January 11, 2018 | Mathew Burke

33 Little Known Facts about Robin WIlliams.


Known for his legendary improvisation skills, Robin Williams was one of the most beloved comedians of his time. Although he rose to fame as Mork on Mork & Mindy, he was more than just a funny man. He delivered widely-praised dramatic performances in “Good Morning, Vietnam,” “The Fisher King,” and “Good Will Hunting,” the last of which earned him the 1997 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Sadly, Williams took his own life after losing a lifelong battle against depression and Lewy body dementia. When we lost Robin, we lost a little bit of brightness in the world, but we’ll never forget the laughter and joy he brought us.

Here are some facts about America’s favorite alien: Robin Williams.


 33. What Did They Know?

Williams graduated from Redwood High School where he was voted “Least Likely to Succeed,” which begs the question: Why do they even have that award?!

Robin Williams

32. Fat Camp

Williams has claimed that, when he was a child, he was quite overweight and nobody would play with him. As a result, he would entertain himself by talking in different voices.

Robin Williams Childhood Photo

Robin Williams childhood photo… looks like he’s in good shape to me!

31. Interesting Advice…

When Williams began training at Julliard, he was told to focus more on his stand-up comedy than waste time in acting classes.

Williams and Reeves at Juliard

30. Strong, Silent Type

To make money, Williams would perform on the street outside of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art as a mime.

Robin Williams Mime

29. Geographically Challenged?

Early on his career, he told a reporter that he was born in Scotland. He later recanted that statement, claiming he was “under the influence” at the time. He was actually born in Chicago.

Scotland Robin Williams Lift

28. Alien Invader

Williams’ first big break was when he was cast as Mork the alien on Happy Days back in 1978 when this sort of plot device made sense. His character was spun off into the hit series Mork & Mindy.

Mork Robin Williams

27. Maybe We’re the Ones Who Are Upside Down

During his audition for the role of Mork, when the producers asked him to sit down for the interview, Williams sat on his head. He was hired immediately because, “He was the only alien who auditioned.”

Robin Williams Mork

26. Priorities

In the late 70s and early 80s, Williams was heavily addicted to cocaine and alcohol. It was the death of his close friend John Belushi and the birth of his oldest son that finally convinced him to quit.

Robin Williams

25. I Yam Who I Yam

His film debut was in Robert Altman’s disastrous Popeye, an ill-advised live action version of the comic strip that respected critic Leonard Maltin described as a bomb.

Popeye Robin Williams

24. The Gift that Keeps on Giving

During his first marriage, Williams had an affair with a cocktail waitress who sued him for giving her herpes. This incident lends credence to the mathematical formula: Tragedy + Time = Comedy.

Robin WIlliams Serious

23. This Never Would Have Happened With Mrs. Doubtfire

After he and his first wife got divorced, Williams married his child’s nanny, who was already several months pregnant with another of Robin’s children (Zelda). They remained married for 19 years before she filed for divorce.

Mrs. Doubtfire Robin Williams

22. Writing Skills

Williams was such a good improviser that the writers of Mork and Mindy would deliberately leave gaps in the screenplay for him to fill in.

Mork Nanu

21. Impressionists

Williams’ favorite celebrity to impersonate was Jack Nicholson. On the flip side, Williams said that Dana Carvey did the best impression of him.

Jack Nicholson

20. Superfriend

Williams and Superman actor Christopher Reeve became really good friends when they both attended Julliard. Williams claimed that Reeve was “literally feeding me because I don’t think I literally had money for food or my student loan hadn’t come in yet, and he would share his food with me.” Superman indeed.

Image: Comic Robin Williams smooches pal Christopher Reeve's head a

19. Laughter is the Best Medicine

After Reeve’s tragic equestrian accident left him paralyzed, Williams showed up at the hospital pretending to be an eccentric Russian proctologist who was going to perform a rectal exam on him. Reeve claims this was the first time he laughed following the accident, and that it prevented him from sinking into a deep despair.

Williams and Christopher Reeves

18. And the Oskar Goes To…

When Steven Spielberg was filming Schindler’s List, Williams would call and tell him jokes to try and lift his spirits because, apparently, the Holocaust is depressing.

Robin Williams and Steven Spielberg

17. Legendary Daughter

Williams’ daughter Zelda was named after the eponymous videogame character in the Legend of Zelda. It was Williams’ son Zachary who came up with the idea.

Robin Williams and his Daughter

16. Wish Granted

In order to woo Williams for the role of the Genie, Disney animated and lip-synced the Genie performing William’s stand-up comedy. Williams was so impressed that he signed on immediately.

Robin Williams Genie

15. Wish Denied

Williams improvised most of the Genie’s lines, which resulted in the Aladdin script being rejected by the Academy for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Genie Meme

14. Heeeeeeere’s Robin!

Williams was considered for the lead role in The Shining, but after seeing “Mork & Mindy,” Stanley Kubrick rejected the idea because Williams was “too psychotic.”

