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A Serious Clown

by Tom King

As the world mourns Robin Williams this morning it should be mentioned that he lasted longer than many thought he would. In the world of TV, movies and comedy the survival rate from the late 70's wasnt great. And if you go back and look at pictures of those guys back in the day you can see the abuse that was going on. They look haunted...lack of sleep, drug and alcohol abuse and the pressure to remain funny and relevant in a society that so easily tosses out the old while looking for the next big thing. No question that Robin Williams was an original. Nobody had done what he did. Free association comedy at the speed of light...talk about working without a net. Did it all work...no..but when it did you were convulsed in waves of laughter. Garry Marshall, producer of Mork & Mindy, used an extra camera while filming just to follow Williams at all times...he didnt want to miss a moment of brilliance. And then he started throwing curves...serious roles in movies and tv...and he pulled them off. Still one of my favorite Williams roles was in the second season premiere of "Homicide:Life on The Street", Barry Levenson's great police drama set in Baltimore. Williams played the husband of a slain tourist and his performance was so devastating it won an Emmy. He reportedly was battling heavy depression at the time of his death. His last TV series was cancelled and who knows what part that played. We will have to make do with his large body of work...unfortunately that probably wont be enough for his family and friends.