"Williams is the ‘Tasmanian devil of comedy.’” Entertainment Weekly
Manic comedian and actor Robin Williams received Best Actor Academy Awards nominations for starring in Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989) and The Fisher King (1991), before eventually taking home a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his role in Good Will Hunting (1997). First launched to fame for playing space alien Mork in the ABC series “Mork and Mindy” (1978-1982), Robin Williams continued to gather recognition with his films, which include Awakenings (1990), Hook (1991), Aladdin (1991, voice of Genie), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), The Birdcage (1996), Bicentennial Man (1999), Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001, voice of Dr. Know) and The Final Cut (2004). His upcoming films include The Night Listener, R.V., Happy Feet, August Rush, Man of the Year, and The Krazees. He is also in negotiations about reprising his Mrs. Doubtfire role in its second sequel, Mrs. Doubtfire 2.
The frenzied prankster, who has released several Grammy-winning spoken albums, was voted “Funniest Man Alive” by Entertainment Weekly in 1997. He was also one of Star TV's “Top 10 Box Office Stars of the 1990s” (2003), Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" (October 1997), Entertainment Weekly's “25 Best Actors” (1998) and Entertainment Weekly’s “The 50th Greatest Movie Stars of All Time.” Privately, the 5' 8" tall, of Welsh and Scottish heritage, comedian/actor has married twice. He was once married to former dancer Valerie Velardi (divorced) and is currently married to his former personal assistant Marsha Garces. A father of three, Williams once dated Michelle Tish Carter (1984-1986).
Least Likely to Succeed
Childhood and Family:
"If you can remember the sixties, you weren't there." Robin Williams.
On July 21, 1952, Robin McLaurin Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois. He is the only child of Robert Fitzgerald Williams (born 1901; died 1987), a former senior executive at Ford in charge of the Midwest area, and Laurie Williams (born September 1922, in New Orleans), a former model. Due to his father’s duties, Robin and his family frequently moved until they settled in Marin County, California, around 1967.
Young Robin attended Redwood High School in Larkspur, California, just north of San Francisco, where he was voted "Least Likely to Succeed" by his fellow graduates. After graduation, he studied political science at the Claremont Men's College, in Claremont, California, and became active in the soccer team and improvisational comedy. He also began studying acting at the College of Marin, in Kentfield, California, and at The Juilliard School, New York (majored in Drama) under John Houseman. He studied there for three years on a full scholarship, along with actor Christopher Reeve, with whom Robin remained good friends until Christopher Reeve's death in 2004.
"Ah, yes, divorce, from the Latin word meaning to rip out a man's genitals through his wallet." Robin Williams
On June 4, 1978, Robin Williams married former dancer Valerie Velardi, and welcomed son Zachary in 1983. However, Williams and Velardi separated in 1987 and divorced the following year. Robin then began a relationship with his personal assistant, Marsha Garces Williams (born in 1957; also a producer, a former nanny). The two tied the knot on April 30, 1989, and have two children together: daughter Zelda (born on July 31, 1989) and son Cody Alan (born on November 25, 1991). Williams and his family now reside in San Francisco's Seacliff neighborhood.
Good Will Hunting
"You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." Robin Williams.
After three years living in New York City, while studying at Juilliard, Robin Williams returned to California and auditioned at the Improv. At a performance in a nightclub, he was noticed and asked to play a regular spot on George Schlatter's TV series, a revival of “Laugh-In” (NBC, 1977-1978). While working in the series, Williams made a feature film debut as himself in Robert Levy's "naughty" comedy Can I Do It 'Till I Need Glasses (1977), in which he appeared as a cameo at the end of the film. In February of 1978, Williams guest starred as hyper, fast-talking space alien Mork from Ork, on an episode of the ABC popular sitcom "Happy Days." His performance impressed producer Garry Marshall, who later brought Williams to do the spin-off series, "Mork and Mindy." In the hit show, which aired on ABC from 1978 to 1982, Williams starred with Pam Dawber.
Williams released the Grammy-winning album "Reality...What a Concept" on Casablanca Record and Film Works in 1979. On the wide screen, he won his first starring role in Robert Altman’s disappointing adaptation of E.C. Segar's comic strip, Popeye (1980, starring Shelley Duvall as Olive). A box-office success arrived with George Roy Hill's intermittently faithful adaptation of John Irving's best-selling novel, The World According to Garp. In his breakthrough film, Williams played the title role of serious writer T. S. Garp, the fatherless son of a well-known eccentric feminist activist (played by Glenn Close). That same year, Williams headlined the HBO special An Evening with Robin Williams, which featured his act in San Francisco's Great American Music Hall. He also played unmemorable roles in films like The Survivors (1983), Moscow on the Hudson (1984), The Best of Times (1986) and Club Paradise (1986).
