Another post about Robin Williams…
During my short life of 20 years, one thing that bothered me the most was gossips. Newspapers. Magazines. People, especially girls. I threw hates back to Robin’s haters when I couldn’t take it anymore but they seem to resort to their misunderstandings and they seemed to like it. But things sometimes have to be said, have to be cleared out. I tried to tell the story exactly the way Robin opened up. I also tried to avoid assuming too much – just enough to make people understand better, not to make it sound like a fantasy of mine – and I hope none of these is violating his and his family’s privacy. Hope this helps everybody.
- Robin stole other comedians’ materials for his stand up routines.
Robin’s thoughts about comedians’ accusations, Jan 1992.
Note: for the rest of his life, he grasped every chance to be onstage, but was always careful not to bother any other regular comedians. Years later in 2000s and 2010s, when new generation of comedians flew into every nightclubs, Robin was able to ‘join’ others in various gigs including Set List, an improvisation show in San Francisco. I cannot explain how come he loved that kind of terrifying thrill of improvising and doing numerous stand ups in front of different sets of people every night, because I think it would give me heart attacks if I followed his schedule.
He did not, or at least without any malicious purposes or intentions. Also, after years he started to avoid as much as possible to hang around comedians, he was blamed for repeating his jokes, like what South Park says. Complain, complain…
2. Robin married his nanny, who broke up his marriage.
Robin’s explanation about his family affair and Marsha, Jan 1992.
Note: what Robin was talking about was People’s cover issue of his private life.
This also proves the infamous Stefan Molyneux golddigger opinion (too grand to be called an opinion, really, in other words, it’s “redundant,” which word ironically Robin frequently used in his stand up routines) wrong.
Firstly, his first wife, Valerie, was like a friend to him. Their son Zak was close to both his parents. He studied Linguistics in college, graduated with MBA(Letterman, Sept 25 2013), got married, and works in economics field. He is also a big hearted man like his father was, and he was seen working in a prison, teaching the inmates finance. According to Molyneux’s theory about family relationships, it is absolutely impossible for Zak to grow up normally if his parents were bonded only by money.
The couple split in around 1985, due to irreconcilable reasons, one of them being the court case of Robin and a girl who claimed she got herpes(STD) from him. (This incident is the one which broke up the marriage, according to Robin) It is unknown how their trial ended, and whether her claim was true.
(Three possible reasons he didn’t open up about the result of the trial – One, legal reasons. His attorneys might have encouraged not to speak about it in public. Two, because he never remembered who she was and what happened, nor did he know whether he ‘had’ herpes. The incident might have happened during his alcohol and drug period. Three, because of his nature of being a private person. There is no reason for him to open up about it. If there is, it’s only because people want to make him the second Fatty Arbuckle. Robin referred to Arbuckle case many times(even in movie Death to Smoochy) when it came to similar incidences(for example, he defended Paul Reubens). He used to watch Buster Keaton(from Ray Martin Interview, Robin Williams Unplugged), and probably some Arbuckle too.)
Robin’s thoughts on Paul Reubens. Jan, 1992.
Secondly, Marsha was an assistant and nanny at the same time. Years flew by until Robin and Marsha settled together. At first, Robin and Valerie had split. As he had to go through the trials(1986-July 1992), Valerie was moving on. Robin was supported by his friend and assistant, Marsha, but he had to check himself in for therapy sessions. They got involved after Valerie moved on without Robin. Case closed. Marsha did not break up his marriage.
In his interview above, Marsha is described as a very down-to-earth, responsible, loving person. She took Robin down to the ground when he was flying above the clouds, and helped him pull himself up when he was insecure. His assistant he had until his death named Rebecca Erwin Spencer, did the same for him(Robin’s Golden Globes Cecil B. DeMile Award speech). Marsha was a helper, and a great, loving mother to her children, Zelda and Cody. Marsha and Robin split in 2010, in a quiet manner. Even after their divorce, Zelda and Cody was close to Robin, and so was Marsha. Molyneux’s golddigger issue is not true, considering how strong and devoted Robin’s relationship was with Marsha.
Personally, my mother is kinda like Marsha to me. She puts me down to the ground and brings me back up from despair. It’s important to have a friend, or a family member who does that for you. I saw some photographs of Marsha with Robin and she even looked like my mom(my dad doesn’t resemble Robin at all. The skeletal structure of my dad’s face looks like Keanu Reeve’s.). No kidding. I guess the same kind of people have similar looks, like what people often say, for example, “he looks like a businessman,” “she looks sincere.”
Howard Stern interviewed Robin in 1986 and attacked him regarding Marsha. Stern publicly announced in an interview published after Robin’s death that he tried to apologize days before Robin passed away. Stern did not.
