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Robin Williams

Robin Williams performing in .
Robin Williams performing in Iraq.

Robin McLaurin Williams (born July 21, 1952) is a multi-award-winning American actor and comedian who was born in Chicago, Illinois. He first achieved notice for his stand-up routines in San Francisco. Garry Marshall cast him as an alien in a guest star part in Happy Days that was so popular it led to his own series in the television series Mork & Mindy, which ran from 1978 to 1982. The majority of his acting career has been for cinema, although he has made some memorable performances on stage as well (notably as Estragon in a production of Waiting for Godot). His first starring roles as Popeye and in "The World According to Garp" were both major flops but with "Good Morning Vietnam" Williams established a screen identity.

He is known for his wild improv skills and impersonations. He is a talented mimic and can jump in and out of characters at an extremely fast pace. His comic style is a major influence on late night talk show host/comedian Conan O'Brien. Williams states that he began doing impersonations as a child mimicking the Southern accent of his aunt.

Many of his roles have been comic (eg. The Birdcage, Mrs. Doubtfire). In particular, his role as the Genie in the animated film, Aladdin was instrumental in establishing the importance of star power in voice actor casting. He has also starred in serious movies (Awakenings , What Dreams May Come) and in 1998 he won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his role as a psychiatrist in Good Will Hunting. However, by the early 2000s, his choices for dramatic roles grew to be criticized as overly mawkish and sentimental, especially 1998's Patch Adams, prompting him to temporarily dabble in villain roles such as in Insomnia and One Hour Photo.

Robin Williams and his wife Marsha Garces Williams founded the Windfall Foundation , a philanthropic organization to raise money for many different charities. Robin Williams devotes much of his energy doing work for charities, including the Comic Relief fund-raising efforts.

Williams first marriage was to Valerie Velardi on June 4, 1978, with whom he had one child, Zachary. Williams apparently fell in love with his son's nanny, Marsha Garces, which resulted in the end of his first marriage in 1988. He subsequently married for the second time, this time to Marsha Garces Williams on April 30, 1989. They have two children together.

Watching his frantic mannerisms and immediate changes in personality, some have speculated that Williams is affected by bipolar disorder, but this has never been confirmed. A more likely explanation for his remarkable creativity and intense impulsive humor may be the reason that he is often referred to as "the poster child for ADD" adult attention-deficit disorder.

In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, he was voted amongst the top 50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.


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Last updated: 08-13-2005 06:07:32
Last updated: 08-27-2005 11:58:55