Robin Williams – who first made America laugh and eventually touched “every element of the human spirit” in a remarkable range of performances – died at his Northern California home Monday. Williams apparently took his own life, law enforcement officials said. He was 63.
Robin McLaurin Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 21, 1951. His mother, Laura McLaurin was a former model from New Orleans, Louisiana. His father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams, was a senior executive at Ford Motor Company in charge of the Midwest region.
Williams described himself as a quiet child whose first imitation was of his grandmother to his mother. He did not overcome his shyness until he became involved with his high school drama department. In 1973, Williams was one of only 20 students accepted into the freshman class at Juilliard and one of only two students to be accepted by John Houseman into the Advanced Program at the school that year.
Rising to fame with his role as the alien Mork in the TV series Mork & Mindy (1978–1982), Williams went on to establish a successful career in both stand-up comedy and feature film acting. His film career included such acclaimed films as The World According to Garp (1982), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), Awakenings (1990), The Fisher King (1991), and Good Will Hunting (1997), as well as financial successes such as Popeye (1980), Hook (1991), Aladdin (1992), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumanji (1995), The Birdcage (1996), Night at the Museum (2006), and Happy Feet (2006). He also appeared in the video “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin.
Williams is survived by his wife, Susan Schneider; brother McLaurin Smith Williams; children Zachary Williams, Cody Williams and Zelda Rae Williams; and stepsons Casey Armusewicz and Peter Armusewicz.