Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014) was an American actor and comedian. Known for his improvisational skills and the wide variety of characters he created on the spur of the moment and portrayed on film, in dramas and comedies alike, he is often regarded as one of the best comedians of all time. Williams began performing stand-up comedy in San Francisco and Los Angeles during the mid-1970s, and rose to fame playing the alien Mork from Ork in the ABC sitcom Mork & Mindy (1978–1982), with Pam Dawber, Elizabeth Kerr, Conrad Janis, Tom Poston, Jay Thomas, Gina Hecht, and Jonathan Winters; for which he won a Golden Globe for Best Actor.
Williams had his first starring role in Robert Altman’s Popeye (1980), with Shelley Duvall, Paul Smith, Paul Dooley, Richard Libertini, and Ray Walston. Other films in the 1980s include George Roy Hill’s The World According to Garp (1982), with Mary Beth Hurt, Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Hume Cronyn, and Jessica Tandy; Michael Ritchie’s The Survivors (1983), with Walter Matthau, Jerry Reed, Kristen Vigard, and James Wainwright; and Paul Mazursky’s Moscow on the Hudson (1984), with María Conchita Alonso, Elya Baskin, Savely Kramarov, Alejandro Rey, and Cleavant Derricks.
Williams received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for Barry Levinson’s Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), with Forest Whitaker, Bruno Kirby, Robert Wuhl, J.T. Walsh, Noble Willingham, and Richard Edson; followed by a second nomination for Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society (1989), with Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, Norman Lloyd, and Kurtwood Smith.
Other films in the late 1980s include Roger Spottiswoode’s The Best of Times (1986), with Kurt Russell, Pamela Reed, Donald Moffat, and M. Emmett Walsh; Harold Ramis’ Club Paradise (1986), with Peter O’Toole, Rick Moranis, Jimmy Cliff, Twiggy, Adolph Caesar, Eugene Levy, Joanna Cassidy, Andrea Martin, and Brian Doyle-Murray; TV movie Seize the Day (1986), with Jerry Stiller, Joseph Wiseman, Richard B. Shull, Glenne Headly, and Stephen Strimpell; and Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), with John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Charles McKeown, Winston Dennis, Jack Purvis, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman, and Valentina Cortese.
Williams received his third Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for Gilliam’s The Fisher King (1991), with Jeff Bridges, Mercedes Ruehl, Amanda Plummer, and Michael Jeter. Other films in the early 1990s include Roger Donaldson’s Cadillac Man (1990), with Tim Robbins, Reed, Annabella Sciorra, Fran Drescher, and Lori Petty; Penny Marshall’s Awakenings (1990), with Robert De Niro, Julie Kavner, Ruth Nelson, John Heard, Penelope Ann Miller, and Max von Sydow; Dead Again (1991), with Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Andy García, Derek Jacobi, and Wayne Knight; Steven Spielberg’s Hook (1991), with Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins, and Maggie Smith; Toys (1992), with Michael Gambon, Joan Cusack, Robin Wright, LL Cool J, and Jamie Foxx; Chris Columbus’s Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), with Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan, Harvey Fierstein, and Robert Prosky; and Bill Forsyth’s Being Human (1994), with John Turturro, Anna Galiena, Vincent D’Onofrio, Hector Elizondo, Lorraine Bracco, Lindsay Crouse, Robert Carlyle, Theresa Russell, and Ewan McGregor.
