People

Published: Thursday August 14, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Saturday August 16, 2014 MYT 10:24:12 AM

Gooooooooood night, Robin Williams. Thanks for the laughs.

Rest in peace, Robin Williams.

A light has gone out in the world, and the rest of us are going to have to work our butts off to compensate in brightening up this dump.

Of all his roles, the obvious stand-outs come to mind: Mork, the alien visitor confused by life on this mad planet; Adrian Cronauer, the unconventional airman/deejay who tried – fought – to liven up the dreary broadcasts he was tasked with; John Keating, the English teacher who inspired his students to carpe diem; Sean Maguire, who told Will Hunting “It’s not your fault”.

I remember his crazy-mad voice acting as Batty from FernGully more fondly than the genie in Aladdin.

He played “twisted” roles with a compelling vulnerability. I recall the tortured photo shop employee who obsesses on a customer’s “perfect” family in the overlooked and underrated One Hour Photo; and the chilling and all-too-real Merritt Rook, the manipulative and arrogant character he played on Law & Order: SVU’s amazing episode Authority.

I remember how he brightened up the otherwise humdrum Nine Months (Hugh Grant, Julianne Moore) as Dr Kosevich, a recently-arrived-in-America and somewhat English-challenged Russian veterinarian who decided to switch his speciality to babies. “Now let’s take a look at your Volvo” and “You have a girl... unless I cut the wrong cord.”

Tributes for Robin Williams continue around the world, including a sign outside the comedy nightclub The Laugh Factory in Hollywood, California. – EPA/MICHAEL NELSON

And of course, there’s Mork & Mindy, which made him a household name all over the world, including our little neck of the woods. Anyone remember that the show was actually a spin-off from Happy Days? He played Mork, an alien from the planet Ork who wanted to abduct Richie Cunningham and bring him to his home world, only to be foiled by the Fonz. The episode ended with Richie waking up from a dream... only Mork proved so popular that Williams became a repeat guest star before getting his own show. The Happy Days “mythology” was modified to show how Mork erased the memory of his visits from everyone’s mind.

Mork & Mindy had me right from the first episode when Pam Dawber’s Mindy mistook him for a priest after he wore his Earthling suit backwards! I couldn’t stop laughing for so long, my folks thought I was crazy.

And if there’s one thing Robin Williams repeatedly showed me in all his roles, it’s all right to be the crazy one (not plugging his recent series here), the offbeat one, the convention-defying one, if you can make a difference wherever you’re at.

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD night, Robin Williams.

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