Distinguished actor, outstanding comedian, and humanitarian Robin Williams passed away in his northern California home this Monday, August 11th of an apparent suicide, and the world is a duller place with his passing. His career spanned an incredible forty years and yielded one hundred and two IMDb acting credits, along with countless awards and accolades, including numerous Golden Globe awards and nominations, Emmys and Emmy nominations, and an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in Good Will Hunting. It’s hard to imagine the career of such a unique and monumentally talented performer is over, but indeed it is. He was one of the few celebrities who could perform comedy and drama with equal aplomb, and he would often accomplish such a feat in the same movie or TV show. Robin began his training at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York where he studied drama; at the same time he developed his comedic chops in obscure nightclubs clubs as well as on the streets of the famed city. Robin was a fearless and constant performer who welcomed the challenges of Hollywood movies, episodic television, the stage, musicals, in addition to comedy shows and albums.

The last few days we’ve heard a lot about Robin’s most famous and inspiring roles. Good Will Hunting, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Morning Vietnam, and Dead Poets Society are all referenced consistently in the worldwide press. And rightly so; those incredible movies and unforgettable characters will forever live in the hearts and minds of so many among us. And they lend tremendous insight into the human condition and the complexity of the human experience. But Robin McLaurin Williams contributed a great many roles to the pantheon of movie history that are not as well known and not as abundantly celebrated, but many fans have expressed an affinity and abiding love for these films. So, if we may, let’s take a look at some of these diamonds in the rough and give them their just due:

The Survivors: Robin Williams and Walter Matthau make a great comedy duo in this slapstick farce about two losers battling a sociopathic killer. Robin plays a hapless Donald Quinelle who gets fired by a parrot, and conducts himself with fiery abandon and classic Robin Williams enthusiasm. And his young, wild, and most-out-of-control shenanigans are the perfect foil for the ever-endearing curmudgeon Matthau. With a ton of hilarious lines, you’ll be quoting this one until you spill your goiter. Favorite line: “Ok, Mr. Honky Mo-Fo…Take your best shot!”

Bicentennial Man: In this forgotten family classic Robin plays a robot engineered to work as a maidservant and nanny, but he longs for the experience of genuine emotions, and struggles to become human after tasting the nectar of family love. Pathos and humor rarely share the same arena so consummately as in this sci-fi comedy adventure. And who could play a freakin’ robot with the kind of buffoonery, emotion, and affection that Robin Williams brings to the affable NDR-114? No one; that’s who.

Aladdin: There is perhaps no other film that captured the hyperkinetic comedy genius and improvisational skill of Robin Williams as Disney’s 1992 animated comedy adventure, Aladdin. Robin contributed the voice of the wisecracking Genie who’s been imprisoned in a bottle for ten thousand years. Can you imagine unleashing Williams’ tongue on the world after being capped in a bottle for ten thousand years? It is rumored that Robin improvised so much of the script, the Disney animators had sixteen hours of material to work with! Try cutting that down!


The World According to Garp: In just his second movie role Robin played the budding writer, TS Garp in the adaptation of John Irving’s celebrated novel of the same name. Williams performed the role of a young yet world-weary father with such strength and sensitivity and, at the same time, with tremendously irreverent humor that you could almost imagine the word bittersweet was invented for his performance. This is one zany film with one zany guy at its center! The caption on the poster reads, “Garp…he’s got a funny way of looking at life.” The same could surely be said about the film’s star.

World’s Greatest Dad: Be careful on this one! WGD is one sick movie; a black comedy with the emphasis on black. Robin plays Lance Clayton, a guileless father and would-be writer who is utterly hated by his nihilistic son. When his son dies in a tragic accident, Lance goes on a journey of self-discovery that could only be described as “hopelessly ludicrous.” World’s Greatest Dad proves that Robin Williams was a true artist who wasn’t afraid to take risks and to break new ground in his career. His agents and managers were most likely counseling him to pass on this controversial project, but we’re glad he followed his creative heart.

What are your favorite movies, memories, and moments involving the great Robin Williams? Please share!