When I heard of the death of Robin Williams, last night, my heart sank. No, I didn't know him, so it wasn't genuine sadness, like when you lose a friend or family member. But sadness at the loss of someone I looked up to and tried to emulate.
Simply put, he was a genius. Funny? Absolutely. And many performers will tell you that being funny...making people laugh...is maybe the most difficult thing you can do. And he did it well.
From his breakthough television cameo on Happy Days, which lead to his leading role in Mork and Mindy, to starring in big screen comedies like Mrs. Doubtfire and Aladdin, to his stand-up comedy...he had a way of commanding attention, and making people laugh.
In Good Morning, Vietnam, he played a radio DJ, something that hit close to home for me, and secured my admiration for him and his talents.
But he could do more than make us laugh. He could make us cry, too, and think, and feel. He was nominated for Academy Awards for his roles in Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King, and Good Morning, Vietnam. And he won an Oscar for his work in Good Will Hunting.
He filmed Patch Adams in Asheville, at Biltmore, in 1997. And many folks I've talked to recall fond encounters with Williams.
I never met him, but feel like I knew him. He lives on in the brilliance of the work he left behind. But I'll watch now a little sadder than before. You'll be missed, Robin.