Robin Williams‘ shocking death, in what appears to be a suicide in his Bay Area home, has elicited a flood of reactions, from those who knew him best, from colleagues and friends, and from fans who’ve followed his work from Mork & Mindy through his Oscar-winning turn in Good Will Hunting, an array of other film, TV and Broadway projects, his standup comedy and much more. Here’s a selection of those reactions:
Danny DeVito, Williams’ friend and co-star/director on Death to Smoochy: “So sad to think about this. Hard to speak. Hard to say. Hard to take. All I can think about is what a joy he was to be with. I’m devastated. I’m sending my love to his family and everyone who loved him. My heart is broken by this news.”
Garry Marshall, creator of Mork & Mindy: “Once, years ago, Robin and I were walking on the Paramount lot near the set of our show Mork & Mindy. It was very late at night and we were talking and walking. Robin loved to stay up late and always had more energy than any person anywhere, in any room. I said to him that night, “Do you think we will ever grow up?” And he said without missing a beat, “I’m afraid if I ever grow up, I won’t be able to make a living.” Play was his passion and what drove him each day.
“I will never forget the day I met him and he stood on his head in my office chair and pretended to drink a glass of water using his finger like a straw. The first season of Mork & Mindy, I knew immediately that a three-camera format would not be enough to capture Robin and his genius talent. So I hired a fourth camera operator and he just followed Robin. Only Robin. Looking back, four cameras weren’t enough. I should have hired a fifth camera to follow him too.
“Robin was hands-down a comedy genius and one of the most talented performers I have ever worked with in television or film. To lose him so young at the age of 63 is just a tragedy. I will forever be in awe of his timing, his talent and his pure and golden creativity. He could make everybody happy but himself. He was my friend and it is rare that you ever have a friend that is also a genius.”
Penny Marshall, director of 1990’s Awakenings: “I, along with my entire family am devastated by the passing of Robin Williams. I am truly blessed to have worked with my friend not only as an actress, but as a director. There will never be anyone like him; he truly was one of a kind. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. RIP Robin Williams.”
Henry Winkler, star of Happy Days: “This incredible, delicate, funny, dramatic human being is gone. When he came to do Happy Days, we usually rehearsed Monday to Fridays; he came in Wednesday because they couldn’t find anybody to play this alien from space that Garry Marshall had thought of. And we started rehearsing and I quickly realized I was in the presence of greatness. Hands down – this is not hyperbole.
“My only job was to keep a straight face and it was impossible because no matter that you said to him – no matter what line you gave to him, he took it in, processed it and then it flew out of his mouth, never the same way twice… You knew, Oh boy, you’re witnessing the beginning of something unbelievably special. He was electric — electrifying – and he was like, that no matter what he did, all the time…No matter what he did, he was that…It was just an amazing thing to witness.”
Robert De Niro, Williams’ co-star in Awakenings: “I’m stunned. Beyond saddened. Billy [Crystal] said it best: ‘No words.'”
Nathan Lane, Williams’ co-star in The Birdcage: “I feel I have to say something more than just “heartbreaking and shocking” which everyone has said and I feel as well, but something a little more personal. Thus the following:
“One day in 1995 while riffing in the character of a snobby French toy-store owner, Robin made me laugh so hard and so long that I cried. It seemed to please him no end. Yesterday I cried again at the thought that he was gone. What I will always remember about Robin, perhaps even more than his comic genius, extraordinary talent, and astounding intellect, was his huge heart – his tremendous kindness, generosity, and compassion as an acting partner, colleague, and fellow traveler in a difficult world. My heartfelt condolences to his wife and family.”
Jeff Bridges, Williams’ co-star in The Fisher King: “My heart is broken
I love Robin so
My heart goes out to his family
He is a treasure chest of creativity and generosity of spirit to us all
Words fail to express…
I leave you with this picture”
Ben Stiller, Williams’ co-star on three Night at the Museum movies: “I met Robin when I was 13 at The Improv. I was there with my parents who were performing and it was crowded and I heard this voice behind me saying “Stay close to your mother, you’ll be safe! Stay close to your mother, you’ll be safe!” I turned around and it was Robin. For a 13-year-old who was a huge “Mork and Mindy” fan, it was sort of like the end of the world. I never forgot it. So working with him years later I always had this little voice insides of me going “you are acting with Robin Williams! This is the coolest thing ever!” I never got over being a fan. I think most people my age have the same feeling — that he and Steve Martin and Bill Murray sort of represented what it meant to be funny.
