Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Robin Williams - Remembering a Genius

Today marks the one year anniversary of the untimely death of actor and comedian Robin Williams.  

Once an entertainer passes, I don't typically give his/her death much thought other than an occasional, "Man, what a shame." when I encounter a piece of the entertainer's work after the fact (movie, song, etc.). However, I have thought a lot about Robin Williams over the past year.  My thoughts have not been so much on the tragic nature of his passing or of the legacy of works he left behind.  Instead, I have found myself thinking of and possibly mourning, too, the unrealized, potential works that were still inside Robin, performances that the world will never know.

In honor and in memoriam of the late Robin Williams, here are my 10 personal favorite performances of the talented actor and comedic genius that left the world all too soon.

Dr. Malcolm Sayer, Awakenings (1990)
Even thought Robert DeNiro truly stole the show with his portrayal of a catatonic man who survived an outbreak of encephalitis lethargica early in the twentieth century, I truly enjoyed Robin’s supporting character role as the doctor who discovered the benefits of the drug L-Dopa.

John Keating, Dead Poet's Society (1989)
This is a movie that I somehow missed seeing in the 20th century.  I was well into my 30s before I watched it.  I can easily see how this movie became somewhat a cult classic for my generation.  I consider this movie to be the first in which he fully demonstrated the versatility of his acting skills.

Mork, Mork & Mindy (1978-82)
My first exposure to Robin Williams was his guest appearance as the alien Mork on the show Happy Days.  Mork's appearance was so popular with viewers that a spin-off show was created.  Although I didn't watch Mork & Mindy as regularly as I did Happy Days, I did watch it some as a kid.  I loved hearing him say, "Nanu, Nanu!"

Ramon and Lovelace, Happy Feet (2006)
Robin Williams supplied the voices for not only one, but two of the penguins in the popular computer animation.

Teddy Roosevelt, Night at the Museum (2006)
Prior to seeing this film, I never would have considered Robin Williams for the role of Teddy Roosevelt.  But, he nailed.  In fact, he owned it.  Now, it's quite difficult for me to think of Teddy Roosevelt and not see Robin's  version of him.

Shawn Maguire, Good Will Hunting (1997)
This was the movie that solidified Robin's dramatic acting abilities in my mind (it also earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor).  He portrayed a therapist who helps a brilliant, but deeply troubled young man overcome the obstacles of his past.  This was the movie that in my opinion, best illustrated the depth of Robin's talent.

Armand Goldman, The Bird Cage (1996)
When two talented, comedic forces join up in the same movie, I can easily see where it might be hard for those personalities not to clash.  In The Bird Cage, Robin Williams and Nathan Lane play a gay couple in South Beach, FL.  I think both their performances were awesome and that their acting styles complimented each other.

Genie, Aladdin (1992)
I once read that Robin Williams ad-libbed much of the lines of Aladdin's sidekick, Genie. How hilarious it (still) is to hear Robin letting loose and keeping it G rated!

Adrian Cronauer, Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
It's pretty much impossible for me to say the title of this movie without hearing the way Robin Williams shouted it in the film in my head.  This movie remains one of my favorites to this day.

Daniel Hillard/Euphegenia Doubtfire, Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
And last, but certainly not least, my personal Robin Williams favorite, Mrs. Doubtfire.  I am glad that the appeal of this movie has not faded in the 22 years since its release.  I always enjoy hearing my students recite lines from this movie (apparently it continues to air on family-oriented TV stations).  This is just a small example of how Robin's legacy lives on and how he will continue to be remembered.

Do you have a favorite Robin Williams movie?  If so, please feel free to share. Thanks for stopping by.

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