On-screen, Robin Williams was an extremely talented comedian and actor, whose work is loved by millions of people. Off-screen, he was a selfless and caring human being that helped those in need, be it homeless people or children with cancer. And he managed to do this despite all the hardships that life threw at him.
We at iBuzz would like to honor the memory of Robin Williams by remembering what a kind and compassionate human being he was.
1. He helped homeless people.
According to Brian Lord, a man who once wanted to book him for an event, Robin Williams had a requirement in his rider that said that every company that hired him, also had to give jobs to homeless people.
Along with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal, he also managed to raise more than $70 million for the homeless through Comic Relief, a televised fund-raising event.
In 1990, he testified before Congress about preventing homelessness. His speech was in support of an act that would provide homeless people with mental health services and housing. He said, “You can’t keep picking people up, you have to stop them from falling. That’s what I hope.”
2. He was there for Christopher Reeve during hard times.
Robin Williams and Christopher Reeve, who is best known for playing Superman, first met in college, and their friendship withstood the test of time. After Christopher Reeve had an accident that paralyzed him, Robin Williams supported his friend and cheered him up. It was actually Williams who made Reeve laugh for the first time since the accident, when he came to visit him at the hospital. He was also involved in The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, which is dedicated to curing spinal cord injuries.
3. He raised awareness for sick kids.
Robin Williams was a supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, whose mission is to find cures and prevent cancer and other life-threatening diseases in children. He spent his time with patients, entertaining them, and making them smile and laugh. “He made us feel like we were the superstars,” said one of the kids’ moms. He also participated in various celebrity events that supported the cause of the hospital and starred in their commercials.
4. He performed for the US military.
After Robin Williams’ death, Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, said this about him: “From entertaining thousands of service men and women in war zones, to his philanthropy that helped veterans struggling with the hidden wounds of war, he was a loyal and compassionate advocate for all who serve this nation in uniform. He will be dearly missed by the men and women of DoD — so many of whom were personally touched by his humor and generosity.”
5. He stood up to corporate greed.
Robin Williams almost didn’t play Genie in Aladdin, because he didn’t want his voice and his likeness to be used to sell toys and merchandise to kids. He said, “The one thing I said was I will do the voice. I’m doing it basically because I want to be part of this animation tradition. I want something for my children. One deal is, I just don’t want to sell anything — as in Burger King, as in toys, as in stuff.”
He even passed on the rights to his name, signature, photograph, and likeness to the Windfall Foundation, a charitable organization. He made sure that there wouldn`t be any advertisements with him for 25 years after his death.
6. He lifted people up with his kindness.
“I was walking in New York at night and I see Robin Williams and a whole bunch of people getting his autograph. He signed gracefully, then took some photos with people. A guy in his 30s, a little overweight, comes and asks if Robin could please sign some memorabilia he had bought and saved for over 20 years, because Robin was his hero.
Then he asks if he can take a picture, Robin says, ’Sure, boss,’ and the guy takes a photo of just Robin and then Robin asks. ’Do you want to be in the photo?’ Then the guy looking down goes, ’Oh no, that’s fine…I…hehe…I’m ugly, I don’t want to ruin the picture,’ and then Robin says, ’Don’t be like that, come here,’ and takes a picture with the guy.” — F*GGAW*GGA / reddit
7. He could easily make friends with animals.
In 2001, Robin Williams met with Koko, a gorilla that understands English and can communicate using American Sign Language. The 2 bonded within minutes. They laughed, tickled, and hugged each other.
Robin Williams said, “I recently had a mind-altering experience communicating with a gorilla. We shared something extraordinary: Laughter. Koko understands spoken English and uses over 1,000 signs to share her feelings and thoughts about daily events, life, love, even death. It was awesome and unforgettable.”
Their friendship was so genuine that after hearing about Robin Williams’ death, Koko became very sad.
8. He stood up for his colleagues.
Lisa Jakub was a teenager when she played the role of Robin Williams’s daughter in Mrs. Doubtfire. Because of the filming process, Lisa’s teachers at school would have to give her an increased workload, and they weren’t happy about it. That’s why she was kicked out. Lisa was upset about it, and Robin Williams noticed this.
When she told him what happened, he wrote a letter to the school asking them to allow her to return to her classes and explaining that she was just trying to pursue a career, while also getting her education. He also said kind words about her character and her work. Unfortunately, the letter didn’t work, but the school framed it and hung it in the principal’s office.
9. He comforted Steven Spielberg during the filming of Schindler’s List.
Schindler’s List was a very emotional and difficult movie for Steven Spielberg to film. To cheer him up, Robin Williams would call Spielberg once a week and make him laugh. “Robin knew what I was going through, and once a week, Robin would call me on schedule and he would do 15 minutes of stand-up on the phone. I would laugh hysterically, because I had to release so much,” Spielberg said.
10. He could share a special moment with anyone, any time.
“When I was around 3, my father and I were in a waiting area at SFO. I started playing with another little boy and my dad realized Robin Williams was there and it was his son. My dad struck up a conversation about raising boys and the rollercoaster of feelings that is fatherhood. They shared a nice moment, human to human and father to father.” — greenbergz / reddit
“The year was 1998 when he filmed Patch Adams at UNC. His trailer was no more than 50 ft from the exit door of my office. I was always late to the office and was lucky enough to have several conversations with Mr. Williams after work while he sat on the brick wall near my building, after campus life calmed down. What a funny and joyful person! I remember that he once asked me what size wrench a quantum mechanic needed to screw things up.” — Jim Murrell / Facebook
“About 15 years ago, I needed to get a tiny needle removed from my tooth. The day after it was removed, a guy came, read a fairytale book, and signed it. It wasn’t until after Robin had passed that I learned from my parents who I met that day.” — HundredsOfSnow / reddit
“I met Robin Williams at Disneyland. He was behind me in line at the Tomorrowland Terrace, and I said “Hello, Mr Williams.” In a calm, low voice. And he said, “You’re doing it wrong,” and when I asked him, “What?” he launched into me with a hug and started yelling, “IT’S YOU! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S YOU!” — jlenney1 / reddit
What role did Robin Williams play in your life? Have you ever met him? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments!