Robin Williams Is Dead at 63, This is a Feelings Atrium

Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams died in his home Monday, according to Marin County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office has not confirmed the cause of death but “suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.”

A rep released this statement: “Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

From his memorable roles in Mrs. Doubtfire to Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams was an astounding actor and funny person. We are shocked and sad to hear that he passed away. Geekery Editor Ali said, “I cannot accept a world where Robin Williams doesn’t exist. And where Robin Thicke is our most famous living Robin.” Feminism and Straddleverse Editor Carmen said, “whoa I might cry in this grocery store and am definitely watching hook tonight. or the one about the doctor. or the one where he grows up too fast. or mrs. doubtfire. or OH MY GOD I CANT HANDLE IT.” In addition to his amazing talent, it’s important to note Williams raised a gay pug who had a boyfriend.

Here are our favorite, most memorable characters played by Robin Williams. What are your favorite Robin Williams movies?


He was inspirational teacher, John Keating in Dead Poets Society.

He was Mrs. Doubtfire. MRS. DOUBTFIRE.

He won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Good Will Hunting.

He was Peter in Hook.

He was the voice of fun-loving Genie in Aladdin.

He was Alan Parrish in Jumanji.

He played gay cabaret owner, Armand Goldman in The Birdcage. This is what he had to say in an interview about his role: “If i can use my celebrity status to draw people into a movie theater to see me perform as an admirable gay man and thereby make them a little most positive about gay people, why wouldn’t I do it? I get to be an activist for gay rights without even having to get up on Sunday morning and march in a parade. It’s a win/win for me and for gay rights — I’m here! I’m queer! I’m making points to get into heaven!”

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85 Comments

  1. Thumb up 7

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    As a kid my family loved his Popeye movie. I know some people think it was odd, but it’s just delightful to me. Full of wonderful songs and great slapstick. But the role that really affected me growing up was in Fisher King. It married the best parts of his comedic and dramatic acting into an amazing movie!

    He’s always been there my entire life. I’m just really upset. :'(

  2. Thumb up 12

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    Robin Williams was my favorite actor when I was growing up. I thought the genie had the best songs in ‘Aladdin’, I was disappointed when the Jumanji game I got for my birthday one year wasn’t like in the movie, ‘Jack’ made me realize that even though my little sister was severely mentally disabled and would never be “like the other kids” she was a blessing all the same, I cried along with my parents when we watched ‘What Dreams May Come’ even though I didn’t really understand all of it (and watched it over and over again once I got a little older and cried all the same), and watching ‘Dead Poets Society’ at my friend’s Bible study made me really think about what was important to me and what I stand for…

    I was bummed when Kurt Vonnegut passed, but I can’t quit crying right now. It feels a bit silly because it’s not like I ever met the man, but Robin Williams was a big part of my childhood. And, well, as someone who tries her best to deal with depression and anxiety, this hits close to home.

    Oh captain, my captain. Rest in peace.

  3. Thumb up 10

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    I loved his work, from the cocaine driven days of the 70-80’s on up to his more movie dramatic work when was clean. All of it was touched with that manic anger and laughter of someone who notices too much sadness.

    Nanu Nanu.

  4. Thumb up 7

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    One time I was at a tiny comedy club for a showcase of amateurs, and after the show Robin Williams showed up and did a surprise, secret set for free. He worked very, very blue and was hilarious. It was so unbelievable and surreal and so generous of him.

    I am so sorry for his family. I hope they find some peace.

  5. Thumb up 12

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    I am generally unaffected by celebrity deaths, but then again, I don’t think I ever really saw Robin Williams as a celebrity. He has always played such an important role, not only in my childhood, but also in formative years as I grew up to see him play more serious roles. Many of these were firm and nurturing roles; men you learned from and respected. Off the top of my head, I can think of World’s Greatest Dad, Good Will Hunting, and even Ms. Doubtfire. I think I unwittingly began to see Williams as a sort of alter-father figure. This comforting and genuine man who gave me reassurance through the work that he did. I am truly and deeply shaken by his death, and will be mourning this one for quite some time. I often feel so far removed from celebrities that I forget they are human beings with hurting souls just like the rest of us. Rest in peace, you brilliant, inspiring man. Thank you for everything you have contributed to this world.