I don’t know where this photo came from, but this might solve this problem completely. A family photo. There they all are, Marsha, Robin, Zelda, Cody (possibly with his girlfriend), and Zak (I think he’s with his wife). This looks like it was taken around 2012-2014.
3. Robin killed himself due to depression.
Read my other post about his passing.
The priority comes like this: LBD and then depression. He wasn’t weak. He wasn’t abusing himself with drugs or alcohol. He liked war toys when he was little, and in his later years he carried pocket knives all the time, but he never self-harmed. And please, don’t freak out every time when you re-watch some bits where he talks about depression or death. He was a human being, like you, not a ghost that haunts you every night. He has things to do in Heaven. Here’s what he said about death of celebrities in America:
And I remember this from an interview he did, unlike other Robin’s quotes, which are mostly from his movies.
Another note: he did NOT die of autoerotic asphyxiation. It’s his character’s son in World’s Greatest Dad. Movie is a movie, not a reality. Like he said in one of his Comic Relief gigs, “no movies are real.”
Another side note: Then, what did make him cry? Well, there is an example.
Robin on his first year at Juilliard, 1982.
Note: he relapsed into his alcoholic phase in 2003. He was on location in Alaska for 2005 film called The Big White, a dark comedy with beautiful scenery and performances. He often said in many interviews that he felt alone at the time and thought alcohol would help him. He joked that it was three years later he decided he needed help from someone other than himself.
Laurence Grobel, Robin Williams Answers 83 Questions, 2002
4. Robin gave drug-fueled performances when he was on Mork and Mindy.
I saw lots of comments in Youtube saying this below every clips of Mork and Mindy or any performances he did so wonderfully.
Robin’s thoughts on people assuming he gave drugged performances. 1982.
Robin said in many interviews that he was never drugged on stage or camera, except one occasion. He tried cocaine in one standup gig in late 1970s, and experienced on-stage paranoia. Although the reception of that gig was good, he recalled, he decided never to try it again. He also added that he wanted to have control over his performances.
5. Robin’s childhood is a great example of child abuse.
He repeatedly told interviewers that he had a happy childhood, but he admitted he lacked a lot of parental contact. I can’t fully understand his publicized view, though, particularly because he said “I don’t remember elementary school I went to” in the famous Inside the Actors Studio episode. He forgot about his early life before high school, or he might have been trying to cover up his extremely private memories, which could be bad ones like bullying. He was a very private and careful person in real life, so there is a possibility of covering up. But he did not agree with the idea of his parents being terrible. He thought the worst events in his life were his parents’ death(his father in 1987, his mother in 2001, just a few days before 9/11). He remembered his father first when he was giving his unnerving speech(I mean he was nervous, not that he gave a bad speech) upon receiving his Oscar in 1998, so much so he forgot to thank his mother, who was in the audience with Marsha. He must have missed him very much.
– At the Red Carpet, Oscars, 1998. Watch 1:41. He says “It’s a netsuke(pronounced NET-SOO-KAE) my father gave me. I can’t open it now.”
#1. Robin’s treasures, 1982.
#2 Laurence Grobel, Robin Williams Answers 83 Questions, 2002
——> Probably looks like this.
Momotaro(The Peach Boy), or in Robin’s words, Peach Seed Man, is a hero from a famous Japanese folklore. In the story, an old couple spots a giant peach flowing down the nearby creek. They were hungry and poor, but their most desperate wish was having a child. They take it out of the water and cut the peach in half. Then, a strong, healthy, bright baby boy bursts out of the peach. The couple make him their son, and name him Momotaro(Taro: eldest son; Momo: a peach).
Years later, Momotaro grows up to be a brave boy, and goes for an adventure to defeat the demon with a talking dog, a monkey and a pheasant, all of whom Momotaro befriended after giving each of them sweet rice cakes his mother made for him. Momotaro and his friends eventually win the battle, get the treasures, and come back home. Momotaro lives with his parents happily ever after.
Robin meant everything to his father. And Robin took his father’s message to his heart.
Robin’s parents’ support for his decision of becoming an actor, 1982.
Robin on how his dad was like, Jan, 1992.
Note: His father’s advice of “talking about things you care about” influenced him a lot. The result is his involvement in various causes, and speaking about politics and stuff in comic routines and public interviews, even though he sometimes received backlashes from people ranging from a random person in New York to Cardinals and Senators. Zelda learned this lesson from Robin, and she is also active in many causes.
Another side note: Robin did try welding. But when he saw his teacher coming in with his one eye squinted like Popeye and saying “as you can see, welding is a dangerous feat,” he gave it up.