“His kindness and generosity is what I think of. How kind he was to anyone who wanted to connect with him. And he could not help but be funny all the time. He would do something as long as it would keep you laughing. He made many, many film crews laugh out loud before the audiences ever saw it. He made such a big impact on the world. So there is the man, and his talent, and I think in his case both were extraordinary.”
Jeffrey Katzenberg, executive on Williams’ film hits Aladdin, Dead Poet’s Society, Good Morning Vietnam: “It’s heartbreaking. Robin Williams was one the sweetest, most generous, caring, philanthropic people of our generation. He was just a sweetheart in every respect. The thought of him being in that kind of pain is just crushing. He gave so much to so many of us. There’s not a single person on this planet that could touch what he did. He really was a national treasure.”
Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company and producer of Good Will Hunting: “Bob and I were shocked and heartbroken to hear about Robin’s death. I met Robin when we made Good Will Hunting together and we were so proud to work with him and especially thrilled he won his well-deserved Oscar for his role. He was a titan in our industry and his one-of-kind talent is irreplaceable. He’d tell us all to let the show go on, but I know we’ll all pause to remember our beautiful friend and colleague.”
Forest Whitaker: “The world has lost a special soul. Robin Williams touched our hearts, he gave us laughter, he gave us joy, he made us think about the impossible. I’m blessed to have been able to walk inside his universe. He forever changed this world with his presence. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and to all those who hold him dear.
Rest in Peace
HBO, where Williams did a number of standup specials: “Robin Williams graced HBO for so many years with his uncommon gifts. He never failed to elevate his art and did so with a full, generous and loving heart. Always humble and gracious, Robin was a prince and holds a special place in all our hearts.”
Chevy Chase: “Robin and I were great friends, suffering from the same little-known disease: depression. I never could have expected this ending to his life, and to ours with him. God bless him and God bless us all for his LIFE! I cannot believe this. I am overwhelmed with grief. What a wonderful man/boy and what a tremendous talent in the most important art of any time – comedy! I loved him.”
Sally Field, Williams’ co-star in Mrs. Doubtfire: “I feel stunned and so sad about Robin. I’m sad for the world of comedy. And so very sad for his family. And I’m sad for Robin. He always lit up when he was able to make people laugh, and he made them laugh his whole life long…. tirelessly. He was one of a kind. There will not be another. Please God, let him now rest in peace.”
John Travolta, Williams’ co-star on Old Dogs: “I’ve never known a sweeter, brighter, more considerate person than Robin…Robin’s commitment as an artist to lifting our mood and making us happy is compared to none. He loved us all and we loved him back…he had only the best things to say about people and we are all better for having known him!! I love you Robin!”
Steven Spielberg: “Robin was a lightning storm of comic genius and our laughter was the thunder that sustained him. He was a pal and I can’t believe he’s gone.”
Comedian David Steinberg: “Robin Williams and I went on stage together for six months last year playing theaters across the country. Besides seeing his brilliant improvisational mind in action every night was the pleasure in just getting to know him and his generosity and spirit.
“He looked after Jonathan Winters and put him on his TV shows. He would drive to Santa Barbara weekly to make sure Jonathan was ok. A comic genius looking after another comic genius. Robin looked after everyone. If only he would have looked after himself.”
Shawn Levy, director of Williams in three Night at the Museum features: “I am shattered by the loss of my friend and collaborator Robin Williams. Onscreen and off, this was a formidable, incredible guy — generous in the best way: with his heart and humor, devoted to making others happy. Over his remarkable career, Robin moved us to tears; sometimes from laughter, sometimes from humanity, sometimes both in the same moment, a feat that few performers have equaled. I will miss Robin deeply but I will never stop treasuring the phenomenal, enduring work he gave to us all. Robin Williams was that rarest of things: a true and forever one of a kind.”
David Steinberg, Williams’ manager for 35 years: “Nobody made the world laugh like Robin Williams. My brother, my friend, my soul mate, I will miss you.”
Pam Dawber, Williams’ co-star on Mork & Mindy: “I am completely and totally devastated. What more can be said?!”
James Lipton, host of Inside the Actors Studio: “He was the first two-hour show we ever did. He opened doors for us. He opened doors for everyone. … I am processing this, as we all are. I’m unable to cope with it.”
Muhammad Ali: “We were shocked and sorry to hear of Robin’s passing. He was a wonderful and loving human being who was always willing and ready to help others. Our prayers and sympathy go out to his family. May he rest in peace.”
