by Boots Hart, CAP

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams (1951-2014)

Comedian Robin Williams performing as part of a USO holiday show held for the Aviano Air Base community.
(photo credit: Aviano Air Base, Italy - Dec. 22, 2007 -
US Air Force photo /Staff Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

I’ve just heard on the television that Robin Williams is no longer with us.

Hearing he was no longer breathing took my breath away.

I worked with Robin back in the day when I was just learning about movie production first hand (as opposed to hearing my-father-the-producer complain about making movies at the dinner table). The movie was called “The Best of Times”...and the making of “The Best of Times” was anything but. It was a hot, hot summer and every dumb cliché you’ve ever heard about movie making was somehow making an appearance to costly effect.

No one was happy. Days were long, the drives to “near” location were longer (and in LA traffic) and somewhere just shy of mid-picture (the point at which half the crew starts looking for their next job as the rest start gritting their teeth) the crew - all something hundred of them - they all got quite bent out of shape.

And on that day when the crew assumed various postures resembling paperclips, Robin Williams stepped up to the plate. As everyone broke for lunch, Robin ducked into the catering truck telling the chef to ‘just put something to one side for me’ - then he headed out into the sea of tables set up for mealtime and started doing improv stand-up.

According to one of the production assistants on the show, he never stopped. It was hot and everyone had worked themselves into that cheerful state of exhaustion which so typifies Hollywood production but wherever he went Robin had a quip, a comment, a poke which made everybody laugh.

Back at the studio I came across Robin one day as I wandered by a knot of people while thumbing through a stack of checks, unabashedly pausing to listen (as crew people do) when I heard someone engage Robin in what struck me as a classic exchange built on Robin's having already regaled everyone with some number of minutes of brilliance.

Crewperson: Are you like this all the time?

Robin: Sure. I’m just being me.

Crewperson: So what does your wife say about it?

Robin: She tells me to shut up.

Robin grinned that silly grin of his as he pronounced his personal doom, smiling at the idea - and maybe even at the fact no one would ever be the wiser as to what was real or comedy...who knows. But now, several decades later I still hear his voice ringing as it always seemed to with the blatancy of the obvious laced with irony and humor.

In the end I guess I always come back to Robin as the Genie in Disney’s ‘Aladdin.’ (People who are clients are chuckling at this point.) But more to the Robin of it all, there was a story which went around town during the making of ‘Aladdin’ about how when Robin when into the studio to record his dialogue, his ad libs were so much better than the script that the studio ditched both the script and the animation work done to date with regards to those scenes, telling the animation department to go back, do it again and this time follow Robin.

That's a pretty exotic story (even for Hollywood), considering the money which would be involved in such a command. But I tend to believe this tale for three reasons:

1.) because the ability to blow people out of the water most amazingly is sheer Robin Williams.

2.) because this is Disney we're talking about. (Never has there been a studio which understood the value of a well-constructed character better than Disney).

3.) I heard this story from an animator I had worked with on ‘An American Tail’ who went on to work for Disney on ‘Aladdin.’ (I tend to believe a guy facing doing months of work over again, Robin Williams or no Robin Williams.)

Apart from that, I never heard a cross word about Robin from anyone in the entertainment industry - which for those who work in Hollywood is an award of spirit as precious in its own way as a shiny Oscar. 

Robin Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois on July 21, 1951 at 1:35 p.m. (CST).

 Robin Williams
July 21, 1951 - 1:34 p.m. (CST/+6) - Chicago, Illinois (glyph chart)

 Robin Williams
July 21, 1951 - 1:34 p.m. (CST/+6) - Chicago, Illinois (text chart)

As an astrologer would, when I heard the news I looked back at the calendar and it all came clear even as my eyes filled with tears.

Uranus went retrograde on July 22nd as the Sun moved into Leo - a day after Robin’s are the links to the posts on same, if you’d like to read them.

As I have said many times, events which precede a planetary station - like Robin’s birthday did in this case - have yet to play out. And so it did.

But as for Robin no longer being with us, for me that will never be true. Robin will always be with me because on that one cavalier day when he was talking about his wife and I was looking for someone who needed a check, he impressed me with his willingness to laugh at everything about being human.

Today that laughter still remains...but it's sobered by a veil of tears for someone who will be missed even as we revel in the joy of his memory.

Robin's spirit remains a friend to us all.

Thank you for allowing me to share this moment of personal sadness.


  1. thank you! I was hoping you'd write about him.

  2. Robin always meant a lot to me. It's not just that his work was so brilliant, it's that he WAS so brilliant - which isn't always a picnic. Sometimes you walk the dog...sometimes your dogged brain runs away with you.

    Celebrity probably didn't make it any easier, though I can't really speak to that except to say that there is a side of celebrity - or simply ability and talent (the part of this discussion I know about) which can become more than torturous once the owner of said brain comes to realize that people just want them to be the performance, and not the real person they actually are. I've been through this one - it's horribly hurtful.

    His wife put out a statement today about Robin having been in the early stages of Parkinsons and how she hopes that this tragedy will motivate more people dealing with depression or anxiety (or whatever else) to get the help and support they need. I agree with her in theory, though I am also sure there is less help, little open-minded support and far too much bias in present tense time to deal with the problem.

    No one wants to feel worthless. In being worth so much to others, Robin evidently loss balance in being worth enough to himself. It's crushing.