I’ve discovered something about myself over the years. In dealing with the death of a beloved celebrity I don’t run marathons of their movies or listen non-stop to their music. That is all part of a grieving process and if that is what you do then that is just fine. Instead, for me, I found that my grief process is worked out by remembering my fondest moments of a particular celebrity. My first memory of Christopher Reeve was catching a helicopter in one hand and Margot Kidder in the other. Singer-songwriter Warren Zevon will always be the Werewolf of London for me. It’s not his song “Walk on the Wild Side“, but his album Street Hassle that is my fondest memory of Lou Reed. And, as I stated in an earlier post sometimes all it takes to be remembered is a scream that could send chills down my spine and I will continue to thank Marilyn Burns for that.
My earliest and fondest memory of Robin Williams was probably the same for millions of other people: Mork and Mindy. Every Thursday night would find me in front of the TV laughing my butt off and every Friday would find me in school mimicking what I watched in the hopes of getting a laugh out of a pretty girl. You want to know a guy that was all out for the Morkster then look no further because it was me. I wore my hair as shaggy as my parents would allow and I was even the proud owner of a pair of rainbow-colored suspenders that I wore so much that they finally snapped and popped my date right in the breast. Funny, we never went out again after that.
When Robin Williams would release a stand-up album I would wear it out. I laughed, I listened, I memorized and thanks to Mr. Williams I probably went well over my quota of girls I dated or even talked to thanks to his machine-gun wit.
I’m not going to go into the details of every aspect of Robin Williams’ life. I saw very few of his movies and liked his dramatic work more than his comedic; which is ironic since it was the fact that this man made me laugh so hard that endeared me to him. I think a lot of his comedies fell short for the simple reason that it was someone else’ words put in his mouth, someone else’ jokes. If you wanted a great Robin Williams comedy then you had to just let Robin Williams be Robin Williams.
In the end we realized that Robin Williams was the Pagliacci of our time. For those of you who have never heard the story it goes that a man goes to the doctor and tells him how sad he is and how life has no meaning anymore. The doctor tells him to go see the great clown, Pagliacci. That will cheer him up. The man breaks down and says, “But doctor, I am Pagliacci.” That is the story of Robin Williams in a nutshell; a man who spent so many years entertaining people, making them laugh and loving them all at face value; yet he never let it show that he was hurting and broken on the inside.
Finally, it is not my place to say this but I will go out on a limb and say it anyway: it is my belief that Robin Williams would not want us to remember the final moments of his life but instead the 63 years that came before them. Remember the laughter, the talent and above all the love that we had for him and he for us. Because if we don’t then we may as well say that his life meant nothing to us.