Robin Williams the Shining

13. Curses!

Williams invented the word “Shazbot,” an alien curse word uttered by Mork during the opening credits. The word has wound its way through popular culture, having found its way onto The Simpsons, the Tribes series of videogames, and as the last recorded words of AC/DC singer Bon Scott.

Shazbot

12. E’s Off the Twig

Williams was a huge fan of Monty Python and, after his death, one of the Python members, Michael Palin, paid tribute to Williams, saying that performing with him “would have been like being invited to play in a jazz band where you couldn’t play an instrument.”

Monty Python

11. Having a Ball

Robin was a big fan of cycling and trained with Lance Armstrong. He even rode shotgun in the Armstrong team car at a few of his races.

Robin Williams and Lance Armstrong

10. All Ears

Williams got into a feud with Disney after he discovered they were using his voice as the Genie to sell Aladdin merchandise, something he had told them he refused to do. To placate him, Disney sent him a Picasso painting, believed to be worth a million dollars, where Picasso painted his self-portrait as Vincent Van Gogh. Because when Disney apologizes, they apologize hard.

Aladdin Doll

9. Crystal Clear

Williams and good friend Billy Crystal appeared in an unscripted cameo at the beginning of an episode of Friends. They just happened to be in the building where the show was shooting and they improvised their entire scene.

Robin WIlliams Friends

8. Where’s the Beef?

Williams owned a vineyard in California. Joking about it, he said it was “weird,” like “Gandhi owning a delicatessen.”

Robin Williams Vineyard

7. Can’t Buy Me Love

While he earned only $75,000, the Screen Actor’s Guild minimum, for his voice work in Aladdin, a film that will be remembered forever, Williams also earned a whopping $20 million dollar paycheck for the 1999 movie Bicentennial Man, a movie that nobody remembers at all. There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere but we have no idea what it is.

Bicentennial Man

6. Laughing All the Way to the Bank

Williams once had two movies reach $100 million in box office receipts within the same week. The movies were “Jumanji” and “The Birdcage.”

Robin Williams Jumanji

5. For the Troops

Despite opposition to the war in Iraq, Williams was one of the most consistent entertainers for the U.S. troops since the war began, leading some people to christen him the new Bob Hope. Although perhaps Bob Hope was just the old Robin Williams.

US comedian Robin Williams stands among U.S. soldiers at Bagram airbase.

4. Have You Tried StubHub?

On a 2001 episode of “Inside the Actors Studio,” James Lipton interviewed Williams and asked what he would like to hear God say to him if he entered Heaven. His answer was: “There’s seating near the front. The concert begins at five, it’ll be Mozart, Elvis, and one of your choosing.”

Good Morning Vietnam Robin Williams

Robin wasn't just known for his wit, but also for his incredibly quotable commentary on the world. Check out these five incredible quotes by the late Robin Williams.

3. The Crowd Popped

Also, during Williams’ appearance on “Inside the Actors Studio,” he made an audience member laugh so hard that he gave them himself a hernia.

robin-williams-actors-studio

2. Not Empty-Handed

Williams decided to test the believability of his Mrs. Doubtfire costume by walking into a sex shop, dressed as the nanny, and buying something. He managed to ask the clerk some very specific questions involving a double-headed sex implement before they realized who he was and kicked him out. However, he did manage to successfully purchase scented lube.

Mrs. Doubtfire 2

1. Giving Back

Despite his fame, Williams always remembered how he struggled to achieve his successes so, to give back, he set up a scholarship fund for incoming Julliard students. One of its recipients was two-time Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain. “Robin Williams changed my life,” she said. “His generous spirit will forever inspire me to support others as he supported me. He will forever be missed.”

Robin Williams

Sources: 1 2 3 4 5 6

We hope you enjoyed these facts to commemorate the late Robin Williams. You can share with your friends by clicking below.


More from Factinate

Featured Article

My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.

Featured Article

Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.

More from Factinate

Featured Article

I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.

Featured Article

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.




Dear reader,


Want to tell us to write facts on a topic? We’re always looking for your input! Please reach out to us to let us know what you’re interested in reading. Your suggestions can be as general or specific as you like, from “Life” to “Compact Cars and Trucks” to “A Subspecies of Capybara Called Hydrochoerus Isthmius.” We’ll get our writers on it because we want to create articles on the topics you’re interested in. Please submit feedback to contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your time!


Do you question the accuracy of a fact you just read? At Factinate, we’re dedicated to getting things right. Our credibility is the turbo-charged engine of our success. We want our readers to trust us. Our editors are instructed to fact check thoroughly, including finding at least three references for each fact. However, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark. When we do, we depend on our loyal, helpful readers to point out how we can do better. Please let us know if a fact we’ve published is inaccurate (or even if you just suspect it’s inaccurate) by reaching out to us at contribute@factinate.com. Thanks for your help!


Warmest regards,



The Factinate team




Want to learn something new every day?

Join thousands of others and start your morning with our Fact Of The Day newsletter.

Thank you!

Error, please try again.