    Now I’ll go curl up in fetal position and watch World’s greatest dad, Ms. Doubtfire, and Jumanji. Goodbye world.

  6. Thumb up 5

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    Dead Poets Society touched my heart and made me cry!!! :(

    Carpe diem!!!

    And so sad to think it might be taking his own life….. from depression…. after filling our lives with laughter and love and beautiful thoughts

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      Maryanna, will you let me be your wife and lover? You are the one who made me know I am female and enabled me to feel real love for the first time in my life! I love you so much! I am the high school girl who loves the cute arty college girl who melts my heart!!

  7. Thumb up 2

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    It always freaks me out when favourite celebs from my childhood pass. This one especially hits home and now I have all the feels :(
    May his passing be a reminder of the struggle many people go through with depression and how much work there is still to do.

  8. Thumb up 6

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    I had no idea that I loved Robin Williams so much until he died. I’ve been sitting here balling my eyes out for like a hour and I NEVER cry. WTF man! I can’t even believe it. As someone who has battled anxiety and depression for most of my life I feel for him and his family.

  9. Thumb up 6

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    the scene in mrs. doubtfire where he pleads to keep his children was the first time i bawled uncontrollably in a theater. i was 8, and i remember it like it was yesterday. he was so talented and had such kindness and warmth in his eyes. ugh i am heartbroken.

    oh, and depression can fuck right off.

  10. Thumb up 3

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    I don’t how to deal with this. It’s too fucking sad. I just found out he was bipolar, and so am I. I was so excited to learn more about him, as all his movies have really resonated with me, and I feel like that other part of him makes me feel an even greater connection to a great person.

  11. Thumb up 16

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    This was posted over on Twitter and I almost lost it when I heard the news at work.

    God damn it, man. I remember my family would always gather together to watch his movies on that one small ass little tv we had.

    Thanks for all the laughs, Robin.

  12. Thumb up 2

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    This news breaks my heart. He was such a uniquely talented man, who gave the world gifts through acting, comedy, and being himself. I’m glad he’s no longer tormented by depression. I feel for his family – the loss of such a spirited person will be endlessly painful.

  13. Thumb up 2

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    Jack is my favorite Robin williams movie. The first time i watched it, I cried my eyes out and laughed on the top of my lungs. The second time too along with the third, fourth, fifth and so on. I was just a kid and he made me cry with his movie. I felt the ache radiating through his facial expressions and dramatic timing. He made a rambunctious kid feel emotional. He’s an artist and not just a plain regular actor.

    “suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.” Hope not. If this is true though…. I don’t want to blame him because depression is an illness. It needs medication and long term spiritual and psychological therapy. There are survivors and there are casualties. It’s part of the journey.

    Thank you for sharing your life with so many of us. May your soul rest now, Robin. God bless.

  14. Thumb up 5

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    “I cannot accept a world where Robin Williams doesn’t exist. And where Robin Thicke is our most famous living Robin.”

    I guess I need to step up.

    This feels so unreal. I feel like I knew him, although I didn’t. I’m sad. Not just that he’s gone, not just that it was suicide, but that he, who gave us so much, was suffering so much.

  15. Thumb up 4

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    This makes me incredibly sad. So much of his work was an important part of my childhood (and a lot of other peoples’ apparently). Even as recent as last night: Mrs. Doubtfire was playing in the background when I came out to my best friend from high school and roommate. Depression is a sneaky and merciless son of a bitch. I am glad to see that people on social media are publicizing all sorts of resources to help deal with it.

  16. Thumb up 4

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    I was sick while traveling yesterday and I seriously watched Dead Poets Society for encouragement. Definitely saying special things for him today at the Vatican. I don’t even want to get out of bed. I just want to watch Hook.

  17. Thumb up 2

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    I heard the news first from my girlfriend, then immediately went to twitter. I just can’t believe this, who would of thought he was battling depression? The way he was, I bet nobody knew! He will be sadly missed. I pity any of the kids these days that don’t have a clue who he is.

