Actor, comedian, father, husband, inspiration, genius. These are just some words to describe the late Robin Williams. Most well known for his acting and comedy, there was a bigger role he played offscreen and offstage—an activist. We’ve all at some point heard the interviews he gave, watched the characters he played and felt joy in watching and hearing him perform. We can all place a memory with watching Aladdin as kids and reflect on all the good he did in the world, using his status to help those who truly needed it.
Image: Getty / Disney
Even before his unexpected passing, stories have stood out in the minds of his fans and friends, one being his continuous work to help shelter dogs. He rescued one of his own dogs, Leonard Bean, from a New York City shelter. He posed with Leonard in one of the last photos he took to show his support for Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation. Williams maintained his social media account on Instagram with continuous photos with himself, his beloved dogs and even the animals that he looked after whilst on set for his movies. Perhaps most notably, he befriended the monkey that starred alongside him in Night at the Museum (2006). Producers of the film stated that if he wasn’t found in his trailer or with the other cast members, he could’ve been found with the animals, the monkey in particular.
His early life was quite normal, being brought up in family household in Chicago, Illinois, living with his parents and two older half-brothers. He excelled in all aspects of his schooling, from being on the school soccer team to becoming class president. At the age of 16, his father maintained an early retirement and the family relocated to California where he dropped out of college to pursue acting. With his natural humour and charm, he attained a full scholarship to the Julliard School of Performing Arts in New York City. To no one’s surprise, Williams left Juilliard during his junior year in 1976. It was said that there was nothing more the school could teach him and that the classical style of learning didn’t suit him. He moved back to California and began what would become one of his greatest talents; stand-up.
Image: Sony Records
From being a Juilliard trained actor to practicing and producing stand-up with television and Hollywood behind him, he honed his craft. He used all he could to truly put his mark on the world and make it a better place wherever he could, to whomever he could. His activism first started as political. He had no interest in becoming a politician, but he knew the rights for the people and the country. He travelled to many hospitals, war zones and took part in a non-profit organisation for the homeless (where he raised $80 million), which was the start of his charitable works in his still successing legacy. He had a passion off-stage and outside our television screens; a passion for animals. He was never seen wearing leather or wool, which was a big statement, going against red carpet trends at the time.
Image: John Shearer / Getty
The San Francisco Zoo were in many stories and articles after Williams’ death as they named a howler monkey in his honor. This was a beautiful sentiment to the legendary comedian as he helped raise money for the zoo’s causes years before. They wanted to thank him somehow for all his compassionate efforts.
I will forever be inspired and influenced by Robin Williams. All he worked and strived for, for the people and for himself will always remain an achievement.
Image: Easy Rock
“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”
– John Keating, Dead Poets Society (1989)
Written by: Darcey Weaven