Goodnight O'Captain My Captain: RIP Robin Williams

Goodnight O’Captain My Captain: RIP Robin Williams


On Sunday evening we learnt of the passing of Robin Williams at the age of 63 to an apparent suicide, a comedic legend on screen and on stage, beginning with his unique brand of stand up and the late seventies sitcom Mork and Mindy. For those of us of a certain age he touched our lives with his hurricane of ad libbing, brilliant impressions and manic energy to roles in Garp, Good Morning Vietnam, Hook, Popeye, Ms Doubtfire and the Genie in Alladin. Of course not everything he touched was a success but with his passing we remember him at his best.

In later years Robin was able to turn his talents to character acting with the likes of the memorably inspiring Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King, Insomnia and the sinister One Hour Photo.  But his comedic energy and wonderful talent, masked a bipolar disorder that blighted his life and a series of addictions that would eventually tragically take him from us.

Here are some of my favourite scenes

At GIITTV we were left saddened by his passing so today we present a small tribute collecting some of the reactions to his untimely death.

President Obama released the following statement following the news: “Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between,” wrote President Barack Obama in a statement issued by the White House. “But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit.”

Our very own Ben P Scott reacts to Robin Williams’s death “A few hours ago, I logged into my Twitter account and learned that the world had lost another legend. Comedy icon Robin Williams has died aged 63 in what is an apparent suicide. Bitterly ironic that a man who spent his whole life making the world laugh was suffering from severe and crippling depression. It’s like he sacrified his own happiness and well-being just to make the world a brighter place. I will never forget his ball-of-energy performance in ‘Good Morning Vietnam’, one of my favourite films of all-time. The film’s incredible soundtrack of 60s-era hits is also one of the very best, and today I will be playing that absolutely essential soundtrack album in honour of the legendary Williams. The film was the first place that I heard this soul classic by Martha Reeves And The Vandellas, and to this day every time I hear this song, I imagine it being introduced by Adrian Chronauer, the larger-than-life radio DJ that Robin portrayed so perfectly… ”

Longtime friend and colleague, Chevy Chase spoke about his friend: “Robin and I were great friends, suffering from the same little-known disease: depression. I never could have expected this ending to his life, and to ours with him… I cannot believe this. I am overwhelmed with grief. What a wonderful man/boy and what a tremendous talent in the most important art of any time – comedy! I loved him.”

Williams’s Good Will Hunting costar Ben Affleck wrote this on Facebook: “Heartbroken. Thanks chief — for your friendship and for what you gave the world. Robin had a ton of love in him. He personally did so much for so many people. He made Matt and my dreams come true. What do you owe a guy who does that? Everything.”

In comedian Russell Brand’s column for The Guardian about Williams, he wrote, “Robin Williams could have tapped anyone in the western world on the shoulder and told them he felt down and they would have told him not to worry, that he was great, that they loved him. He must have known that. He must have known his wife and kids loved him, that his mates all thought he was great, that millions of strangers the world over held him in their hearts, a hilarious stranger that we could rely on to anarchically interrupt, the all-encompassing sadness of the world. Today Robin Williams is part of the sad narrative that we used to turn to him to disrupt.”

Edinburgh based anti-folk musician Lach added his own thoughts on Robin’s passing on facebook: “A friend of mine passed on this past Christmas and I wrote the following, now, adjusted for Robin Williams:
It wasn’t suicide. We need a new word for this disease because that’s what it was. A disease. A specter Robin fought back against his whole life with humor, drive and compassion. Saying he “committed suicide” paints his last days as if he was a failure, if only he had cheered up; but it’s not like that. One wonders, “Why? He was so good at his art, so loved, so successful. Why? If I had what he had I wouldn’t have done that! Why? If I had called him this week I could have saved him. Why?”
The answer is easy, it’s a disease. It’s hard to see that sometimes but today we have enough information about the brain and depression to be able to call it what it was. Robin wasn’t weak in character, a failure, far from it. His death is so sad because he was so full of life but he had a disease that eventually just took over and took him out.
For sixty-three years Robin committed life and I will rededicate myself today to doing the same.
Love and mystery,

Comedian Jason Manford posted a thought-provoking tribute to Williams in the form of this appeal: “If you feel alone and down, anxious and low. If you feel deep sadness but can’t find a root cause. If people tell you to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘things can only get better’ or ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, know that it’s simply not always true. Sometimes it does kill you.

Please seek help. No one will think you’re being melodramatic, I swear. No one will think you’re silly or wasting people’s time. No one will say ‘what? But you’re always so happy, maybe you’re just having a bad day’. For some people, every day is a bad day and they get through it, but sometimes they stop getting through it.

If depression can (allegedly) kill Robin Williams, one of the world’s greatest funny men, well it can get any of us at any time. If the Genie from Aladdin can suffer and the DJ in Good Morning Vietnam can be affected by it, then so can you, or your child or friend or work colleague.

I always remind myself of the quote from Watchmen:

“Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life is harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor… I am Pagliacci.”

Please. Ask for help. If you have no one or if you don’t want to to tell them yet, then ring Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 for someone to talk to, or talk to your GP.

The world needs you even if you don’t think it does. I promise, we need you here, now.”

How will you remember Robin Williams?

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.