  18. Thumb up 3

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    It surprises me how sad this makes me. I never really saw many of his movies — other than Aladdin, Jumanji and Hook (which I did love as a kid, although Jumanji always terrified me). I usually don’t have much in the way of a reaction to celebrity deaths, either. But there’s something about Robin Williams. Something about the fact that this was unexpected, and something about the softness of his face. If I could choose a celebrity to hug, he would have been around the top of my list.

  19. Thumb up 14

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    I just posted this on Facebook:

    “Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor…I am Pagliacci.” – Alan Moore, The Watchmen

    Comedy masks pain so often.

  20. Thumb up 1

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    I was at dinner with my lady friend when reading the news. At first, I really thought it was a hoax. After verifying it through numerous sources, I figured it to be true.

    It’s just so sad to feel such a large part of your childhood gone. Just like that.

    Time to binge watch all of his movies and cry.

  21. Thumb up 3

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    Usually celebrity deaths don’t affect me so much, but Robin has brought me so much joy over the years. This sadness I’m feeling makes me want to strive for being unrestricted in my goofyness and what makes me who I am.

  22. Thumb up 8

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    I’m honestly having a really hard time dealing with this. It’s just, like, my entire life has been built on this idea that if I achieved some form of success in my comedy, I’d be okay. But Robin Williams was as accomplished and successful and famous as I could ever hope to be, and even that didn’t make him happy – or at least it didn’t erase his depression, which is sometimes independent of “happiness,” in the broadest sense, no matter how much we want to think otherwise. So I guess I’m just really concerned. Sometimes, on any normal day, the only thing keeping me going is the dream that one day I will be some highly respected comedic writer and all my problems will be gone, and it’s not like I’m naive enough to really buy into that idea 100%, but peachy, unblemished dreams are what really keep us going, so I didn’t dwell on it. But this is kind of really making me second guess everything. I thought that being a comedian and having people love me and laugh at me would be my ultimate happiness, but that doesn’t always work. Sometimes your cloud of despair is inescapable. That scares me.

    It’s like some darkness I can’t overcome. Doing impressions of his characters when I was a kid made me realize that being laughed at on purpose could feel good, and that pretty much revolutionized my life. But on the other hand, it’s interesting and devastating how comedy and depression can intersect. During my worst depressive period, in high school, I was constantly making my teacher cry with laughter in theater class when I performed my comedic monologues, I had my own comedy show he sold tickets to (and the house was packed every night), I did stand-up for the first time and won the talent show, and I emceed our music honor society’s benefit concert and fielded a ton of compliments (not to brag, but it was one of the shiniest periods of my life). But I would also go home and cry uncontrollably every night and I could not stop thinking about killing myself in various ways. If I was in the garage, I imagined myself dying from carbon monoxide poisoning. If I was in the kitchen, I pictured myself with my head in the oven. If I was in the basement, I could see myself swinging from the steel support beams, hanging from a noose made out of an extension cord (which I actually made one really bad evening). Almost all my memories of my childhood house are marred by the scenes I imagined in every room of my dead body somewhere.

    It all just really hits home for me, and it hasn’t been an easy evening, to be honest.

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      Hi Lora, what you’re saying really resonated with me, and I hope you don’t mind if I respond to you. I recognised a lot of what you said from where I was some ten years ago. Humour often comes from the darkest place, really. I come from a family of depressed people, and the days we have laughed the most and the hardest were the days we all went to a funeral together.

      The thing is, this dream of success in what you do well keeps you going because you do get happiness from it, even if it can’t cure every single one of your problems. It helps you keep doing things, exciting, difficult, dangerous-feeling things, and living your life. It comes from that drive that lets you come up with creative stuff, make connections that no one else does. And you can definitely use that strong drive to realise you want to be alive.

      I spent the first part of my life exactly in what you described, success that went well over the top of what was required and bleak sleepless nights right after. I had days when I pictured myself crashing dead to the floor in the middle of a cheerful conversation with someone. Those terrible visions may not be cured by success, but they can be helped by other things. Talking to people, telling them how you feel. Many people are more interested to know and to help than you might think. Finding the things that bring you comfort and calm.

