Larger-Than-Life Facts About Robin Williams, A Tormented Genius

April 26, 2022 | Miles Brucker

Larger-Than-Life Facts About Robin Williams, A Tormented Genius

With a career spanning decades, many of us grew up with Robin Williams. Whether it was Mork & Mindy, Dead Poets Society, or Jumanji, Williams’ frenetic charm and his ability to jump between the hilarious and the heart-wrenching made him an unforgettable part of our lives. When we lost Robin Williams, we lost a little bit of brightness in the world, but we’ll never forget the laughter and joy he brought us. However, there’s so much more to Williams’ story than his most memorable parts or his tragic end—and these facts are proof.

1. He Was A Poor Little Rich Kid

The bombastic Robin Williams we came to know and love was a far cry from the shy kid who grew up in Chicago. For one, Williams was a bit lost in his blended family—each of his parents had a child from a previous marriage. On top of that, both his mother and father worked hard to maintain the family’s affluence and privilege.

Williams was quiet and reserved as a child—but he soon figured out an easy shortcut to get the attention he desperately craved.

Happy Feet Two - European Premiere - Inside Arrivals.Getty Images

2. He Did It For Love And Attention

When he was still just a kid, Williams figured out that he could make his mother laugh to get her attention. Really, the rest is history. He soon became the class clown at school, and at home, he bonded with the family’s maid—often the only person around for him to talk to. But, at the same time, his bold sense of humor hid a well of pain.

The lack of attention from his parents hurt him much more than he let on—and as time passed, the pain only grew and intensified. Williams, however, was adept at hiding it.

FILE: Robin Williams Checks In To Rehab For AlcoholismGetty Images

3. He Had To Fight For Himself

Unfortunately, Willams’ father Robert’s job demanded more than just his time. When Robin was just 12, the whole family moved to Michigan for Robert’s work. Williams lost all his friends and had to start over again at a new school. While he built himself up again, eventually joining the wrestling and soccer teams and becoming class president, it didn’t come easily for him.

The other kids picking on him was a problem, as was a struggle with dyslexia. Williams fought for everything he got in school—an experience that would repeat itself when he got into the world of showbiz later on.

'One Hour Photo' Press Conference with Robin Williams. Headshot against red background.Getty Images

4. His Life Changed Overnight

Robin Williams had dealt with having his whole life upended before—so when his father decided to retire early and move the family to California, 16-year-old Robin took a deep breath and prepared for another struggle at a new school. But this time, he was in for a massive surprise. His new school was nothing like the stuffy private institution he went to in Michigan.

This was, after all, California in the 60s. Williams even recalls having a teacher who dropped acid at work. The freeform environment was just what he needed, and he developed even more into the man we’d come to know from TV and movies.

35th Annual People's Choice Awards - ShowGetty Images

5. He Changed Lanes

By the time he graduated high school, Robin Williams had established himself enough for his classmates to vote him “Funniest,” as well as “Least Likely to Succeed.” It was clear that he had a gift for making people laugh—however, it hadn’t quite clicked that he could make a career out of it. Williams enrolled in a nearby college to study political science, but before long, he had no choice but to face the facts.

After just a few months, he dropped out to pursue acting. His hopes were high—but he had little idea what he was in for.

Robin Williams factsGetty Images

6. He Got A Huge Opportunity

After three years of studying acting at a community college, Williams got an opportunity that many dream of, but few get to fulfill. In 1973, he got a full scholarship to the Juilliard School—just one of 20 students that the advanced drama program accepted that year. He was among classmates like Kelsey Grammer, Frances Conroy, and Christopher Reeve (who would go on to become a lifelong friend).

It was the chance of a lifetime—but his path at the school wasn’t always an easy one to walk.

Reeve & Williams At People's Choice Awards.Getty Images

7. They Didn’t Know What To Do With Him

When Robin Williams arrived at Juilliard, both classmates and staff had no idea what to make of him. As Reeve said, “I’d never seen so much energy contained in one person.” His ability to immediately nail accents blew away his voice and speech teacher, while his nonstop flood of jokes frustrated other instructors. They began to doubt that there was more to him than just comedy—but he had an ace up his sleeve.

Robin Williams factsWikimedia Commons

8. He Blew Everyone Away

When Robin Williams got a part in a Juilliard production of a Tennessee Williams’ play, both instructors and classmates had their doubts that he’d be able to pull off a serious role without cracking a joke. Well, when the play opened, they got the surprise of a lifetime—Williams totally nailed the part, with Reeve saying the performance left him “astonished.”

