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Actor and comedian Robin Williams is known for his fast-paced, improvisational performance style, and for his performances in films like Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society.

Synopsis

Famed actor and comedian Robin Williams was born on July 21, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois. After developing his improvisational style as a stand-up comedian, Williams made his television debut on Mork and Mindy, and moved into film with Robert Altman's Popeye. He played numerous memorable film roles, both comedic and dramatic, and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Good Will Hunting. On August 11, 2014, the actor was found dead in his home at the age of 63.

Commercial Breakthrough

Actor and comedian Robin McLaurin Williams was born on July 21, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois. One of America's funniest performers, Williams attended one of the most prestigious drama schools in the country, the Juilliard School in New York City. While at Juilliard, he made friends with Christopher Reeve. He later experimented with comedy in San Francisco and Los Angeles, developing a successful stand-up act.

Robin Williams first became known to American audiences as the zany alien Mork on the television comedy series Mork and Mindy (1978-82). He made his big-screen debut playing the famous spinach-eating sailor, Popeye(1981). The movie led to a string of successful film roles for Williams, including Good Morning Vietnam (1987) and Dead Poets Society (1989), both of which earned the actor Academy Award nods.

Personal Challenges

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 briefly involved with another woman. Williams and Velardi divorced soon after, in 1988. The following year, he married his son's nanny, Marsha Garces, who was pregnant with their first child together at the time.

Despite personal setbacks, Williams continued acting. He appeared in the hit drama Awakenings (1990) with Robert De Niro. Tackling family friendly fare, he provided the voice of the genie in Disney's animated film, Aladdin (1991), and starred as grown-up Peter Pan in Hook (1991). Williams also starred in  Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumangi (1995) and Flubber (1997). His more adult-oriented films also did well, including The Birdcage (1996) and Good Will Hunting. His performance as the psychiatrist in Good Will Hunting won him an Academy Award as best supporting actor.For the next few years, Williams took a range of comedic and dramatic projects. He starred as the doctor who treated his patients with humor inPatch Adams (1998) and then portrayed a Jewish man in Germany during World War II drama in Jakob the Liar (1999). Based on a work by Isaac Asimov,Bicentennial Man (1991) gave Williams the opportunity to play an android who develops human emotions. He returned to voice acting as the voice of Dr. Know in Artificial Intelligence: AI in 2001.

More Dramatic Roles

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While best known for his comedic efforts, Robin Williams began exploring some darker characters on screen. He played a creepy photo developer inOne Hour Photo (2002); the murder suspect in Insomnia (2002); and a writer and radio host who gets caught up in the mystery surrounding a troubled fan in The Night Listener (2006). Williams returned to his comedic talents shortly after with Man of the Year (2006), a send-up of U.S. presidential politics. That same year, he portrayed Teddy Roosevelt in the popular family film Night at the Museum

In the summer of 2006, Williams suffered a drug relapse. He admitted himself to a rehabilitation facility for alcoholism treatment that August. The actor quickly rebounded and, in 2007, he starred in the zany comedy License to Wed with Mandy Moore and John Krasinski.

Recent Career and Personal Developments

In 2008, Robin Williams began touring for his one-man stand-up comedy show, Weapons of Self-Destruction. The show focuses on "social and political absurdities." That same year, he and Garces divorced, citing irreconcilable differences.

Williams took the personal setback in stride, instead pouring his energy into his sold-out tour. But health problems would derail the comedian in March of 2009. Several months into his fast-paced tour, Williams began experiencing shortness of breath. The complications led him to cancel a handful of performances. He ended up undergoing heart surgery.

However, Williams made a quick recovery, and that same year, the actor played Teddy Roosevelt in the adventure comedy Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, co-starring with Ben Stiller, and starred alongside John Travolta in the Disney film Old Dogs.

Since then, Williams has continued to work on a number of different projects. He made guest appearances on such TV shows as Louie and Wilfred. On the big screen, he lent his voice to the 2011 animated film Happy Feet Two. He also married for third time that same year. He and graphic designer Susan Schneider tied the knot that October. 

Williams had a supporting role in the 2013 romantic comedy The Big Wedding with Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton. Later in 2013, Williams announced his return to series TV. He co-starred with Sarah Michelle Gellar on the sitcom The Crazy Ones, which debuted in the fall of 2013. Set in an advertising firm, the show featured Williams and Gellar as father and daughter. The series was canceled after only one season. In 2014, Williams starred as Henry Altmann in the Angriest Man in Brooklyn..

Fatherhood

Williams has three children: Zachary Pym (his son with Velardi), Zelda Rae and Cody Alan (his two children with Marsha Garces).

Death & Legacy

On August 11, 2014, the 63-year-old comedian was found dead in his California home. Although the cause of his death was not confirmed, the coroner suspects it was a suicide caused by asphyxiation. 

His publicist released this statement: “Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

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ROBIN WILLIAMS 1951-2014 RIP