      One day I came up against a wall, where it was either chase that success at all cost or start to care for myself properly. And then I realised that the most important thing that I achieved was being alive.

      So I started to take care of how I was feeling, I paid attention to what calmed me when I was having a bleak day. I stopped thinking I was failing if I spent days just doing tiny things, instead giving myself kudos if I managed to take a walk or go for a swim, play with my cats, read a book, have a conversation with myself about what I was learning and how I was growing. I stopped putting other people’s expectations first and went with what made me feel better inside. It was, and is, a struggle, but now I have such long stretches of being okay that a difficult day is a surprise.

      I talked to other people about what was really happening in my head. I learned to say what I felt to people I didn’t feel I could tell that I loved them or that I missed them. It helped. It didn’t erase the depression. But it helped, and I am productive, and I’m beginning to be successful in a much more manageable way. You don’t have to give up on the drive to succeed just because it’s not the thing that will finally erase this complex you and bring a simple beam of light in its place. Embrace it because it’s a creative force, and find out what else helps you live.

      Be safe and keep talking to people. Please. I didn’t think I could make it here today but I did and you can, too.

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      Perhaps, but it was a big deal to a lot of us as kids, way before we knew about concepts like transmisogyny. Besides, most films are problematic in some way. Are we also not allowed to like/discuss those films, or people who are in some way associated with them?

      Can we not, with things like this in this thread? Can it just be a place to reflect on what Robin Williams meant to us? It reminds me of the people who are saying we have no place to be sad about it because an innocent black man was murdered by police this week. All things that are completely independent of one another.

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        Transmisogyny is not just a concept. Trans women experience it, and deal with it everyday. And have since childhood. Just because cis kids (including myself) might have enjoyed the movie without experiencing any discomfort or hurt doesn’t mean it was the same way for all kids.

        I think your reply was very dismissive. You’re allowed to like and discuss whatever films you’d like to. No one is stopping you. Pom is also allowed to make a really important and valid point, something that I’d like to think would be taken seriously here on AS.

        Pom’s point was completely appropriate for this thread, and just because someone has died doesn’t mean that their work is without criticism, or that their work is no longer hurtful or problematic.

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          I’m sorry that my comment came off dismissive. I admit that it came from a place of emotion. I had just read aboout his death and it hit me very hard, as a depression sufferer myself, and I just wanted a place to check in and read people’s nice memories, instead of the insensitive ways the media is treating it.

          Where did I say transmisogyny is *just* a concept? Of course I know it’s real, and I’m learning more about it each day. I would be very interested to read more about transmisogyny in movies! That’s why I come to AS. But I stand by my original point that this PARTICULAR post, about a very beloved figure – which the number of comments here testifies to – just seems pretty inappropriate to suddenly come in and be like “oh by the way, your fave was in a problematic movie”. I, for one, am remembering the person; the movie you refer to was only one of many that he was involved in.

          Checking out of this discussion now, and once again, I am sorry to anyone who was dismissed by my comment.

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        … really? you know, it is possible to like/discuss people and films, while still admitting they are problematic. instead of glamorizing and idolizing them. and like yeah I’m sure a lot of people enjoyed the movie as a kid, but nice way to disregard all of the trans women who have felt deeply uncomfortable/hurt by the movie.

  23. Thumb up 1

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    Just yesterday, a friend of mine mentioned me in a Facebook status saying she was watching The Birdcage, so I woke up to a slew of comments quoting the movie and it just made my Monday morning a little brighter.

    My Tuesday morning was a lot darker, knowing Robin Williams’s light had gone out.

  24. Thumb up 6

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    The takeaway: Incredible and hilarious people can be very sad and troubled and we should all take mental illness seriously BUT we should also celebrate the incredible light that came from a man so plagued by depression.

  25. Thumb up 2

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    Robin Williams was (is) the voice of my childhood.

    Whenever I am having a shit day, when something like a death or a loss happens, I always check out of my life for a few hours to watch “Aladdin”, because it never ever fails to make me laugh and to give me hope.

    I will do the same thing when I return home from work tonight, only this time it will not be able to stop the sadness, I fear.

    Thank you for making us laugh, Robin.