John Houseman had been the one who accepted Williams into the school. Now, he realized he had to sit down with Williams and have a very unexpected conversation.

Robin Williams factsGetty Images

9. They Told Him To Leave

John Houseman, a veteran actor and producer, was a man who knew what he was talking about. After all, in 1973, he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Three years later, Houseman sat Williams down and gave him some surprising advice. He told Williams that he’d already learned everything he could at the school. And so, Williams dropped out of Juilliard in his junior year.

It was time to see how far his talent would take him in the real world.

Robin Williams factsWikipedia

10. He Left It All Behind

Juilliard had been a rigid space with a classical training style, which never suited Williams particularly well. Harkening back to his exciting move to California as a teen, the now 25-year-old went to San Francisco in 1976. Though a far cry from its hippie heyday, San Francisco still had the same free-wheeling attitude.

Here, Williams honed his stand-up—but not for too long.

Spookiest Places On Earth factsWikimedia Commons

11. He Began Experimenting

Williams quickly grew out of the San Francisco stand-up scene and took his act down the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles. There, he became acquainted with the city’s dark side all too quickly. If San Fran was all flowers and free love, Los Angeles was sex, drugs, and rock and roll—and Williams, in particular, got into the second one.

Still, while there was dabbling, it wasn’t getting in the way of his career...yet.

Robin Williams factsGetty Images

12. He Got An Unusual Part

It didn’t take long for a TV producer to notice Williams during one of his many stand-up sets. After a few bit parts, Williams got a cameo on Happy Days as a visiting alien named Mork. Had any other actor taken the quirky part, it likely would’ve been immediately forgotten—but Williams made a serious impression on both TV execs and audiences, and it became his big break.

Mork & Mindy.Getty Images

13. His Show Was A Hit—Until It Burned Out

The spin-off sitcom Mork & Mindy, starring Williams as the alien Mork and Pam Dawber as his roommate and friend Mindy, was a massive hit and aired from 1978 to 1982. Well, at least it was a massive the beginning. As the show changed its focus from Mork's attempts to fit in on Earth to the budding romantic relationship between the titular characters, the ratings took a dive.

Williams skillfully rode this wave of TV highs and lows—and offscreen, things were just as tumultuous.

Robin Williams Displaying Hairy Hand.Getty Images

14. He Got To Know The Dark Underbelly Of The Comedy World

The success of Mork & Mindy gave Robin Williams a lot more opportunities in the stand-up world, including a string of HBO specials. But, while filming a sitcom demanded a regimented lifestyle, the world of comedy clubs only provided Williams more opportunities to use the hard stuff. While he’d rarely do anything of the sort before a show, he’d often chase a successful set with a big night out. And substance use wasn’t the only problem lurking in the shadows.

Happy Days factsMork & Mindy (1978–1982), Paramount Television

15. He Felt The Pressure

While stand-up gave Williams an outlet for his manic energy and the hit of satisfaction that only a laughing crowd could provide, it was also a brutal dog-eat-dog world—and Williams had to face the worst of it. Other comedians complained that he stole their jokes, and eventually, Williams had to stop going to others’ performances to avoid the accusations.

But, despite the many downsides, there were also some advantages…

Robin Williams performs at the Universal Amphitheater on July 1, 1979.Getty Images

16. He Found Love

Williams found fulfillment, excitement, and tension in the LA comedy scene—but he also found romance, with fellow comedian Elayne Boosler. The pair lived together just as Williams’ career took off. Sadly, the relationship wasn’t as successful as their careers—but when they broke it off, it didn’t take too long for Williams to mend his heart.

Robin Williams factsGetty Images

17. He Rebounded Quickly

While Williams and Boosler had a lot in common, there was another woman in the back of Williams’ mind that he’d never forgotten. He’d met Valerie Velardi in 1976 back in San Francisco, when she was working her way through school as a waitress. By 1978, they were back together in a big way—and it came with a seriously drastic decision.

Robin Williams factsGetty Images

18. He Jumped In

Not long after they got together, Williams popped the question. In June of that year, they tied the knot in a lavish affair. It was a big decision and one that came just as Williams became an overnight success. There was an immense amount of pressure on the relationship—and that wasn’t the only storm it would have to weather.