Zak Williams, oldest son: “Yesterday, I lost my father and a best friend and the world got a little grayer. I will carry his heart with me every day. I would ask those that loved him to remember him by being as gentle, kind, and generous as he would be. Seek to bring joy to the world as he sought.”
Zelda Williams, daughter: “My family has always been private about our time spent together. It was our way of keeping one thing that was ours, with a man we shared with an entire world. But now that’s gone, and I feel stripped bare. My last day with him was his birthday, and I will be forever grateful that my brothers and I got to spend that time alone with him, sharing gifts and laughter. He was always warm, even in his darkest moments. While I’ll never, ever understand how he could be loved so deeply and not find it in his heart to stay, there’s minor comfort in knowing our grief and loss, in some small way, is shared with millions. It doesn’t help the pain, but at least it’s a burden countless others now know we carry, and so many have offered to help lighten the load. Thank you for that.
To those he touched who are sending kind words, know that one of his favorite things in the world was to make you all laugh. As for those who are sending negativity, know that some small, giggling part of him is sending a flock of pigeons to your house to poop on your car. Right after you’ve had it washed. After all, he loved to laugh too…
Dad was, is and always will be one of the kindest, most generous, gentlest souls I’ve ever known, and while there are few things I know for certain right now, one of them is that not just my world, but the entire world is forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter in his absence. We’ll just have to work twice as hard to fill it back up again.”
Cody Williams, youngest son: “There are no words strong enough to describe the love and respect I have for my father. The world will never be the same without him. I will miss him and take him with me everywhere I go for the rest of my life, and will look forward, forever, to the moment when I get to see him again.”
Marsha Garces Williams, second wife: “My heart is split wide open and scattered over the planet with all of you. Please remember the gentle, loving, generous – and yes, brilliant and funny – man that was Robin Williams. My arms are wrapped around our children as we attempt to grapple with celebrating the man we love, while dealing with this immeasurable loss.”
SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard (Williams had been a union member since 1977): “I am deeply saddened to hear of Robin Williams’ death. He was a performer of limitless versatility, equally adept at comedy and drama, whether scripted or improv. With his incomparable manic style, he could appeal to adult sensibilities in a stand-up comedy routine or elicit giggles from children as the voice of Genie in Aladdin. Outside of his career, he used his considerable talents to raise money for charity. He was not only a talented man, but a true humanitarian. It’s such a tremendous loss.”
The Creative Coalition Chairman Michael P. Frankfurt (Williams was an advisory board member for nearly two decades): “He used his prominence and visibility to do well while doing good, shining a light on the health, education and welfare of people less fortunate than himself. He co-created Comic Relief in 1986 to benefit the health care of homeless people throughout the country. In addition, in 1992, Robin started The Windfall Foundation, directing profits from the movie FernGully: The Last Rainforest to fund the nonprofit, which then distributed the money to worthwhile arts, environmental, health, education and children’s causes.”
Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of Disney: “We’re deeply saddened by the loss of Robin Williams, a wonderfully gifted man who touched our hearts and never failed to make us laugh. An incredible actor and a comedic genius, Robin will always be remembered for bringing some of the world’s favorite characters to life, from his zany alien on ABC’s Mork & Mindy to the irascible genie in Disney’s Aladdin. He was a true Disney Legend, a beloved member of our family, and he will be sorely missed. We join Robin’s friends and fans everywhere in mourning, and offer our thoughts and condolences to his family during this difficult time.”
Twentieth Century Fox TV, Producer of Williams’s last TV show, The Crazy Ones: “Robin Williams was a comedy giant, and although we only knew him personally for a season, he was warm, funny and a true professional. His cast and crew both loved him and loved working with him, and our hearts go out to his family and friends. He was one of a kind.”
21st Century Fox, where Williams had been part of filming the third Night at the Museum: “There really are no words to describe the loss of Robin Williams. He was immensely talented, a cherished member of our community, and part of the Fox family. Our hearts go out to his family, friends and fans. He will be deeply missed.”
CBS, network for Williams’ The Crazy Ones: “Our world has lost a comic genius, a gifted actor and a beautiful man. We will remember Robin Williams as one of the unique talents of his time who was loved by many, but also as a kind, caring soul, who treated his colleagues and co-workers with great affection and respect. Our heartfelt thoughts and sympathies go out to his family, loved ones and friends.”
Comedy Central: “Robin Williams was a true force of nature whose remarkable body of work touched untold millions. He was sincere and generous and one of the most brilliant comedic minds ever to grace the planet. Very few achieve his exalted status. Our hearts go out to his family and friends, and to the entire comedy community for losing one of our own.”
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