My wife and I recently watched a new documentary on the life and career of the late Robin Williams. From his humble beginnings to his elite stardom, interviews with family and friends revealed more than just the comedian. It was sobering to watch despite our laughter up until the very end.
As a kid, I knew Robin as Mrs. Doubtfire, Peter Pan, and the genie in Disney’s “Aladdin”. He made me laugh with his ability to do impressions, able to do voices I recognized (and some I didn’t). He was easy to recognize whenever I saw his picture on a movie poster or VHS (oh yeah, dating myself) cover. All too often, though, I didn’t realize he was not limited to comedy. Later in my life, he was also Mr. Keating, Adrian Cronauer, and Sean Maguire. These men were teachers of life still capable of making me laugh but provoking me to consider living and all its nuances. These are the roles he embodied that I gravitate more to as an adult, finding the gold that I don’t think I would have been able to understand or appreciate as a kid.
My appreciation for Robin Williams as a person is fully realized now after his unfortunate passing. I watch him on the screen and even if it’s one of his lesser known roles, I’ll watch in awe. The documentary I mentioned before revealed a man tormented but still able to put the joy of others before himself. He connected through laughter and thankfully, we’ve been given decades of conversations with him. And I cannot wait to introduce his amazing abilities to my son (we’ll start with “Aladdin” and go on from there).