Robin Williams factsGetty Images

19. His Life Changed All At Once

The one-two punch of Mork & Mindy and his stand-up specials had made Robin Williams one of the most famous men in Hollywood just at the moment he’d tied the knot with his first love—a recipe for disaster. Female fans were showering him with attention, and he wasn’t always great at turning them away. Still, Velardi was determined to make the union work…but Williams didn’t always make it easy for her.

Mindy Kaling FactsGetty Images

20. He Flopped Hard

Mork & Mindy and stand-up already occupied a large proportion of Williams’ time—and now, movie producers were hoping to lure him to the big screen. They put it all on the line for his feature film starring role in 1980’s Popeye—only to face a major disappointment. The film was a complete and total flop. For many budding young stars, this type of failure would spell disaster—but not every young star is Robin Williams.

Film - Popeye - Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall.Getty Images

21. He Came Close To The Edge

In 1982, Williams put it all on the line again for a starring turn in The World According to Garpbut behind the scenes, he was in the middle of a living nightmare. Williams had forged a close friendship with fellow comedian John Belushi. The pair bonded over their careers, as well as over what came with it—namely, drinking and substance use. That is, until the night they took it too far.

Robin Williams factsThe World According to Garp (1982), Warner Bros.

22. He Lost A Close Friend

Late one night in 1982, Belushi was holed up in his room at the Chateau Marmont with a woman, Cathy Smith, who’d been acting as his dealer. Robin Williams—among others—dropped by for a line or two, only to get weirded out by Smith and leave. The next afternoon, Williams got devastating news. Belushi had passed at some point during the night of an overdose.

Robin Williams was devastated by the loss—but he also had to face the facts that their roles just as easily could’ve been reversed.

John Belushi FactsGetty Images

23. He Had To Face The Music

The loss of his close friend was a harsh and brutal wake-up call for Robin Williams. He had to face that his relationship with drinking and illicit substances had gone off the rails, and soon after, Williams quit both cold turkey. He looked for healthier coping mechanisms, and found some in running and cycling. However, while he may have replaced one habit for another, it didn’t mean that he gave up all his vices…

Cycling : Tour De France 2002.Getty Images

24. Their Marriage Had Big Problems

In 1982, amid rumors of infidelity, Valerie Velardi gave an extremely candid interview to Rolling Stone where she revealed her marriage’s deepest, darkest secrets. Velardi confessed that it wasn’t one woman who was the problem—but instead, the scores of women who wanted a piece of Williams’ time. Velardi said she wasn’t sure if anything intimate had happened with them, but that she did her best not to let jealousy affect the relationship.

It was clear that she was putting up a fight for the marriage—but as we’ll see, every person has their limits.

Robin Williams factsGetty Images

25. He Became A Father

There was one bright spot in Williams and Velardi’s tumultuous relationship during this period. In 1984, Velardi gave birth to the couple’s son Zachary. Velardi’s pregnancy was one of the reasons why Williams had quit drinking and partying, and Zach’s birth only confirmed that he’d made the right decision. At first, it seemed like Zach had healed this warring couple—but as too many families know, it takes more than a baby to fix a relationship.

Robin Williams factsGetty Images

26. He Kept Some Bad Habits

Having patience is one thing, but watching as your lothario husband does whatever he wants for days or weeks on end from the sidelines is another. Taking care of the baby at home made Williams’ womanizing ways hurt even more for Velardi. Sadly, he had even more indignity in store for her. In 1986, a cocktail waitress who claimed she’d had an affair with Williams came forward—and what she shared was shocking.

Robin Williams factsGetty Images

27. His Affair Rocked The Tabloids

Michelle Tish Carter not only claimed that she’d carried on a two-year affair with Williams, but that he’d also given her herpes. The way it all came out only made things worse—Carter filed a $6.2 million lawsuit against Williams for damages in 1988. While Velardi had been able to accept that some infidelity might be part of their lives because of Williams’ fame, this seemed to be the last straw.

Robin Williams factsGetty Images

28. They Called It Quits

In 1988, after nine years of marriage, Williams and Velardi separated, splitting custody of Zachary—but there was far more to the situation than meets the eye. Soon after the separation, Williams began living with another woman. Her name was Marsha Garces, and she’d actually been Zach’s nanny for a couple of years before Williams had made her his secretary. It was, to say the least, not a good look.

Robin Williams factsShutterstock

29. They Were In Denial

The timing of it all caused speculation that Williams had also carried on a long-term affair with Garces. However, both parties denied that anything romantic had transpired before Williams’ separation. Well, it got even more complicated from there. When asked if they’d talked about divorce, both Williams and Velardi claimed they hadn’t talked about it.

