My topic for today may not be so different from other bloggers around the world but perhaps my perspective will be. The sky is full of stars and even though there are so many it is sad to see one go out, particularly a bright one you have watched for years. I speak of actor Robin Williams who died yesterday by hanging. It is not my intent to discuss the manner of his demise or the possible causes behind it. I think I’d rather discuss how he touched the lives of my family and perhaps yours as well. When I came home from work yesterday it was like the first line in one of my favorite Beatles’ songs, “I read the news today…Oh boy…” It took time to realize the magnitude of the affect he had made on my life. Most actors have one role for which they are known and remembered and that is an achievement in itself. Robin Williams was so many different people in so many different movies that I have yet to see them all. I was first introduced to him on television in the show Mork & Mindy about an alien coming to Earth in a space ship shaped like an egg. The show was a smash. Even my oldest brother in college wore the rainbow-striped suspenders he sported on the show. In the 1980s he put a different face on the Vietnam War. It was not a better or worse face, just different. Not only was he hilarious to the point that a friend of mine made a tape of just his parts on the radio that he would play when we went out somewhere,; he also introduced me a an entire generation to one of the greatest songs ever made, “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. It is a short but hauntingly beautiful piece Williams works to perfection against the backdrop of war. I passed my love of the song onto my children and they will sing it with me…all because of Robin Williams. The Disney movie “Aladdin” came out when my son was very young and we wore out 3 vhs copies of that tape. If you have seen that movie and then saw the second one without Robin Williams playing the genie it is obvious he made the film. I don’t know how much of the script was written and how much he improvised but Williams was the undisputed master of improvised comedy. He made it as enjoyable the 500th time as the first time. It still ranks with Lion King as Disney’s best ever. “Awakenings” was touching and he was magnificent in “Good Will Hunting”. I once was given a VHS copy of “Patch Adams” that I gave away years later at a white elephant Christmas exchange. I wish I had watched it. “The world According to Garp” has always been on my list to watch but never made it to the top. Then came “Happy Feet”. My mother was sick with cancer for several years but the rarity of seeing her and my own inexplicable blindness to it made me not notice. That was the last movie she took my youngest daughter to see. She was four years old. After that, if grandma called my daughter would get on the phone and shuffle her feet. She would say, “Do you know what I’m doing Grandma? I’m dancing because I’m happy to talk to you.” We bought the DVD as soon as it came out and every time the main character would dance, she would get up and dance too. She said it was because her feet were happy. Robin Williams didn’t play that role but he played two of my favorites in the movie as the wisecracking Ramone and the guru Lovelace. He made the movie. I watched it as much for me as for my daughter. People tell me “Frozen” is so much better than “Happy Feet”. Let me humbly say you are entitled to your opinion. I have only talked about a hand full of movies he was in out of the dozens but Robin Williams was a positive influence on the lives of my family and me. I can only hope he touched others in such a way. He will be missed. Stars may disappear but they will exist as long as someone remembers they were there all those years.
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