Robin Williams

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Robin Williams at the premiere of Happy Feet 2 (2011)

Robin McLaurin Williams (born July 21, 1951 in Chicago , Illinois - † August 11, 2014 in Paradise Cay , California ) was an American actor and comedian . He was best known for the 1978 sitcom Mork vom Ork . The Oscar and five-time Golden Globe winner played both tragicomic ( Good Morning, Vietnam , The Dead Poets Club ) and psychopathic roles ( One Hour Photo, Insomnia - Schlaflos ) , but also worked in family films ( Flubber , Jumanji , Mrs. Doubtfire - The Prickly Nanny , The Chaos Camper ) .


Origin and education

Williams grew up in affluent circumstances in Chicago and Bloomfield Hills near Detroit . His mother, Laura McLaurin, was the founder of a modeling agency and his father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams, was an executive at Ford . During his time in high school , he lived in Los Angeles and in Tiburon , a suburb of San Francisco .

After high school, he began studying political science in college , but dropped out. He now switched to the theater class, which he did not finish either. He took an improvisation seminar and appeared in the group The Comedy of San Francisco as a stand-up comedian . When America's premier drama school Juilliard’s auditioned in San Francisco, he attended and was accepted.

He moved to New York City at age 21 and befriended his classmate Christopher Reeve at Juilliard . The two were the only ones in their year to be accepted into John Houseman 's advanced class . After three years he went back to San Francisco and appeared again as a stand-up comedian in The Comedy Store in 1975 , where he met early companions such as Richard Pryor and Paul Mooney .

The voice of Robin Williams

Career in film and television

In 1977, George Schlatter, producer of the comedy show Laugh-In , became aware of him and had him appear for six episodes alongside Frank Sinatra and Bette Davis . This was followed by appearances on the Richard Pryor Show , which fell victim to the censorship of Network TV.

That same year he made a guest appearance as an alien named Mork on an episode of the sitcom Happy Days , which was very well received. The director of Paramount then designed a series for this character. The role of Mork from the Ork (Mork & Mindy) made Williams a star overnight.

Williams at the 1990 Academy Awards with journalist Yola Czaderska-Hayek

In 1980 Williams received a Grammy for Best Comedy Recording (Reality ... What a Concept) .

Williams suffered a bitter flop with his first film role in Robert Altman's Popeye - The Sailor with a Hard Blow (1980), but was able to two years later with the film adaptation of John Irvings Garp and How He Saw the World and Moscow in New York (1984 ), in which he portrayed an immigrant, received favorable reviews. In 1987 Williams made his breakthrough in a dramatic feature film, receiving a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for Good Morning, Vietnam . The Dead Poets Club , Time of Awakening (1990) and King of the Fishermen (1991) followed in 1989 , which earned Williams a reputation for having a keen sense for effective dramatic roles.

From 1991 he worked in a number of successful children's and youth films, including Hook and Flubber . In his sometimes sentimental films for an adult audience, he was - not always successfully - subscribed to the role of the good-natured, gentle emotional person. These include Behind the Horizon , Patch Adams , Jacob the Liar and The 200 Years Man . His biggest hits in the 1990s were Mrs. Doubtfire , The Birdcage and Good Will Hunting , for which he received an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

On George Martin's 1998 Beatles tribute album In My Life , he sang the title Come Together with Bobby McFerrin .

Williams (2007)

After the turn of the millennium , Williams tried to change his image and played psychopaths and negative characters for a while. Films like One Hour Photo or Insomnia and Williams' off-screen acting were well received by the critics. In 2006 he took on the lead role in Die Chaoscamper and returned to carefree children's films . In the same year he starred in Shawn Levy's comedy Night at the Museum alongside Ben Stiller. From 2013 he took on the sitcom The Crazy Ones for the first time since the beginning of his career a permanent role in a television series. However, the show was not a success for the broadcaster CBS and was discontinued in May 2014 after only one season.

Williams, one of the most popular actors among children, has also been a sought-after voice actor for animated films such as Aladdin (1992), Happy Feet (2006), and Happy Feet 2 (2011). He often took on small cameo appearances , so he appeared with Woody Allen in Harry beside himself and with Kenneth Branagh in William Shakespeare's Hamlet . In Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, he played Ray D. Tutto , the king of the moon. His appearance was not mentioned in To Wong Foo . His numerous guest appearances on television have included appearances on Friends , Everything Revolves around Bonnie and Wilfred .