This was despite the fact that he was already living with another woman, who he fully confessed to being in love with! Stars…they’re not like us.

Robin Williams factsShutterstock

30. He Moved On Quickly

Eventually, Williams and Velardi were able to face the facts and get on with divorce proceedings. Some news that perhaps pushed them toward this conclusion was Garces’ announcement that she was pregnant. Within a year, Williams went from married to divorced to married again, this time to Garces. But this time around, it seemed like Williams had learned a lesson.

Robin Williams factsShutterstock

31. He Quit His Womanizing Ways

The drama and tumult of the lawsuit and his alleged affair with Marsha Garces acted as another wake-up call for Robin Williams. When he spoke to People that year, he made a devastating revelation about his past behavior with women. Williams said, “I was addicted to women […] Looking back, I find it humiliating. Degrading. I’m ashamed”.

At this point, the scrutiny on him was greater than ever—and while that meant that the pressure was on, he at least had something exciting to thank for it.

Robin Williams factsFlickr, Images Alight

32. He Finally Found His Big Hit

Good Morning, Vietnam was the movie that put Robin Williams on the map as a film actor—but it almost didn’t happen. After first being developed in 1979, studios passed the film around for many years before it finally landed in Williams’ lap. After reading the script, he realized the movie would be the perfect platform for him to show the world what kind of range he was capable of.

And boy, was he ever correct.

Robin Williams factsGetty Images

33. He Was A Bona Fide Movie Star

Good Morning, Vietnam was a great vehicle for Williams, who ad-libbed all of his character’s radio monologues. It became one of the highest-grossing films of the year, and it also netted Williams his first Academy Award nomination. While he didn’t get the Oscar, he did get a Golden Globe and a score of other awards. Finally, after seven years of acting in middling films, Williams had proved himself as a leading man capable of bringing in the box office receipts that studios wanted.

Williams had it all: celebrity, success, and a wife and kid with another on the way. But, as we’ll see, the more that a person has, the more he has to lose…

Robin Williams Films factsGood Morning, Vietnam (1987), Touchstone Pictures

34. He Made Hit After Hit

After the success of Good Morning, Vietnam, Williams had a lot more creative freedom in his career, and he used it to take on more dramatic roles like the one in Dead Poets Society. But he also found his niche in films that would attract a younger audience, like Hook, Aladdin, and Mrs Doubtfire—the type of movies that burned his voice and presence into the hearts of an entire generation. But even as a megastar, he didn’t always have it easy…

Comedy Films factsMrs. Doubtfire (1993), Twentieth Century Fox

35. He Made The Best Of It

Some sets are more copacetic than others—but the set of Hook was a complete disaster. The cast of young stars ran roughshod over director Stephen Spielberg, who famously feuded with Williams’ co-star Julia Roberts, and the film went way over schedule. But ultimately, both Williams and Spielberg got a great friendship out of it.

When Spielberg later made Schindler’s List—which was, as you can imagine, a depressing task—Williams would regularly call him to lift his spirits. In fact, if you were a friend in need in the 90s, you definitely wanted Williams by your side…

Roberts, Spielberg, Williams Watch Dailies on 'Hook' Set, 1991.Getty Images

36. He Witnessed A Terrible Tragedy

Long after their days learning the craft at Juilliard, Williams remained friends with Christopher Reeve, best known for 1978’s Superman. Sadly, in 1995, Reeve was paralyzed after a horseback riding incident. For a man who’d spent most of his career playing a superhero, it was a brutal shock—and Williams quickly realized that he needed to step up for his friend.

However, his approach wasn’t what we’d call therapeutic…

'Magical Birthday Bash' to Benefit The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.Getty Images

37. He Played An Epic Prank

Not long after the accident, Reeve got a visit at the hospital from an eccentric Russian man claiming to be a proctologist, who said he wanted to do a rectal exam on him. Of course, it was all a ridiculous prank by Williams—but as Reeve later shared, there was a heartbreaking side to it. Reeve claims this was the first time he laughed following the accident, and that it prevented him from sinking into a deep despair.

Sure, strange method—but hey, whatever works!

Christopher Reeve FactsGetty Images

38. He Wanted Something His Kids Would Remember

Williams had two children with Marcia Garces, Zelda (named after the video game character), and Cody. As a dedicated father of three, the idea of appearing in children’s movies appealed more and more to Williams. The Disney Renaissance was in full swing—but Williams had a major bone to pick with them. He objected to the fact that they used their movies to sell toys to kids.