Personal side note: I wanted to be an actor since I was 13. I told my mother that first year I started to be interested in acting and I was harshly rejected. She had her own dark perspective on the profession. And several times I told my parents over and over, but only rejections came back. What they said was so hurting that I can remember every single line they said to me each time. Now acting is my secret passion, and I don’t intend to tell this to anybody. Robin was extremely lucky because his parents supported his decision, even though his father was a Ford executive, who was also a war veteran, and had a cynical sense of humor and a sense of the dark side of reality. In most cases with parents who went through harsh lives, it’s impossible for the kids to dream of something like acting. The parents would rather encourage their kids to have more secure jobs, and not to let themselves starve at any circumstances because the last thing those parents want is seeing their kids go through the reality like the way they did. Worries are what parents do, but sometimes, when worries become bigger, their children suffer. In my case, I developed some kind of anxiety and depression, because I couldn’t defeat my stubbornness nor my parents’s stubbornness.
Although Robin’s parents were absent most of his childhood, he was loved, and he knew it. Robin’s mother was busy due to her modeling career, and his father was away from home because of his work he did for Ford Motor Company. He was not abused by his parents.
6. He was always manic in his life. And now he died of depression, so he was actually a sad clown?
He was not manic all the time. He once spoke about being a manic-styled performer(from an interview):
He wasn’t a sad clown. The reason why he occasionally talked about depression and struggles of life is that he was introspective. He tried to understand himself, and sometimes, when he was ready, he performed his worries as his comedy materials, like his hero Richard Pryor (but Robin was more sensitive about performing about private matters. Robin admitted Pryor was even more revealing and fearless on stage).
Peter Sellers, chameleonic comic actor who is famous for Dr. Strangelove or How to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, The Goon Show and Being There, and is admired by almost every comedy actors who prefer to make comedic characters than speaking with their own voice, was considered as and claimed himself as a sad clown. He had a deep mental problem regarding his mother, private life, and his personality that preferred to wear other people’s masks rather than being himself. He was struggling but never sought for the fundamental solutions. To me, although I respect him higher than any comedians for his genius, he said he couldn’t find his own voice(he used different accents in interviews and he seemed to change his personality even in his private life – he was part mimic part method actor, insisted not to break his character) and he was a sad clown(to make it clear, he never used this term, but he indicated it in many occasions) because he wanted to be remembered as a mythical genius. He never tried to seek for the truth, and because of that, he remained a kid who wanted his mom by his side(whose death in 1965 affected him so badly that he would cry looking up to the sky), and he always sought for help, which was so demanding his wives constantly left him. Sad clown theory is, I believe, a myth, not a real story.
7. He was a man child and a hardcore gamer.
He was interested about many things. (and gave up many times also. He gave up trying out directing(only one credit – the grand finale of Mork and Mindy) and writing as a screenwriter as his career began to focus more and more on his acting.) Politics, unfairness in the world, human and animal behaviors(he loved nature documentaries), science(especially physics), movies(his favorite director, I think, is Stanley Kubrick – especially 2001 and Dr. Strangelove), biking, cross-country running, reading, collecting (bikes, watches, rings…), animals(often had pets that were as big as he was, like huskies), music…
Robin’s peculiar and many interests, Laurence Grobel, Robin Williams Answers 83 Questions, 2002
He wasn’t a man child, either. Many journalists used “finally he becomes a man” kind of tone in their articles throughout decades of time. It’s an act, never the reality. Like…he was never really Mork. He could play Mork any time, but he wasn’t Mork in real life.
8. #1 He was kicked out of Juilliard because he was considered as an ’embarrassment to the school’ as told by John Houseman, #2 He gave the most impressive audition ever in the history of Juilliard.
According to Robin, Juilliard was just starting classes for actors(it’s only been 5 years when Robin joined in 1973), and what they tried to do was raising American stage actors like British or French actors, by making them study Classical acting. There were great teachers Robin was impressed by, such as Anna Sokolow, Liz Smith, and Margot Harley. They gave intense classes. Some of the teachers didn’t like Robin; although he worked hard, as he was a great student in his school days, he was often criticized by them because he was imitating people at some point.
Here are some pictures of Robin as a student at Juilliard:
He was a master’s student(which I understand as course for master’s degree) in advanced studies in acting, and he was only two of those who were selected for a full scholarship for the course and the other one was Chris Reeve.
He dropped out of Juilliard.
What Robin did for his Juilliard audition
(continued) The difference between California and NY
Robin being criticized by Juilliard teacher
(continued) His encounters with John Houseman
(does not continue with the last clipping) Robin’s third year at Juilliard
(continued) Robin dropping out of Juilliard
(continued) Robin’s new start in San Francisco after dropping out of Juilliard
all clippings from 1982 interview.
9. Robin’s title of “honorary Jew.”
Robin explaining the title “honorary Jew,” 1982.
10. Robin had dyslexia and ADHD.
There is no statement Robin made that he was diagnosed with either dyslexia or ADHD, or ADD.
