The entertainment world was rocked last night with the death of Robin Williams. Not surprisingly, social media has blown up with the news. My Facebook feed which had been flooded with videos of friends taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is now being flooded with videos of friends taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge AND comments and news about Robin Williams. So, I will join in on this trend, and give my thoughts on one of my favorite comedians/actors of the ’80s.
Like most people who were around at the time, my introduction of Robin Williams was his appearance as Mork on Happy Days in February 1978. I already liked Happy Days. But, when Mork appeared on the show, he blew my 7 year old mind away with his crazy energy. I loved him so much. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one, as he got his own spin-off show – Mork & Mindy.
Here is the battle between Fonzi and Mork in that Happy Days episode:
Mork & Mindy quickly became appointment TV for me. I don’t think I ever missed an episode. I thought Robin Williams was so great. And at such a young age, I had never heard of improv before. If I knew that Williams improvised many of his lines, I would have been even more impressed.
Here is the theme song from Mork & Mindy:
In the middle of Mork & Mindy‘s run, Robin Williams made his first appearance on the big screen, starring in Popeye (1980). I loved the Popeye cartoon, so my anticipation for this movie was at a fever pitch. I still remember a blue tee shirt I had with Williams as Popeye on the front of it along with the words “I Yam What I Yam.” From what I remember, I enjoyed most of the movie – except for the singing parts, which was half of the movie. Williams really nailed the character though, and I don’t think anybody else could have done it. He had all of the characteristics, even the little mumbling under his breath like they did in the cartoon. Here is the awesome ending of the movie:
The next highlight of Robin Williams’ career that I loved was the Comic Relief fund raiser that aired on HBO in the ’80s and beyond. Williams hosted the event along with fellow ’80s stand-up legends Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg. It was the first time I had seen Robin Williams’ stand up. He was all over the place just like in Mork & Mindy and in the movies. His energy and great impressions made me laugh so hard that my stomach hurt.
Here is some stand-up from Comic Relief. This may have been from the second one in 1987:
Speaking of laughing ’til my stomach hurt, one of my favorite movies of the ’80s was Good Morning, Vietnam. I saw the movie in the theater with a group of friends I very rarely laughed that hard in the theater. Not only was it funny, but the movie had its serious side too. I thought the movie balanced the comedy, drama, and suspense very well. My parents bought the soundtrack on cd, probably because it featured all the music they love. I liked the cd a lot because it also played Robin Williams’ bits as Adrian Cronauer throughout the cd. Here is Williams in action from the movie:
In recent years, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, and Will Ferrell have tried their hand in transitioning between comedy and drama. But, none of them could even come close to display the ability that Robin Williams had to do this.
My favorite Robin Williams drama is Dead Poets Society. Only Williams could make poetry interesting. I already love coming-of-age stories as it is. But, Williams made it that much better. Here is a scene from the movie:
I know and am very well aware of Robin Williams’ work throughout the ’90s and beyond (especially his Disney work in the movies and the parks), but I am going to wrap this up here.
I am very sad that we once again have lost a great icon. But, Robin Williams left us with a great body of work. It just makes you realize how short life can be. So, in the words of Williams’ John Keating, Carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.
Please leave your thoughts and favorite memories of Robin Williams. What is your favorite Robin Williams movie?Follow @returntothe80s