Robin Williams, and How He Got His Start
Robin Williams is an American actor and comedian. Robin McLaurin Williams was born on July 21, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois. Robin Williams got his start by preforming standup comedy in San Francisco and Los Angeles In the mid 1970’s and is credited with leading the San Francisco comedy renaissance. After developing his improvisational style as a stand-up comedian, Williams set off for fame. Eventually becoming one of America's funniest performers, Williams attended Claremont Men's College and College of Marin before enrolling at the Juilliard School in New York City. There, he befriended and became roomies with fellow actor Christopher Reeve. Williams later experimented with comedy in San Francisco and Los Angeles, developing a successful stand-up act.
His life on TV
Williams had done work on TV programs like The Richard Pryor Show, Laugh-In and Eight Is Enough before becoming more widely known to American audiences as the alien Mork. The character debuted on the series Happy Days before being given his own show, Mork & Mindy. Williams co-starred with Pam Dawber in the zany, endearing sitcom, which debuted in 1978 and ran for four seasons.
Having been part of the cast of the 1977 romp Can I Do It 'Till I Need Glasses?, Williams made his big-screen debut in a lead role playing the famous spinach-eating sailor in Popeye (1980), directed by Robert Altman and co-starring Shelley Duvall. A string of successful film roles for Williams followed over the years, showcasing his stellar comedic talents as well as his ability to take on serious work. He played the title character in 1982's The World According to Garp as well as a Russian musician who defects to America in Moscow on the Hudson (1984). Later, in Good Morning Vietnam (1987), Williams portrayed irreverent radio DJ Adrian Cronauer, while in Dead Poets Society (1989) he played free-thinking teacher John Keating. Both projects earned him Academy Award nods for lead actor.
While his career was taking off, Williams faced many personal challenges. He developed a drug and alcohol problem while working on the sitcom Mork and Mindy, and would struggle with addiction for more than two decades. He also became involved in several tumultuous romantic relationships; while married to actress Valerie Velardi, he was involved with other women. Williams and Velardi ultimately divorced in 1988. The following year, he married his son's nanny, Marsha Garces.
Despite personal setbacks, Williams continued acting. He appeared in the hit Penny Marshall drama Awakenings (1990) with Robert De Niro and Julie Kavner, and received his third Oscar nomination for his role as homeless man Parry in the 1991 redemptive drama The Fisher King. Tackling family-friendly fare as well, he starred as a grown-up Peter Pan in Hook (1991) and provided the voice of the genie in Disney's animated film Aladdin (1992). Williams starred in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumangi (1995) and Flubber (1997) as well.
Robin Williams was without a doubt a very influential actor. He was capable of making millions of people feel emotions through his films and standup comedy. In today's day and age, we can only hope to influence people such as he has.
Want to learn more about how famous people got their rise to success? Check out Mike Fallats latest book Zero to Hero and keep a look out for more blog posts on the topic coming soon!