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A spirit of play

Remembering Robin Williams (two)

2 minute read
Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams in “Hook” (© Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams in “Hook” (© Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

When I was a kid, Robin Williams’s films played incessantly because everyone I knew loved them. I’m a '90s kid who was often stationed in front of a television.

Movies like Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, and Hook were all staples on my living room. As I got older, I grew a deeper appreciation for Robin’s more serious works like Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society.

To me, Robin Williams has always been there. I didn’t get to see him break through on Mork & Mindy. There was never a point in my life where Robin Williams wasn’t the man; he’s responsible for so much great work that there are huge parts of my life that I can’t separate from his works.

One of my favorite memories of school as a child is the last few days when grades are already in and class devolved into something casual with snacks and naps, and sometimes a movie. One that was played over and over was Jumanji, which I can still quote verbatim. When is there a happier part of childhood than the last days of school? For me, Robin Williams was a big part of that.

Another Williams film that’s closely tied to my childhood is Hook. When I was young, my mother worked as a waitress. People would sell VHS bootlegs of movies with about three or four films on each one. We bugged her to get these because we liked getting more movies at once. Hook and Mrs. Doubtfire seemed to be on every tape we owned.

To a latchkey kid like me, the idea that childhood doesn’t have to end always had a profound impact. When I do improv, I play with people — Robin showed me early on that you can stay young by keeping in touch with that spirit of play.

A week ago I probably wouldn’t have listed Robin as one of my main influences because his impact on me came at a very early age. I took his talent for granted, as if it would always exist because it always had to me. He has always been a star to me, and now he’s gone and it just seems strange.

More remembrances by Rich Heimlich, Maria Thompson Corley, Chris Predmore, Tara Lynn Johnson, Michael Lawrence, Gary L. Day, Thom Nickels, and Armen Pandola.

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