Robin Williams in Iraq (2004)

Through the United Service Organizations , he appeared regularly in front of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Shortly before his death in early August 2014, the drama Boulevard was shot , the tragic comedy The Angriest Man in Brooklyn at the end of July 2014 , the comedy Merry Friggin 'Christmas at the beginning of July and the fantasy comedy Night at Museum 3: The Mysterious Tomb in June / July 2014 .

Family and hobbies

In 1978 Williams married Valerie Velardi; the couple had a son, Zachary, in 1983. In 1989, the actor married Marsha Garces , his son's nanny at the time. The two have two children, daughter Zelda Rae and son Cody Alan. Garces filed for divorce in early 2008. On October 23, 2011, Williams married Susan Schneider, his third wife, in St. Helena ; Best man was his friend Bobcat Goldthwait .

Williams was an avid cyclist and often attended the Tour de France . He is said to have owned over 100 bikes and friends like Greg LeMond were among his friends. As an early hobby in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung 2011 , he cited collecting model soldiers , which he described as suppressing his loneliness due to a lack of friendships through various moves in his childhood.

According to his own statement, Williams bought a Nintendo Entertainment System in the 80s ; Williams was a big fan of the game series The Legend of Zelda , which is why he also named his daughter Zelda. With his daughter, he also advertised and appeared in a 2011 commercial for Nintendo for the game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D . He was also an avid player of pen and paper role-playing games and tabletops , such as Dungeons & Dragons and Warhammer .

In 1986, Williams co-founded the Comic Relief USA charity with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal , which hosts an annual television gala for the benefit of the homeless. Together with his second wife Marsha, he founded the Windfall Foundation , which collects funds for various social causes. He also long donated to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

health status

Williams suffered from major depression, according to his 2014 spokeswoman . He said he was addicted to alcohol and cocaine as early as the 1970s . Since the drug death of his friend John Belushi in 1982, which he had seen on the eve of his death, and before the birth of his first son, he was considered abstinent . After he relapsed in the summer of 2006, he immediately decided to start another withdrawal . In the autumn of 2006 he resumed his work. Williams was open about his addiction and spoke about it publicly on various talk shows. He also took up the subject self-deprecatingly in his last stage program, Weapons of Self Destruction . At the end of June 2014, Williams again voluntarily went to a rehabilitation center because he feared a relapse. According to his wife, he suffered from early-stage Parkinson's disease and anxiety . Most of all, as the autopsy showed, in the last months of his life he suffered from Lewy body dementia , a deadly neurodegenerative disease.



Williams was found dead by police minutes after receiving an 911 call on August 11, 2014 at his home in Paradise Cay, California. In the first published report, dated Aug. 12, the assistant coroner for the Marin County Sheriff's Office testified that Williams hanged himself on a belt and suffocated. The November 5, 2014 autopsy report describes that Williams suffered from a neurodegenerative disease called Lewy body dementia , which can lead to fluctuating moods and depression . The cause of death was given as suicide . Williams was cremated the day after his death and the ashes were scattered on San Francisco Bay .


On August 12, 2014, Caren Miosga Williams honored by moderating the news program Tagesthemen temporarily standing on the news desk. Also Armin Wolf from the Austrian news program Zeit im Bild him honored in a similar way. With this gesture they alluded to The Dead Poets Club , one of Robin Williams' most famous films, in the final scene of which students stand on their desks to pay their respects to their teacher. Photos of fans with this gesture were also posted on social media.

For a minute's silence, the lights were turned off on Broadway on the evening of August 13, 2014 ; thus the New York theater district honored the late actor.

The state of California dedicated a tunnel to him near the city of San Francisco. The tunnel connects the Golden Gate Bridge with Marin County and is known for its rainbow-decorated driveway. A sign reading "Robin Williams Tunnel" was placed in front of the tunnel on February 29, 2016.

The British music group Iron Maiden dedicated the song Tears of a Clown to him , and the American musician Cee-Lo Green recorded the piece Robin Williams in William's honor . In 2018, a biographical documentary about Robin Williams by Marina Zenovich, Come inside my Mind , premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. At the beginning of September 2020, the documentary Robin's Wish was published, which focuses on Williams' confrontation with his illness in the last year of his life.


German voice actors

In the German versions of his films he was mostly dubbed by Peer Augustinski .

When Robin Williams received an Oscar for Good Will Hunting in 1997 , he is said to have sent Peer Augustinski a small Oscar with the lines "Thank you for making me so famous in Germany."

After he suffered a stroke in late 2005, Williams wrote him a thank you letter wishing him well. In the meantime, Williams was voiced by Bodo Wolf . From December 2007 on Augustinski could be heard again as his German voice, for example in the film Der Klang des Herzens (August Rush) and also in Nachts im Museum 2 . According to an interview with Augustinski at Markus Lanz , the dubbing companies then decided that Bodo Wolf should continue to dub Williams.