"If you watch it backwards, it has a plot." Robin Williams (on the movie Popeye (1980)
In 1986, Williams, along with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal, began hosting the annual Comic Relief (telecasts on HBO), a fundraiser to help the homeless. After writing and starring in HBO’s Robin Williams: Live at the Met, Williams made a distinguished, dramatic appearance in PBS' Great Performances presentation, Seize the Day (1986). The film version was helmed by Fielder Cook and based on a work by acclaimed author Saul Bellow. In 1987, he was featured on CBS’ A Carol Burnett Special ... Carol, Carl, Whoopi & Robin.
His first Best Actor Academy Award nomination came in 1987, thanks to the portrayal of unorthodox and irreverent American radio DJ, A2C Adrian Cronauer, in Barry Levinson's Good Morning, Vietnam. After performing on stage, opposite Steve Martin, in Mike Nichols' production of "Waiting for Godot" at the Lincoln Center in 1988, Williams garnered his second Best Actor Academy Award nomination. He was nominated for brightly portraying John Keating, a newly appointed English professor at an exclusive boys’ preparatory school in 1959 who applies unconventional methods to inspire his students in classic poetry, in Peter Weir's drama Dead Poets Society (1989). By the end of the decade, Williams had also hosted the “Saturday Night Live” show four times: in 1981, 1984, 1986 and 1988.
Director Penny Marshall paired Williams with Robert De Niro, playing passionate and somewhat unorthodox doctor Malcolm Sayer, who struggles to cure DeNiro's character, in the screen adaptation of Oliver Sacks's book, the true-story based Awakenings (1990). After being featured in actor-director Kenneth Branagh's contemporary thriller Dead Again (1991, also starring Andy Garcia and Emma Thompson), Williams netted a third Best Actor Academy Award nomination. He was highly praised for portraying Parry, a crazy street person who embarks on a quest of redemption, in Terry Gilliam's fantasy comedy The Fisher King (1991, alongside Jeff Bridges). Also in that year, Williams portrayed a grown-up Peter Pan in Steven Spielberg's Hook (with Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts and Bob Hoskins), in an updated version of the original stage play and books of James M. Barrie. Afterward, he appeared in Shakes the Clown and provided his voice to the films FernGully: The Last Rainforest, and From Time to Time.
Williams lent his voice to the Genie in Disney's animated tale of love and fantasy, Aladdin (1992), which he later reprised the role in the second direct-to-video sequel, Aladdin and the Prince of Thieves (1996). He then became the son of a famous toy manufacturer in Barry Levinson's fantasy comedy Toys (1992, opposite Michael Gambon) and subsequently shot a major box-office hit with Chris Columbus' family comedy film, inspired by Anne Fine's novel, Mrs. Doubtfire (1993, costarring Sally Field and Pierce Brosnan). In the film, first co-produced with wife Marsha Garces Williams under their production banner Blue Wolf Productions, Williams starred in the title role of a father who dresses up as a nanny. On the small screen, Williams delivered a dramatic guest appearance in the second season premiere of the NBC series "Homicide: Life on the Streets," in January of 1994.
The mid 1990s saw Williams playing a Russian-speaking obstetrician in Chris Columbus' Nine Months (starring Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore) and having an unaccredited appearance as a used car salesman in Beeban Kidron's comedy To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (starring Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo. That same year, Williams scored another box-office smash with Joe Johnston's adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg's book, Jumanji (1995), starring as a man trapped for decades in an old magic board game. The subsequent year, Williams costarred with Nathan Lane in Mike Nichols' remake of the French farce "La Cage aux folles," The Birdcage, where he played Armand Goldman, the owner of a popular drag nightclub in South Miami Beach. Williams then played Jack, who suffers from a genetic disorder, in Francis Ford Coppola's drama comedy movie with the same name. He also played his first Shakespearean role in actor-director Kenneth Branagh's full-length film version of Hamlet.
In the rest of the 1990s, Williams teamed with Billy Crystal in Ivan Reitman's weak remake of Francis Veber's French film Les Compères, the comedy Father's Day, playing a depressed goofball and a would-be writer, and starred in Les Mayfield's 1997 remake of Fred MacMurray 1961 vehicle Flubber, starring as the absent-minded professor. After receiving three Academy Awards nominations, Williams eventually took home the award for Best Supporting Actor, for his divergent turn as Sean Maguire, a repressed therapist trying to help a troubled math genius (Matt Damon), in Gus Van Sant's psychological drama Good Will Hunting (1997).
