost that battle. Although we no doubt will hear about how the world has lost a titanic talent over the next few days, the real loss is that experienced by Williams’ family, who now have a gigantic hole in their lives that can never be filled.