Robin Williams, Deafness, and Remembering a Legend
written by: magicwriter
Robin Williams was one of the most beloved actors of all time, not only for his exceptional acting skills but also for his many humanitarian efforts and his openness in discussing his own personal foibles. A legend of Hollywood, audiences connected with William’s sincere heart felt compassion in sentimental movies like, “Dead Poet’s Society,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Good Will Hunting,” and “Patch Adams.” He played these beloved roles to such perfection that the characters feel like real people to many who never tire of seeing his most famous movies when they run on television almost every holiday season. Many of his movies were instant classics.
While Williams may have been from another planet in his unforgettable role as Mork, he was known as being more down to Earth than most Hollywood stars, easily relating to almost any type of person. As an actor, Robin Williams was particularly known for his superb improvisation skills and his comedic prowess. He had a zest for life that came through in his acting. It seemed to come from the core of his being rather than what he learned at the Juilliard School Of Drama. He had a special way of making audiences laugh and cry at the same time. It was as if Williams made people look inside their own soul and discover what made them feel most alive. With a twinkle in his eye and a little curl in the corner of his mouth, Williams could deliver a hilarious punchline and then seconds later have your eyes filling up with crocodile tears.
Robin William’s charismatic personality on television interviews, such as the “Larry King Live” show”and “Good Morning America,” won him legions of fans across multiple generations, young and old alike. He was very open about his cardiovascular disease and his open heart surgery describing his near death experience in great detail. He was just as open about his ongoing alcohol and cocaine addiction issues. For many, he seemed more “human” than most actors. For many, it felt like Williams could be their brother or uncle. He was far from perfect but still they loved him immensely. In being so candid about his struggles, he raised awareness for these issues. In a sense, he made it easier for families and friends to talk about these issues without feeling like they had to cower in secrecy. When Williams talked about a disability on national TV, there was a collective conversation about it at the water cooler the next day.
As memorable as many of his big screen films will always remain, it is perhaps his charitable work that will leave the most lasting legacy. Known in fundraising circles as one of the most generous people in Hollywood, he was often described as a sweet and gentle soul with a big heart. He could also always be counted on to spur others on to give generously. He took up many causes across his lifetime including civil rights, eliminating human trafficking, stopping bullying, hunger relief, finding a cure for various diseases, providing aids for the deaf, helping abused and neglected animals, military veterans’ rights, helping those with physical disabilities, finding solutions for homelessness, and saving the rain forests.
Williams gave many millions of dollars in donations to dozens of charities including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, International Medical Corps, UNICEF, the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education, and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation for which he was intimately involved. Williams also gave very freely of his own personal time to do charity work. For example, he often surprised children at the St. Jude Hospital by visiting them individually and cheering them up with his unique brand of humor, a real life “Patch Adams.” He had a particular passion of those who suffered with deafness. Williams also organized dozens of comedy telethons called “Comic Relief” to raise money for the homeless and for those who suffer in poverty. As was often his style, he shared the spotlight with his friends Whoopie Goldberg and Billy Crystal. He also gave generously of his time to raise money for the victims of 9-1-1 and other disasters.
Robin Williams was a true and loyal friend to those who served in the armed forces. He brought comic relief to the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq through shows in the ISO, always being sure to sincerely thank them during the show for their service to our country. The ISO is a non-profit organization that brings live entertainment to raise morale to military personnel who serve overseas and Williams was one of their most frequent participants. Williams was also a staunch advocate for veterans, especially for those who suffer from the “invisible” wounds of war such as post traumatic stress syndrome.
It is with great sadness that the world learned of William’s apparent suicide on August 11, 2014. While the news came as a shock amplified many times over as the word spread, those closest to him knew that he had been suffering with a long bout of deep clinical depression. As a person who cheered up so many people in despair, it is tragic that he should succumb to such an illness and that his family and the entire world should suffer such a devastating loss because of it.
According to the United States Centers For Disease and Prevention (CDC), one in ten Americans suffer from debilitating depression with about 6.7 percentage of the American population suffering from severe depression, i.e. the type that can give rise to suicide. In honor of Robin Williams’ exceptionally generous spirit of giving, let us hope that his death will inspire Americans to give liberally to depression research and to effective programs aimed at the prevention of suicide.
People like Robin Williams never really die. Their infectious spirit and astounding good will lives among us in all we do each and every day. Robin Williams inspired us to be better people and to live our lives to the fullest many times over and we will honor him by doing so. Carpe diem!
Seize the day Robin Williams’ fans and rest in peace Peter Pan!