Editorial

Editorial: Robin Williams left us wanting more

Actor Robin Williams on the set of "Mork

Actor Robin Williams on the set of "Mork and Mindy" in April 1978. (Credit: AP / ABC)

It's as if we didn't realize how large a space Robin Williams occupied in our hearts until news of his death left them achingly empty.

Williams, 63, died Monday, apparently by his own hand. He was suffering from depression, and had been battling addiction since he relapsed in 2006 after 20 years of sobriety.

Williams was an artist like Angela Lansbury, perhaps, or Dustin Hoffman, who has done so much notable work that you don't even think about the breadth of the catalog until you try to recall it all. Williams began with "Mork and Mindy" and "nanu nanu," of course.


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"Mrs. Doubtfire" and "The Birdcage" would win if the category were "best Robin Williams comedies in which cross-dressing was integral to the plot." But everyone has different favorites. What about "Good Morning, Vietnam"? What about "Good Will Hunting," which won him an Oscar? And "Awakenings," "Aladdin" and "The Fisher King"?

Did we almost forget "Hook," "The World According to Garp" and "Night at the Museum"?

And there was his personal, political, frenzied comedy. For a time, Williams may have been the best stand-up comedian in the world.

What about the years of Comic Relief with pals Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg, raising money to help the homeless? What about the people they helped? And what about his commitment to entertaining our troops at home and abroad through the USO?

Williams' work spawned a lot of popular catchphrases, but perhaps the greatest, from "Dead Poets Society," is "Carpe diem," or "Seize the day." It was his character's advice to a class of prep school boys, and perhaps his most lasting wisdom for fans. Williams no longer felt he could seize the day.

Through his personal pain he crafted great work for us. And it is a tribute to his talent and gifts that while he gave all he had -- and that was so much -- it will never feel like enough.

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