Films in the mid 1990s include Nine Months (1995), with Hugh Grant, Julianne Moore, Tom Arnold, Cusack, and Jeff Goldblum; an uncredited role in Beeban Kidron’s To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995), with Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, John Leguizamo, Stockard Channing, Blythe Danner, Arliss Howard, and Chris Penn; Joe Johnston’s Jumanji (1995), with Kirsten Dunst, David Alan Grier, Bonnie Hunt, Jonathan Hyde, and Bebe Neuwirth; Mike Nichols’s The Birdcage (1996), with Nathan Lane, Gene Hackman, Dianne Wiest, Dan Futterman, Calista Flockhart, Hank Azaria, and Christine Baranski; Francis Ford Coppola’s Jack (1996), with Diane Lane, Jennifer Lopez, Drescher, and Brian Kerwin; an uncredited role in Christopher Hampton’s The Secret Agent (1996), with Hoskins, Patricia Arquette, Gérard Depardieu, Christian Bale, and Jim Broadbent; and Hamlet (1996), with Branagh (who also directed), Derek Jacobi, Julie Christie, Kate Winslet, Michael Maloney, Richard Briers, Nicholas Farrell, Depardieu, Jack Lemmon, Billy Crystal, Rufus Sewell, Charlton Heston, Richard Attenborough, Judi Dench, John Gielgud, and Ken Dodd.
Williams won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Gus Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting (1997), with Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver, Stellan Skarsgård, and Casey Affleck. Other films in the late 1990s include Ivan Reitman’s Father’s Day (1997), with Crystal, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Nastassja Kinski; Deconstructing Harry (1997), with Woody Allen (who also directed), Caroline Aaron, Kirstie Alley, Bob Balaban, Richard Benjamin, Eric Bogosian, Crystal, Judy Davis, Hazelle Goodman, Mariel Hemingway, Amy Irving, Kavner, Eric Lloyd, Louis-Dreyfus, Tobey Maguire, Demi Moore, Elisabeth Shue, and Stanley Tucci; Flubber (1997), with Marcia Gay Harden, Christopher McDonald, Ted Levine, Raymond J. Barry, Wil Wheaton, Clancy Brown, and the voice of Jodi Benson; What Dreams May Come (1998), with Sciorra, Cuba Gooding Jr., and von Sydow; Patch Adams (1998), with Monica Potter, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bob Gunton, Daniel London, Harve Presnell, and Peter Coyote; Jakob the Liar (1999), with Hannah Taylor Gordon, Alan Arkin, Balaban, Jeter, Armin Mueller-Stahl, and Liev Schreiber; and Bicentennial Man (1999), with Sam Neill, Embeth Davidtz, Wendy Crewson, and Oliver Platt.
Films in the early 2000s include One Hour Photo (2002), with Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan, Gary Cole, and Eriq La Salle; Death to Smoochy (2002), with Edward Norton, Danny DeVito (who also directed), Catherine Keener, and Jon Stewart; Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia (2002), with Al Pacino, Hilary Swank, Maura Tierney, Martin Donovan, Nicky Katt, and Dooley; The Final Cut (2004), with Mira Sorvino, Jim Caviezel, Mimi Kuzyk, Stephanie Romanov, Genevieve Buechner, and Brendan Fletcher; and an uncredited role in Noel (2004), with Penélope Cruz, Susan Sarandon, Paul Walker, Arkin, Daniel Sunjata, and Chazz Palminteri (who also directed).
Films in the mid 2000s include House of D (2005), with David Duchovny (who also directed), Anton Yelchin, Téa Leoni, Erykah Badu, Frank Langella, and his daughter Zelda Williams; The Big White (2005), with Holly Hunter, Giovanni Ribisi, Woody Harrelson, Tim Blake Nelson, W. Earl Brown, and Alison Lohman; The Night Listener (2006), with Toni Collette, Bobby Cannavale, Joe Morton, Rory Culkin, and Sandra Oh; Barry Sonnenfeld’s RV (2006), with Cheryl Hines, Joanna Levesque, Josh Hutcherson, Kristin Chenoweth, and Jeff Daniels; Man of the Year (2006), with Christopher Walken, Laura Linney, Lewis Black, and Jeff Goldblum; and Night at the Museum (2006), with Ben Stiller, Carla Gugino, Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, and Bill Cobbs.
