Robin Williams' Death Leaves Fans Reminiscing

Originally published on August 12, 2014 2:53 pm
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It may have taken his death to realize what a giant presence Robin Williams was in American culture. News of his apparent suicide spread yesterday.


And it brought to mind Robin Williams' movies that worked their way into our lives. As a young man dreaming of a career in broadcast, I listened to his lines as a DJ in "Good Morning, Vietnam" over and over again. It's 0600. What's the O stand for? Oh, my God, it's early.

INSKEEP: When I was married in New York one June, my brothers and friends walked around singing a Robin Williams line from "The Fisher King." I like New York in June. How about you?

GREENE: Aspiring writers could relate to the aspiring writer he played in "The World According To Garp."

INSKEEP: Anybody who reads a line of Walt Whitman - I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world - and has tended to yawp herself, may recall Williams' pushing a student to yawp in "Dead Poets Society."

GREENE: In "The Birdcage" in 1996, he played a gay man in a loving relationship at a time when gay characters were far less common and less accepted than they are today.

INSKEEP: And in "Good Will Hunting," he played a psychologist who focused on his patient's problems.


ROBIN WILLIAMS: (As Sean Maguire) People call these things imperfections, but they're not. Oh, that's the good stuff.

INSKEEP: A memorable insight in that screenplay by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. It is our craziness that makes us human.

GREENE: Robin Williams, of course, was a performer on stage as well as the screen. And many of his greatest roles featured characters who put on a performance - a teacher before class, a man on the radio, a gay man trying to pass as straight.

INSKEEP: The preliminary finding of suicide suggests there were layers beneath his performance that the world never saw. But that he carried off such a performance for so very long - that was the good stuff. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.