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Robin Williams

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Happy Days — “My Favorite Orkan” catalog card

There’s lots of reminiscing in the Moving Image Section today about Robin Williams. My younger colleagues first remember him from Aladdin (1992) and Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), for others it was his Eighties films Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) and Dead Poets Society (1989), and for folks of my generation, he’ll always be a little bit Mork. The online tributes frequently use words like “manic” and “irrepressible” to describe Williams, and certainly the amazing rapidity of his fertile mind and his barely contained energy were wondrous things to behold.



Robin Williams: An Evening at the Met (1986)

A word I haven’t seen a lot is “disciplined,” but that’s how I remember Williams. As much as I love his more antic persona, I’ve always been drawn to his subtler characterizations in films like Good Will Hunting (1998), One Hour Photo (2002), and the mordant World’s Greatest Dad (2010). As a performer, Williams was genuinely fearless–an actor unafraid to explore the darkest recesses of his soul, speaking with brutal honesty about his real life struggles with alcoholism, drug abuse, and depression. And yet we’ll remember him not for his demons, but for his unrestrained, ebullient joy. He was, truly, the opposite of a cynic.




Mork and Mindy — “Pilot” catalog card

We’re grateful to have a lot of Robin Williams’ career represented in our collection, including his very first appearance as Mork from Ork on a 1978 episode of Happy Days, his star-making ascent in Mork and Mindy**, his hilarious co-hosting appearances with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal on the HBO Comic Relief specials, and, of course, his films. His was an impressive body of work, and although we’re collectively saddened by his passing, we’re honored that so much of his artistic legacy is preserved here.


“Mork and Mindy Hour Special” copyright registration


** Interestingly, the pilot episode of Mork and Mindy was registered for copyright on 3 April 1979 as the “Mork and Mindy Hour Special,” but the Copyright Office returned the 16mm print to Paramount Television at their request. However, on 21 May 1981, under the provisions of the Motion Picture Agreement, we received a print back from Paramount.

Comments (8)

  1. Don’t forget his film debut in “Popeye.” Mixed reviews, but he was brilliant — and no one else living or dead could have created a live-action cartoon character like Robin Williams.

  2. Don’t forget about Patch Adams where Robin William played Dr. Patch. Dr. Patch said Laughter is the best medicine. Dr. Patch opened the Gesundheit Institute in West Virginia.

  3. good morning vietnam for ever. thank you 4 all robin.

  4. good morning vietnam for ever robin
    tthank you for all
    god will be very happy with you in the paradise

  5. The World According to Garp – why is no one talking about this film? He was absolutely wonderful as John Irving’s Garp.

  6. I hope Robin Williams receives all the joys of his next adventures, here on earth his joy will be missed by millions!

  7. Four years later, still dearly missed.

  8. As long as we’re naming his films, I recently saw Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King and it’s a great melding of his manic, over-the-top sensibilities with his more subtle and charming acting turns. He was an inspiration and I still remember the moment I heard the news of his terrible fate. Thanks for this!

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