Films in the late 2000s include License to Wed (2007), with Mandy Moore, John Krasinski, Christine Taylor, Eric Christian Olsen, and Josh Flitter; Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Terrence Howard, Alex O’Loughlin, and William Sadler; Bobcat Goldthwait’s World’s Greatest Dad (2009), with Daryl Sabara and Alexie Gilmore; Shrink (2009), with Kevin Spacey, Saffron Burrows, Keke Palmer, Mark Webber, Griffin Dunne, and Pell James; Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009), with Stiller, Amy Adams, Owen Wilson, Azaria, Christopher Guest, Alain Chabat, Steve Coogan, Ricky Gervais, Bill Hader, and Jon Bernthal; and Old Dogs (2009), with John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Matt Dillon, Justin Long, Seth Green, Rita Wilson, Dax Shepard, Lori Loughlin, and Bernie Mac.
Films in the 2010s include The Big Wedding (2013), with De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Diane Keaton, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, Ben Barnes, and Sarandon; Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013), with Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Lenny Kravitz, James Marsden, David Oyelowo, Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Rickman, Schreiber, and Clarence Williams III; The Face of Love (2014), with Annette Bening, Ed Harris, Amy Brenneman, Jess Weixler, and Linda Park; The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (2014), with Mila Kunis, Peter Dinklage, James Earl Jones, and Melissa Leo; A Merry Friggin’ Christmas (2014), with Joel McHale, Lauren Graham, Clark Duke, Platt, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Tim Heidecker, and Candice Bergen; Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014), with Stiller, Wilson, Coogan, Rami Malek, Gervais, Dan Stevens, Rebel Wilson, and Ben Kingsley; Boulevard (2015), with Kathy Baker, Roberto Aguire, Eleonore Hendricks, Giles Matthey, and Bob Odenkirk; and a voice role in Absolutely Anything (2015), with Simon Pegg, Kate Beckinsale, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Rob Riggle, Eddie Izzard, Joanna Lumley, with the voices provided by John Cleese, Gilliam, Idle, Terry Jones (who also directed), and Michael Palin.
Williams also voiced in the animated films FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992), with Tim Curry, Samantha Mathis, Christian Slater, Jonathan Ward, and Grace Zabriskie; Aladdin (1992), with Scott Weinger, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman, Frank Welker, Gilbert Gottfried, and Douglas Seale; Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996), with Weinger, John Rhys-Davies, Gottfried, Larkin, Jerry Orbach, and Frank Welker; Robots (2005), with McGregor, Halle Berry, Greg Kinnear, Mel Brooks, Amanda Bynes, and Drew Carey; Everyone’s Hero (2006), with Jake T. Austin, Rob Reiner, William H. Macy, Brian Dennehy, Raven-Symoné, Robert Wagner, Richard Kind, Joe Torre, Dana Reeve, Mandy Patinkin, Whitaker, and Whoopi Goldberg; George Miller’s Happy Feet (2006), with Elijah Wood, Brittany Murphy, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving, and E.G. Daily; and Happy Feet Two (2011), with much of the returning cast along with Ava Acres, P!nk, Meibh Campbell, Lil’ P-Nut, Common, Magda Szubanski, Brad Pitt, Damon, Sofia Vergara, Richard Carter, and Azaria.
On August 11, 2014, at age 63, Williams committed suicide at his home in Paradise Cay, California. His widow, Susan Schneider Williams, as well as medical experts and his autopsy, attributed his suicide to his struggle with Lewy body disease.
Each review will be linked to the title below.
