The world recently said a bitter good-bye to one of our beloved performers, Robin Williams. Bookmans Speedway joins our community in grieving for this tremendous genius. We took a moment to reflect on the career and brilliance of an artist whose work spanned multiple generations and who touched literally millions of lives, but a moment isn’t nearly enough.

Robin Williams

Robin McLaurin Williams was born in Chicago in 1951. He began his career as a stand-up comedian in California. His first performance took place at the comedy club Holy Zoo City in San Francisco where he worked his way up from tending bar to getting on stage. If you have not seen Robin Williams Live in San Francisco, we strongly recommend it as a must see show.

Williams exhibited the kind of spontaneous genius that leaves his audience literally on the floor. When asked how he came up with his material, Williams explained that, especially early in his career, it was mostly improvisation. Williams’ improvisation leaves us wondering how anyone can think that quickly and be that hysterical.

Williams performance on the the iconic 70s T.V. show Happy Days is out of this world. Richie Cunningham meets an alien from outer space named Mork. Thanks to the brilliance of Williams, Mork became an instant hit and the spin off Mork and Mindy was created.

Williams was greatly influenced by the comedians of his youth, talents like Sid Ceasar, Richard Pryor, Dudley Moore and Peter Cook. He was also a fan, along with everyone else in the 70s of Peter Sellers, especially his movie Dr. Strangelove. Williams won a Grammy Award for the recording of his 1979 live show at the Copacabana in New York, Reality… What a Concept. It was the first of many professional accolades and awards he would receive.

Williams won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in Good Will Hunting, but it was his unbelievable turn in Mrs. Doubtfire in 1993 that gained him real notice. With films like The Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King, Insomnia, What Dreams May Come and, two of his best, Good Morning Vietnam and Aladdin, he touched multiple generations of lives. He is a vital part of the fabric of American culture, not just another actor but a true icon in the very real sense of the word.

Robin Williams took his life on the  morning of August 11, 2014, in his home near Tiburon, Calif. It is heartbreaking that someone who brought so much unbound joy to so many could be tightly bound in such pain. We know that he, like so many, struggled with depression and addiction. We later learned that he was diagnosed with early-stage Parkinson’s disease. He is terribly missed and his fans will feel the pain of loss for a long time. We will focus on his beautiful, magical life and talents, his generous spirit and indelible wit. The span and creativity of his career is difficult to encapsulate.

Rest in peace, Robin.