  26. Thumb up 1

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    I thought my friend was joking when she texted me about this yesterday. Today, I’m sad and still trying to process the fact that he’s gone. He was my childhood. Aladdin was the first movie I ever saw in a theater. My dad took me and it was raining and I had new slip on shoes and they got all wet and squishy. So many of my happy memories of times growing up with family and friends are tied up in watching his movies.

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    Something I’ve been thinking of since I heard this awful news: so many people of my generation, myself included, looked at Mrs. Doubtfire not just as a hilarious and delightful movie, but as one of the first kids movies about divorced parents. As one of the “first” kids in my class whose parents got divorced, Mrs. Doubtfire helped me feel just a little bit more normal and accepted. And obviously I wasn’t the only one.

    What a fucking tragedy.

  28. Thumb up 0

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    as so many others have said, Robins Williams death affected me in a way that really no other celebrity death has, like so many others I felt like I knew him, he shared so much of himself so freely with us. I grew up with him as a presence in my life, I probably saw aladdin before I have memories, I saw Jumanji in theaters, watched Good Will Hunting when I was homesick for Boston, Hook when I needed to believe, and his comedy skits when I needed to laugh. As others have said, we have laughed with him, cried with him, shared every facet of the human condition, without every meeting him

    I remember watching the academy awards a few years ago and realizing that he had a wife and kids that he had managed to keep out of the public eye. I have so much respect for him as a person as well as an actor. He openly talked about his struggles, kept his family life private, and helped cheer so many people from sick friends, soldiers, and the crew of schindler’s list. He was so immensely talented as an actor, comic, producer, It seemed he could do it all. I feel like its not real, like the force of so many people wanting it to be different could make it so. And it reminds me of a quote from one of my other favorite movies and favorite actors

    “I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone.”

  29. Thumb up 1

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    also, I think people are having really interesting conversations based on his death. I feel like usually with a celebrity death I find the tone is really disrespectful especially on the news. like “OOh lets talk about the drugs he might have taken or speculate why he could have killed himself since he’s so rich” and it just comes off as jealous and hurtful. But I think many people are having the reaction of sincere sadness and feeling like he was important in their life. I’ve heard a lot of really profound and informed discussion about mental illness today too, seemingly sparked by his passing.

  30. Thumb up 4

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    I always feel like I’m talking out of turn both in life and Autostraddle comments. Then again considering I’m still alive still after my brushes with death everything feels out of turn.
    Not sure if it was What Dreams May Come or The Birdcage that cemented my fanship of Robin Williams or how open he was about his struggles even cracking jokes about some of it like I used to do.

    When I tried to hang myself at the age of 18 the only part of me I ever loved, my ass, saved my life. It was so funny to me that I laughed/wheezed out loud strap still around my neck that my ass just saved me. It loved me too. Getting stuck in that ladder its was saying, “I love you, don’t do this.”

    Now all I can think about is where was your butt Robbie, the support in your life or had you gotten that good at convincing the people closest to you that you were fine. Maybe they got use to you being “off” and didn’t think twice.

    I want to think it is the first one because in my experience that’s what our kind do. We don’t want to be more of a bother than we already feel we are and we feel like we don’t deserve help anyway.
    If you’re out there anybody teetering on the edge get help, don’t wallow in the suffering or let it consume you. Life can be better than this and you deserve better.

  31. Thumb up 1

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    How about “One Hour Photo”? Not his most famous one, but absolutely amazing film.

    Also +1 for Mrs Doubtfire, with all due respect, this film makes me cringe now. I know it is not what the article is about, and I am not pointing the finger, just surprised it is given such unanimous praise.

  32. Thumb up 0

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    “Feelings Atrium”? My feeling is that I’m not liking the whole glib, shoutycaps, netspeak affect stuff, the stylized grief. Forget what he did for you. It’s not about you. He died, he was a man that died, who hung himself. We didn’t know him, not really. I feel that making a sort of half-ironic stage to perform grief re: this is wrong. But most of all, I’m dismayed because I value Autostraddle. I’m also managing long-term depression and have been affected by other people’s suicides. Suicide is a really visceral thing.

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