(*seen originally in theaters)
(**seen rereleased in theaters)
- Can I Do It ‘Till I Need Glasses? (1977) – directed by I. Robert Levy
- Popeye (1980) – directed by Robert Altman
- The World According to Garp (1982) – directed by George Roy Hill
- The Survivors (1983) – directed by Michael Ritchie
- Moscow on the (1984) – directed by Paul Mazursky
- 1986 The Best of Times (1986) – directed by Roger Spottiswoode
- Club Paradise (1986) – directed by Harold Ramis
- Seize the Day (1986) – directed by Fielder Cook – TV movie
- Good Morning, (1987) – directed by Barry Levinson
- The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) – directed by Terry Gilliam – credited as Ray D. Tutto
- Portrait of a White Marriage (1988) – directed by Harry Shearer – uncredited cameo
- Dead Poets Society (1989) – directed by Peter Weir
- Cadillac Man (1990) – directed by Roger Donaldson
- Awakenings (1991) – directed by Penny Marshall
- 1991 Shakes the Clown (1991) – directed by Bobcat Goldthwait – credited as Marty Fromage
- Dead Again (1991) – directed Kenneth Branagh
- The Fisher King (1991) – directed by Terry Gilliam
- Hook Peter (1991)* – directed by Steven Spielberg
- A Wish for Wings That Work (1991) – directed by Skip Jones – TV short – credited as Sudy Nim
- FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)* – directed by Bill Kroyer
- Aladdin (1992)* – directed by Ron Clements & John Musker
- Toys (1992)* – directed by Barry Levinson
- Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)* – directed by Chris Columbus – also producer
- Being Human (1994) – directed by Bill Forsyth
- Nine Months (1995) – directed by Chris Columbus
- To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995) – directed by Beeban Kidron uncredited cameo
- Jumanji (1995)* – directed by Joe Johnston
- The Birdcage (1996) – directed by Mike Nichols
- Jack (1996)* – directed by Francis Ford Coppola
- Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996) – directed by Tad Stones – direct-to-video
- The Secret Agent (1996) – directed by Christopher Hampton – uncredited
- Hamlet (1996) – directed by Kenneth Branagh
- Fathers’ Day (1997)* – directed by Ivan Reitman
- Deconstructing Harry (1997) – directed by Woody Allen
- Flubber (1997)* – directed by Les Mayfield
- Good Will Hunting (1997) – directed by Gus Van Sant
- What Dreams May Come (1998) – directed by Vincent Ward
- Patch Adams (1998) – directed by Tom Shadyac
- Jakob the Liar (1999) – directed by Peter Kassovitz – also executive producer
- Bicentennial Man (1999)* – directed by Chris Columbus
- Get Bruce (1999) – directed by Andrew J. Kuehn – himself – documentary
- A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) Steven Spielberg – comics cameo
- One Hour Photo (2002) – Mark Romanek
- Death to Smoochy (2002) – directed by Danny DeVito
- Insomnia (2002) – directed by Christopher Nolan
- The Rutles 2: Can’t Buy Me Lunch (2002) – directed by Eric Idle – TV movie
- The Final Cut (2004) – directed by Omar Naim
- Noel (2004) – directed by Chazz Palminteri – uncredited
- Robots (2005) – directed by Chris Wedge
- House of D (2005) – directed by David Duchovny
- The Aristocrats (2005) – Penn Jillette & Paul Provenza – himself – documentary
- The Big White (2005) – directed by Mark Mylod
- RV (2006) – directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
- The Night Listener (2006) – directed by Patrick Stettner
- Everyone’s Hero (2006) – directed by Christopher Reeve, Daniel St. Pierre, & Colin Brady – uncredited
- Man of the Year (2006) – Barry Levinson
- Happy Feet (2006) – directed by George Miller
- Night at the Museum (2006) – directed by Shawn Levy
- License to Wed (2007) – directed by Ken Kwapis
- August Rush (2007)* – directed by Kirsten Sheridan
- World’s Greatest Dad (2009) – directed by Bobcat Goldthwait
- Shrink (2009) – directed by Jonas Pate
- Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)* – directed by Shawn Levy
- Old Dogs (2009) – directed by Walt Becker
- Happy Feet Two (2011) – directed by George Miller
- The Big Wedding (2013) – directed by Justin Zackham
- The Butler (2013)* – directed by Lee Daniels
- The Face of Love (2014) – directed by Arie Posin
- The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (2014) – directed by Phil Alden Robinson
- A Merry Friggin’ Christmas (2014) – directed by Tristram Shapeero – posthumous release
- Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014) – directed by Shawn Levy – posthumous
- Boulevard (2015) – directed by Dito Montiel – posthumous release
- Absolutely Anything (2015) – directed by Terry Jones – posthumous release