An overview of all German Robin Williams voice actors and movies contains the German synchronous index .

Film awards

Williams' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hand and footprints outside Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard

Academy Award ( Oscar )



Golden Globe



Golden Raspberry


National Board of Review Award


Discography (selection)

  • 1979: Reality ... What a Concept (LP; US: goldgold)
  • 2002: Live on Broadway (video album; US:Nine-fold platinum× 9Nine-fold platinum )


  • Meinolf Zurhorst : Robin Williams. The serious comedian. Heyne Film Library (Volume 208). Heyne, Munich 1994, 214 pages, ISBN 3-453-08122-6 .
  • Nick Young: Robin Williams. Hollywood star with a heart. A cinema book. Lübbe, Bergisch Gladbach 1992, 225 pages, ISBN 3-404-61243-4 .

Web links

Commons : Robin Williams  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. Kid Rock and Robin Williams rock Kabul. In: July 21, 2007, accessed May 21, 2016 .
  2. Maren Koetsier: Oscar winner and comedian Robin Williams died at the age of 63 . In: , August 12, 2014
  3. New Films with Robin Williams - The Madest Man in Brooklyn . In: Sü , August 13, 2014.
  4. Marriage at the end - Robin Williams is getting divorced In: Spiegel Online , accessed on March 5, 2016.
  5. Remembering Robin Williams the cyclist. Canadian Cycling Magazine, August 13, 2014, accessed August 14, 2014 .
  6. Elaine Lipworth: Actor Robin Williams: Funny man, happy . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung , December 3, 2011.
  7. Robin Williams spokeswoman confirms depression . In: dpa , , August 12, 2014
  8. ^ Alcohol and cocaine: US actor Robin Williams in therapy clinic . In: Spiegel Online , July 2, 2014
  9. Andreas Borcholte: On the death of Robin Williams: Laughing at the abyss . In: Spiegel Online , August 12, 2014
  10. ^ Robin Williams talks to Kerry O'Brien about his battles with addiction . In: ABC News (Australia) on YouTube . Retrieved September 8, 2014.
  11. ^ Weapons of Self Destruction (audio recording from Constitution Hall in Washington, 2010), on YouTube . Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  12. ^ Robin Williams In Rehab Facility To Maintain Sobriety . In: , July 1, 2014, accessed August 12, 2014.
  13. Robin Williams suffered from Parkinson's disease . In: Sü , August 14, 2014.
  14. According to wife Susan Schneider, the late Robin Williams had Parkinson's . In: , August 15, 2014
  16. Suspected suicide: Hollywood actor Robin Williams is dead . In: , August 12, 2014. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
  17. Robin Williams, Oscar-Winning Comedian, Dies at 63 . In: The New York Times , August 11, 2014. 
  18. Robin Williams Dies of Suspected Suicide . In: The Hollywood Reporter , August 11, 2014. 
  19. Lesley Messer: Robin Williams Died in an Apparent Suicide by Hanging , ABC News. August 12, 2014. 
  20. ^ Robert T. Doyle: Coroner's Report In The Matter Of The Death Of Robin McLaurin Williams. (PDF) Office Of The Coroner, Hall Of Justice, San Rafael, California 94903, November 5, 2014, accessed June 5, 2019 .
  21. Robin Williams has already been cremated . In: , August 21, 2014.
  22. Topics of the day from August 12, 2014 (at 25:05 minute). In: Topics of the day. August 12, 2014, accessed April 14, 2017 .
  23. Zeit im Bild 2 from August 12, 2014. In: ORF. August 12, 2014, accessed August 10, 2018 .
  24. Armin Wolf rises on the table in honor of Robin Williams. In: Courier. August 12, 2014. Retrieved July 21, 2017 .
  25. #MyCaptain: Standing on tables: So the network says goodbye to Robin Williams - FOCUS Online. Retrieved July 15, 2019 .
  26. Broadway turns off the lights for Robin Williams. In: August 14, 2014, accessed August 14, 2014 .
  27. California dedicates a tunnel to Robin Williams . In: , March 2, 2016.
  28. Jump up ↑ Iron Maiden's new album: Reflecting on the Clown . In: Spiegel Online . August 24, 2015 ( [accessed November 24, 2017]).
  29. Cee Lo Green Drops Interactive 'Robin Williams' Lyric Video . In: Rolling Stone . ( [accessed November 5, 2017]).
  31. Robin Williams. In: German synchronous file , accessed on February 12, 2021 .
  32. Music Sales Awards: US