AirTalk for August 12, 2014

Our industry town remembers Robin Williams' dazzling talent, big heart

"Catch Me If You Can" Broadway Opening Night - Arrivals & Curtain Call

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 10: Actor Robin Williams attends the Broadway opening night of "Catch Me If You Can" at the Neil Simon Theatre on April 10, 2011 in New York City.

His comic energy burst into America's living rooms nearly 40 years ago as the alien Mork on planet Earth learning a range of human emotions.

Director Garry Marshall recalls crafting "Mork and Mindy" to accommodate the awesome breadth of Robin Williams' range: "[I] knew immediately that a three-camera format would not be enough to capture Robin and his genius talent. So I hired a fourth camera operator and he just followed Robin. Only Robin."

The brighter the light, the darker the shadows is an apt saying to describe Williams, who was known to battle addiction and depression. He will also be remembered for his compassion.  

The creator of charity organization Comic Relief, Bob Zmuda, told the LA Times, "The first time we went to one of the shelters in downtown L.A., on skid row, when he got up in front of the homeless folk, he froze. He was so taken aback. The director of the homeless shelter came back and asked Robin, 'What happened? They love you and they expect you to be funny.' So he went back out and killed it."

Rick Morse, an entertainment attorney who went to high school with Williams, shares how he saw some of Williams' talent starting as a drama student as well as encountering him years later:

"There, you saw a really gifted actor. Shakespeare was his passion, also Russian literature. You saw someone really special emerging. Years later I saw a concert with Steve Martin and Martin Mull, it just so happened that this unknown named Robin Williams was the fourth bill at the bottom, and he stole the show. It was just amazing, it was like 'Oh my God, my old buddy from high school!' The next day, I'm at poolside and I look over and he's sitting right next to me, smiling. I hadn't seen him in years, since I'd gone away to school, and he tells me 'I gotta tell you something, it's about this show, Mork and Mindy, it's in the can and it's going to be coming out and I'm kinda worried about it.' He told me the premise, and I said, 'Oh my God, Robin, it sounds horrible! You gotta get out of it, I'll break your contract, I'm a second-year law student, I'll get you out if this!"

"He started laughing and he goes, 'No, it's not going to be that bad, don't worry about it. Come into my show tonight and we'll have fun.' And of course, it went to number one in the first season. That shows you why I'm not a network programming executive and why Robin was Robin."

Williams, 63, died of suspected suicide last night in Marin County. If you ever met Williams, what do you remember? What are your favorite moments of his career? How do you feel about his passing?  


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