Why this rumor started? a) he constantly talks in talk shows and it’s mostly his comedy material, not about the interview itself, b) he often said he became less active when he took drugs like cocaine, and used it in order to get away from reality(meeting too many people tired him out, I guess, especially in 1978, when kids and teenagers tried to rip his clothes off). Many people with the experience of taking drugs thought he had ADHD, because most drug users became more active, in the opposite way, and people with ADHD or ADD often became less active when they took drugs.
In his unauthorized biographies(like the word itself, whatever the writer thought of is in the book and none of them are confirmed by Robin) he is described as a poor kid with a strict father who used to go through bullying due to either ADHD and dyslexia or being fat. There is no statement, either, that Robin was bullied during his childhood, but he did say he was chubby during his early childhood. His childhood friends or neighbors in Chicago recalled him as either ‘nerdy kid’ or ‘a kid whom my parents wanted me to resemble a little(personality-wise).’ But that’s all I know. He barely talked seriously about his life – especially he didn’t talk much about his childhood.
This is from The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson in April 1st, 2010.
Watch 10:08. He jokes about ADD for a second and he says strongly, “no,” as if it were an absurd thing to think of.
What cocaine did for Robin, I think, was making his alertness dull. His comedy comes from not deficiency of attention, but his quick wit and alertness. No matter how fast he was talking, he understood every single word he said, even when he was improvising. He knew which face to make, what kind of voice to turn on, and whether he pronounced it correctly.
watch 59:55. “‘Frogs’ backs,’ thank you for watching me this far.”
However, without a doubt, Robin having dyslexia is absolutely absurd.
I have found the origin source, and surprisingly it was from Robin’s rather serious-sounding joke in his first appearance for Johnny Carson talk show.
watch 0:35, he says “I suffer from severe dyslexia, too” which is a part of the “Trick or Trout!” joke he did in An Evening with Robin Williams, his 1982 standup comedy show.
watch 33:16, after flubbing his line he says, “Dyslexia is a horrible disease. I was the only child on Halloween to go, ‘Hi, Treat or Trout!’ So sad, it’s all the other mothers going, ‘It’s Williams’ boy, better give him some fish.'”
The same joke he did in Johnny Carson wasn’t a serious remark. To me, considering he paraphrased the joke, his other version in Carson sounded like self-deprecation; he used the word ‘dyslexia’ to make it sound extreme, and he laughed at himself – his child self, to be exact. Somehow someone wrote under his Wikipedia page that his comedic style is self-deprecating. So far, I think it’s right, and that was one of the reasons why I considered Robin as decent and unpretentious.
When you read his biography you can figure out more clearly that he did not have dyslexia. He read a lot, and he studied hard in high school to graduate as summa cum laude, and I don’t think he was another miracle case of an ADHD with dyslexia student being academically successful. It doesn’t make sense.
His high school years in Detroit Country Day School.
(does not continue with the previous clipping) His short time at Claremont Men’s College, now called Claremont McKenna College, one of the most prestigious colleges in the United States.
(continued) His tackle at Marin Junior College, now named College of Marin.
Robin’s Wikipedia page doesn’t show whether he was dyslexia or ADHD. So even Wiki went, “Dude!” (yes, I used one of Robin’s favorite jokes here)
He didn’t write or help anyone write his biography. He knew what was more important in his life, which were family, friends, his craft, and the world issues like homelessness. I don’t think he felt the need to correct people, because they always ultimately concluded everything in the way they wanted to, and he must have felt exhausted about it. He didn’t feel the need to make his own history straight, or to make his celebrity status better. He cared about other things that really mattered and he did.
People who are interested in religion, depression, ADHD, child abuse, celebrity divorces…they make up stories and always end up concluding in the way they want to. Documentary films, unauthorized biographies, magazines, books, articles…do you still want to read or see them?
The more I study Robin’s performances and his comedy, and the more I get to know more about him, the more I realize he was an amazing and incredible human being. Unlike his heroes – Dudley Moore and Peter Sellers – he took good care of his private life, protected his family’s privacy, befriended amazing people who helped each other, constantly challenged himself by daily comedy stand up shows for everyone around him(“pushing the envelope,” in his words), gradually put himself professionally in a place where he wanted to be(started out doing stand up and ended up doing serious movies and art films as well. To do this, Robin went through trial and errors. He did a stage play, stand ups, comedy movies and several drama films like Oscar-nominated The World According to Garp, Moscow on the Hudson and Seize the Day, which is an indie film that entered Sundance in 1986 or 1987. One actor of the next generation who followed a similar career path is Steve Carell), and until the end of his life, his curiosity never worn out and he tried to give everything back to the world as much as possible. To me, Robin was a brave, sincere, and genuine soul. I have so much to learn from him.