“Most of all, I want to thank my father, up there, the man who when I said I wanted to be an actor, he said, 'Wonderful, just have a back-up profession like welding.’” Robin Williams (in his Academy Award’s acceptance speech)
The subsequent years watched Williams starring in the drama comedy Patch Adams (1998, as the title role of a medical student in the 70's that treated patients using humor), and reunite with Chris Columbus in his adaptation of Isaac Asimov's short story and novel, the sci-fi drama Bicentennial Man (1999, as the robot that wants to become human). He voiced Dr. Know in Steven Spielberg's Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001) and starred in writer-director Mark Romanek's Sundance-screened drama thriller One Hour Photo (2002, as a lonely photo technician). He was then cast to play a lead role in actor-director Danny DeVito's dark comedy Death to Smoochy (as a star of the highest rated kid's show on TV, opposite Edward Norton), and had a featured role as the reclusive novelist Walter Finch in Christopher Nolan's remake of Nikolaj Frobenius and Erik Skjoldbjærg's 1997 screenplay, the psychological thriller Insomnia (starring Al Pacino, both in 2002). He also returned to stand-up comedy, after a 20-year break, with "Robin Williams: Live on Broadway," a live, uncensored comedy special aired on HBO. It later earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.
More recently, Williams starred in writer-director Omar Naim's sci-fi thriller The Final Cut (with James Caviezel and Mira Sorvino) and was cast in David Duchovny's directorial debut House of D (both in 2004). He also provided his voice to the character Fender, a robot whose body parts fall off at badly timed moments, in the animated feature Robots, and teamed with Holly Hunter and Giovanni Ribisi in the dark comedy The Big White (both in 2005). He will soon be seen in his upcoming films: The Night Listener, R.V., Happy Feet, Man of the Year, and August Rush. Williams is also set to star in the forthcoming big screen projects: Mrs. Doubtfire 2 and The Krazees.
“It's been a sequence. With Good Morning, Vietnam, people said, 'Ah, at last he's found a way to be funny and still be a little restrained.' With Dead Poet's Society, they went, 'Oh, this is interesting; he's even more restrained.' And with Awakenings, it'll be, 'Look! He's medicated! He's gone even further. What's he playing next? He's playing a door. And after that? A black hole.’” Robin Williams
- Cecil B. DeMille Award, 2005
- Saturn Award: Best Actor, One Hour Photo, 2003
- Grammy: Best Spoken Comedy Album, Robin Williams- Live 2002, 2002
- U.S. Comedy Arts Festival: AFI Star Award, 2000
- AFI Star Award, 2000
- Blockbuster Entertainment: Favorite Actor/Actress - Family, Flubber, 1998
- The Actor: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, Good Will Hunting; presented by the Screen Actors Guild, 1997
- Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor, Good Will Hunting, 1997
- The Actor: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Theatrical Motion Picture, The Birdcage; shared award; presented by the Screen Actors Guild, 1996
- American Comedy: Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role), Mrs. Doubtfire, 1994
- Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical, Mrs. Doubtfire, 1994
- MTV Movie: Best Comedic Performance, Mrs. Doubtfire, 1994
- People's Choice: Favorite Comedy Movie Actor, 1994
- NATO/ShoWest: Male Star of the Year Award, 1994
- CableACE: Best Entertainment Host, Shakespeare: The Animated Tales (broadcast on HBO), 1993
- MTV Movie: Best Comedic Performance, Aladdin, 1993
- Saturn Award: Best Supporting Performance, Aladdin, 1993
- National Board of Review: Special Award, Aladdin; honored for voice work as The Genie in Disney's animated feature, 1992
- Golden Globe: Special Achievement Award, Aladdin; honored for voice work in Aladdin, 1992
- CableACE: Best Entertainment Host, Comic Relief V; shared with Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg, 1992
- Golden Globe: Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), The Fisher King, 1991
- National Board of Review: Best Actor, Awakenings; tied with costar Robert DeNiro, 1990
- CableACE: Best Performance in a Comedy Special, Comic Relief '87, 1989
- Grammy: Best Recording for Children, Pecos Bill; award shared with Ry Cooder, 1989
- Grammy: Best Comedy Recording, Good Morning, Vietnam, 1989
- American Comedy Award: Funniest Stand-Up (Male), 1989
- Grammy: Best Comedy Recording, Robin Williams: A Night at the Met, 1988
- American Comedy: Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture, Good Morning, Vietnam, 1988
- Emmy: Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program, ABC Presents a Royal Gala, 1987/1988
- Golden Globe: Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), Good Morning, Vietnam, 1987
- Emmy: Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program, Carol Burnett Special...Carol, Carl, Whoopi & Robin, 1986/1987
- Grammy: Best Comedy Recording, Reality, What a Concept, 1979
- People's Choice: Favorite Male in a New TV Program, 1979
- Golden Globe: Best Actor in a Television Series (Comedy or Musical), Mork and Mindy, 1978