Robin Williams took to the stage in Marin

08/14/2014

Robin Williams, the rambunctious, fast-talking comedian and Academy Award-winning actor, was found dead at his home in Tiburon on Monday morning after committing suicide by hanging himself. Beloved as a radio deejay on “Good Morning, Vietnam,” an English teacher in “Dead Poets Society,” Peter Pan in “Hook,” a nanny in “Mrs. Doubtfire,” the genie in “Aladdin” and a psychologist in “Good Will Hunting,” Mr. Williams got his acting start in Marin when his family moved to California when he was 16 years old. At Redwood High School, he joined the drama club and started acting, his way of coping with bullying from a previous school. “When I came to California to go to high school, it was 1969. I went to this gestalt high school, where one of the teachers actually took LSD one day,” he said. Senior year, his classmates voted him “funniest” as well as “least likely to succeed.” At College of Marin, after entertaining his fellow students with impromptu standup on the tables of the student union and acting in plays, he won a prestigious full ride to Juilliard School in New York City, and the undeniable smile he would put on your face was quickly noticed. Returning to Marin later in life, Mr. Williams was often seen biking—“mobile meditation”—and still telling jokes. “Robin’s gift could be likened to the fastest thoroughbred race-horse on earth. It had unbeatable endurance, nimbleness, and a huge heart,” his friend Peter Coyote wrote in the Bolinas Hearsay News. “Sometimes Robin would ride like a kayaker tearing down white-water, skimming on the edge of control. We would marvel at his courage, his daring, and his brilliance. But at other times, the horse went where he wanted, and Robin could only hang on for dear life. … We would be doing his life and memory a dis-service if we did not extract some wisdom from his choice, which, if we ponder deeply enough, will turn out to be his last gift. He would beg us to pay attention if he could.”