Thursday, August 14, 2014

Robin Williams' Magic Mirror

The truth is, if anything, I'm probably addicted to laughter. —Robin Williams 1951-2014
It's really been upsetting reading the news with myriad gossip-mongers having a field day at Robin Williams' expense. Folks have been busy blaming Robin's turbulent drug-ridden past and/or a lack of money for his suicide.

According to his financial advisor, despite two divorces, Robin was not on shaky financial ground. He was solid. Royalties were coming in. He has three new movies about to be released. Income (or a lack thereof) wasn't the reason for his death.

Nor was vice the cause. His vices: he was clean from drugs having gone cold turkey since the day John Belushi died in 1982, and he was also sober for 20 years. Yes, Robin fell off the wagon in 2003 while on a movie set in Alaska, and when he began to fall off the barstool, with family intervention, he got back on the wagon in 2006—so he was eight years sober on round two.).

His vices didn't kill him; being bipolar is not a vice, it's an illness. Profound depression was the real enemy. I've seen what it did to my mother, the failed suicide attempts. When slitting his wrists failed, Robin hanged himself with his own belt, wedged over the top of the closet door. He could've saved himself, but death was the only escape route. The toxicology report is still out but I'm willing to bet it will come back clean.

Robin was also recovering from massive open heart surgery (2009), an operation that often leaves survivors profoundly depressed and suicidal. As if his plate wasn't full enough, we come to find out that he also suffered from early onset Parkinson's Disease, a neuro-degenerative disorder that affects balance, movement, and cadence; other symptoms include tremors, and facial paralysis.

One million Americans have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s; it affects as many as 10 million people worldwide. Men are more likely to get it than women. There is no cure. I wonder if Robin Williams had gotten a chance to talk to Michael J. Fox about his symptoms, if it would've made a difference? Or was being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease the final straw? With that prognosis hanging over his head, his future must have seemed like a bleak Godot.

Robin was a very prolific man, he's left behind a prodigious body of work with nearly 50 movies to his credit, and almost as many TV shows, not to mention comedy shows, and charitable work. In 1986 he helped found Comic Relief USA, raising $80 million for the homeless. He's won two Oscars Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Emmys, four Golden Globes, and five Grammy Awards.

His work literally defined who he was. Robin's very identity was wrapped up in his ability to mime and to mimic others. A man of a thousand voices and thousands of  characters. The magic mirror itself was shattered. And no amount of drugs or superglue could fix that.

RIP, Robin. You had the courage to dream big. You made your life spectacular. And we are all the better for it.

Oh, Captain, my Captain. 

There will be a one-minute worldwide standing ovation (preferably while standing on your desk or on your car roof) to celebrate the incomparable Robin Williams on Monday, August 18 at 1 PM, PST.

Robin Spotting
Memory: Robin Williams
Dream: Robin Williams


marythea's heart said...

awesome piece, thank you. where in the world did you get the picture and the anecdote?????? i miss him so very much.

Maureen Hurley said...

Dear marythea's heart,

Thank you. The meme was from Facebook. A catch and release. I don't know who made it.

There are more Robin posts on this blog.
Robin Spotting

Memory: Robin Williams