One of the happiest nights I ever spent was in Los Angeles, when my friend Alan Rickman was filming Die Hard, and a bunch of us went to the house he was renting above Sunset and watched Robin Williams do a live, televised stand-up show (I think it was Live at the Met). We were literally crying with laughter, in puddles on the floor.
How could any one man be so funny, so clever, so on-target, and so endearing? I interviewed him several times and he always gave great copy to journalists. But then I made the mistake of accidentally sitting next to him one night at a dive-y comedy club, also in L.A., and his then-wife glared at me with shocking malevolence. Maybe he was out of his tree that night. Who knows. But I still remember that evening.
Like so many other comedians, Robin battled demons. There was the highly public battle with cocaine and drink. There were divorces. There was a recent stay in rehab and other rumors of late.
Not many know, too, that he was utterly devastated when his close friend and former roommate Christopher Reeve died in 2004, and then Christopher’s wife, Dana, died a scant two years later from lung cancer when she was only 44.
But to have killed himself at 63 is just….beyond.
For a man who spoke so quickly, his mind moving at warp speed, his every other word a laugh, his genius for improv jaw-dropping, I am stunned into speechlessness.
He made so many people laugh and cry over the years, from Mork & Mindy to Mrs. Doubtfire to the Genie in Aladdin to Good Morning, Vietnam to his Oscar-winning performance in Good Will Hunting.
And he’s tragic proof that even when you have astonishing talent and world-wide acclaim and wonderful children and a loving spouse, depression is a very real illness.
And a very real killer.