Last Monday, my daughter and I were sitting in the living room, she on her laptop and me reading or playing a game, I don’t remember which. Then she says “Robin Williams died.” The news hit like a ton of bricks. I was dazed, confused, and saddened.
I hoped that it was a hoax (like Bill Cosby’s rumored death a few years ago). So I immediately checked the internet. The more I read, the sadder I got.
Suicide. Due to severe depression. A nasty arch-nemesis.
Robin in his Orkian uniform.
My first memory of Robin was on “Mork and Mindy”. One of the earliest life memories I have, actually. (I’m just old enough that it seemed like Robin always was and always would be around.) I was 5 when the show started and I don’t remember exactly when I started watching it. I do remember watching when it went into reruns. I watched a number of sitcoms, both old and new, and if I missed those it wasn’t a real big deal. I miss Mork & Mindy and it was “Oh no! I have to wait another 7 days (or) 23 1/2 hours until it’s on again! Heavy sigh!”
I’ve kind of viewed him as a distant, crazy, but lovable uncle.
I was a big fan of the show. While The Dick Van Dyke show is my favorite sitcom, Mork & Mindy is tied in second place with The Cosby Show as my second favorite. Back when I watched the reruns, I was visiting one of my happiest types of stores (BOOKS!) when I came across the novelization of the pilot episode of Mork and Mindy. I snatched it up and read it in just a couple days, It was hilarious to read, and funnier to watch.
The show probably also helped me be more interested in how and why people behaved the way they do. At the end of every episode, Mork would telepathically report back to his boss, Orson on the planet Ork about what he had learned about Earthlings that week.
A couple of my personal favorites are “Mork’s Greatest Hits” where Mork deals with the town bully:
And when Mork naively joins racists in “The Night They Raided Mind-ski’s”
Since that sad Monday, I have watched a lot of the show again. Sad to say that I had not watched the show in several years, but when rewatching it, it made me feel like a kid again, remembering characters and catchphrases (“KO”, drinking with his finger, and Mearth! RIP Mr. Jonathan Winters! Also Tom Poston !). And it surprised me how much I remembered as an episode would start rolling.
Other memories were watching Aladdin. When I first met (face-to-face) my future ex-husband in the mid 90s, we went to (what was then) Disney-MGM Studios and then to a special showing of Aladdin. Years later when it was released onto DVD, it was on our wedding anniversary, which also was the anniversary of our first date from the previous year. Had to buy it. It didn’t matter if we already had it on VHS.
Another memory was when I was playing Battlefield Vietnam on my computer. You had the option of putting mp3s in the game, so whenever I turned on the in-game radio, it would play whatever I put in the game. Somewhere along the line I had downloaded all the bits of Robin behind the mic from “Good Morning Vietnam”. For some reason, there was no noise when playing it in-game. I had turned up the volume rather loud and didn’t hear anything. So I thought “Okay, not working” and continued to play the game. Was in it a couple minutes when, all of a sudden I heard screaming through my earbuds “GGOOOOOOODDDD MOOOORRNNING VIETNAAAAAMMM!!!!“, and I almost fell out of my chair, both from shock and from laughing so hard.
The last thing I watched of his was when Pam Dawber guest star on “The Crazy Ones” just a few months ago. For some reason I had not gotten into watching the show but meant to, but when I happened to turn on CBS that night, and saw Pam and Robin in a scene, the kid in me just shouted for joy and I made my daughter watch it, and quickly explained the whole significance of them in a tv show together. Which was probably the reason why she told me about his passing.
A few years ago I was told by one doctor and two counselors that I showed signs of mild depression. Of which I don’t dispute. While I have never felt suicidal, I have had plenty of moments of feeling like “things don’t really matter. why bother even trying? It’s just a waste of time”. I have done better recently. But I have felt for many years that loving to laugh which began with Mork and Mindy, the Peanuts comics, and the Dick Van Dyke Show when I was a little kid, to later becoming a fan of just about every classic comedian from Charlie Chaplin to the Smothers Brothers (especially Charlie and Tom & Dick), protected me from going to those type of deep black holes of despair that Robin had trouble escaping.
My copy of the Mork and Mindy book published 1979 that I’ve had for about 30 years. And the most recent issue of Time, a cover that I was hoping not to see for at least 20 years :'(
Hello, Mr. Williams.