The news about Robin Williams’s suicide was a shock to everyone, and I’ve been reading obits from all over the country about his life. But these two paragraphs in the Los Angeles Times stopped me:
Williams’ high-energy shtick may not have played before the Juilliard powers that be, but it was standing-room only in the school’s locker room, where other actors competed to keep up with his machine-gun wit.
Williams tried his hand at mime on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and improvised at comedy clubs around town. New York was true to its cold and lonely form, however, and Williams returned to San Francisco, without having graduated, to pursue a woman.
I grew up in Brooklyn, and used to sit on the steps of the Museum of Art where, occasionally, I would see a mime who took on the mannerisms of people who walked by him on the street. They never noticed that some guy in white face was trailing them. The act was done when the mime pretended to lasso a passing bus and get pulled away.
Is it possible I was watching a unknown future superstar?
I had to check when this was happening. And the Baltimore Sun posted this today:
The Juilliard School in New York, where Robin Williams studied in the mid-1970s (he withdrew in 1976 before completing the B.F.A. program) and where he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree in 1991, has issued this statement on the actor’s death:
The Juilliard community is deeply saddened by the death of our distinguished alumnus Robin Williams. Robin’s genius for comedic improvisation, which quickly surfaced in his studies at Juilliard, was matched by his deep understanding of the actor’s art and how to touch his audience in meaningful ways.
He was a generous supporter of the School’s drama students through the Robin Williams Scholarship, which supported the tuition cost of a drama student each year.
His caring ways and effervescent personality will be missed by all who were touched by this special person.