Remembering Robin Williams: 40 Intriguing Tidbits About the Comedy Legend

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1 Robin Williams’ Early Juilliard Departure

Robin Williams' Early Juilliard Departure

Robin Williams attended Juilliard and was among the two students selected for the advanced program. Nevertheless, he left during his junior year, following his professor’s advice, who conveyed that “there was nothing more Juilliard could teach him.”


2. In 1974, a photographer captured images of a street mime in Central Park. Thirty-five years later, it was revealed that the mime was none other than Robin Williams before he rose to fame.


3. Robin Williams was dubbed “Least Likely to Succeed” in his high school yearbook.


4. Robin Williams and Christopher Reeve, who were close friends and attended Juilliard together, shared a deep bond. Williams generously covered many of Reeve’s medical expenses following his equestrian accident.


5. Just before Christopher Reeve’s surgery to reattach his skull to his spine, Robin Williams, posing as a proctologist, burst into the room to give him a rectal exam. His entry lightened the mood, causing Reeve to laugh for the first time since the accident.


6 Robin’s Improv in ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’

Robin's Improv in 'Good Morning, Vietnam'

A significant portion of the radio broadcasts in the film ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’ were improvised by Robin Williams.


7. Robin Williams contributed 14 hours of improvised lines for his inaugural animated voice role in ‘Ferngully: The Last Rainforest’. Originally slated for an 8-minute part, Williams’ performance impressed the director, leading to a tripling of his screen time.


8. When Sharon Osbourne, who was battling cancer, was feeling despondent, Ozzy asked Robin Williams to visit her. Unexpectedly, Williams joined her in bed, instantly transforming tears into laughter among her family. Sharon’s spirits lifted, prompting her to undergo chemotherapy the next day.


9. During the filming of ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ (1993), Robin Williams improvised so much that there were multiple edits of the film ranging from PG, PG-13, NC-17 to R.


10. While shooting ‘Mrs. Doubtfire,’ Robin Williams strolled through the streets of San Francisco in full Mrs. Doubtfire attire. On one occasion, he visited a sex shop to purchase a large dildo and other toys.


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11 Melting Icing: Robin’s Improvised Scene

Melting Icing: Robin's Improvised Scene

During the tea-serving scene in ‘Mrs. Doubtfire,’ the icing on the character’s face began to melt unintentionally due to the heat from the set lights. Robin Williams, known for his improvisational skills, seized the moment and improvised the majority of that scene.


12. Robin Williams performed stand-up comedy at a Seattle nightclub in 2004, 2007, and 2008, donating all proceeds, which amounted to nearly $50,000, to a local food bank without publicizing his actions.


13. During Robin Williams’ appearance on ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ in 2001, an audience member laughed so hard that they developed a hernia and had to be escorted away in an ambulance.


14. While filming “Schindler’s List,” Steven Spielberg would frequently put Robin Williams on speakerphone to lift the spirits of the cast and crew.


15. In order to persuade Robin Williams to voice the Genie in Aladdin (1992), Disney commissioned an animator to sketch and synchronize the Genie performing Williams’ own stand-up comedy. Williams was so impressed by the demonstration that he immediately agreed to the role.


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16 Genie’s Agreements: Robin vs. Disney

Genie's Agreements: Robin vs. Disney

Robin Williams accepted the role of the Genie for SAG scale pay ($75,000) under the conditions that neither his name nor image be used for marketing and that the character not occupy more than 25 percent of space on advertising artwork. However, Disney failed to honor both agreements.


17. During his audition for the role of Mork, when asked to take a seat, Robin Williams promptly sat on his head on the chair. He was cast on the spot.


18. The scripts for ‘Mork & Mindy’ were notably shorter due to Robin Williams’ penchant for improvisation. Certain sections were simply notated with “Robin will do something here.”


19. The production team for ‘Mork and Mindy’ had to employ a censor proficient in four languages to prevent Robin Williams from secretly slipping swear words in various languages into the show’s filming.


20. According to reports, Robin Williams’ suggestion led Sid Meier, the creator of games like Sid Meier’s Civilization and Sid Meier’s Pirates!, to start including his name in the titles of his games in the 1980s.


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21 School Letter: Robin’s Advocacy

School Letter: Robin's Advocacy

The actress who portrayed Robin Williams’ teenage daughter in ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ was expelled from school due to excessive absences during filming. Robin Williams penned a letter to the principal, respectfully pleading for reconsideration. Though unsuccessful in her reinstatement, the school did frame the letter.


22. Billy Crystal and Robin Williams made an impromptu cameo appearance on the show ‘Friends.’ They stumbled onto the set from a nearby set and improvised the opening scene for “The One With The Ultimate Fighting Champion.”


23. Robin Williams was offered and agreed to play The Joker in the 1989 film “Batman.” However, Warner Bros. extended the offer primarily to entice their first choice, Jack Nicholson, who eventually accepted. Williams demanded an apology from the studio because he felt tricked.


24. Robin Williams expressed interest in portraying Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies, but he was disqualified due to a British-only casting rule.


25. In ‘Good Will Hunting,’ Robin Williams improvised the final line as well as the scene where he discusses his wife farting in bed, resulting in Matt Damon’s genuine laughter.


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