Disney, on the other hand, was willing to do anything to get him to the voice of the genie in their adaptation of Aladdin, so they pulled out all the stops.

Robin Williams factsAladdin (1992), Walt Disney Pictures

39. He Made A Deal With The Devil

In order to woo Williams for the role of the genie in Aladdin, Disney animated and lip-synced the genie performing against a vocal track of Williams' own stand-up comedy. Williams was so impressed that he signed on immediately—with one caveat. He took a pay cut on the condition that the studio not use his name or image for marketing. This was also partially because he had another kids’ movie, Toys, coming out at the same time.

Well, Disney ultimately went back on both promises—and Williams was furious.

Actor Robin Williams dancing with 'Ghost from the lamp' mascot.Getty Images

40. They Betrayed Him

While Disney didn’t use Williams’ name in the advertising for the film, they did use his voice and character for toys and fast-food tie-in deals. They also didn’t pay him any additional money for this. It soured Williams’ experience on the film and his relationship with Disney—and what happened next didn’t make things any better.

Robin Williams factsAladdin (1992), Walt Disney Pictures

41. His Talent Had A Downside

Aladdin was, of course, a huge hit and an instant classic. People loved it so much that it generated instant Oscar buzz, and Williams’ unforgettable performance was an integral part of it all. Williams actually improvised most of Genie’s lines—but sadly, this had an unfortunate side effect. As a result, the Academy rejected the Aladdin script as a candidate for the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Ouch.

Eventually, they’d come to realize their mistake…

Robin Williams factsAladdin (1992), Walt Disney Pictures

42. He Went Method

One of Williams’ most-beloved movies was Mrs Doubtfire—but few knew the lengths that Williams went to while making the film. To test out his Euphegenia Doubtfire costume, Williams wore it and walked into a sex shop. He managed to ask the clerk some very specific questions involving a double-headed implement before they realized who he was and kicked him out. However, he did manage to successfully purchase scented lube. However, it wasn’t all fun and games on the sets of his films…

Robin Williams FactsGetty Images

43. He Touched A Lot Of Lives

It was clear that Williams wanted his movies to make a difference in the lives of children—and there’s nowhere that was more clear than on the set of Patch Adams. In the film, where Williams plays a doctor-in-training who wants to bring laughter and hope to his treatment of patients, the Make-A-Wish foundation was heavily involved.

Williams and the entire cast made it a point to work and spend time with several sick children. These children would end up in the film as the kids Adams interacts with in the pediatric ward scenes. While the film wasn’t a hit with critics, he eventually got his due.

Robin Williams factsGetty Images

44. His Spontaneity Created Iconic Moments

Few expected a low-budget film written by two unknowns to make much of a splash—but when Good Will Hunting came out, it was an instant success, in part because of Robin Williams’ contributions. For example, Williams ad-libbed the whole scene where he describes his wife’s gas. That’s why Matt Damon is laughing so hard. Also, if you pay attention, you can notice the camera shake…perhaps because the cameraman is also laughing.

And finally, it was time for Williams to be recognized for his work.

Berlin Film Festival. Good Will Hunting Movie Scene.Getty Images

45. He Finally Got His Due

You know what they say…the third time's the charm. After two failed Oscar nominations, Robin Williams finally won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting. His speech was touching and warm…and at the same time, completely fitting. As Williams himself put it, “This might be the one time I'm speechless”.

It was one of the high points of his career—and the next few years were filled with more hits and more accolades.

Robin Williams factsGetty Images

46. He Was Having Trouble

It seemed like Robin Williams was unstoppable—but behind the scenes, he was hiding a dark secret. Since losing his friend John Belushi in the 80s, it felt like Williams had used his touching roles in kids' movies and cathartic parts in dramas as a form of therapy. He kept up a frenetic pace, between acting, charity work, exercise, and his family life. Finally, it all caught up to him and he relapsed.

Robin Williams factsPicryl

47. He Fell Into Old Habits

In 2003, Williams began drinking again. While it seemed like he could keep it under control at first, he eventually had to face a harsh truth. In 2006, he checked into rehab in Oregon for his drinking. It was a brave move, but it may have come too late.

Robin Williams factsWikimedia Commons

48. He Leaned On Her Alone

For nearly two decades, Williams and his wife Marsha Garces had a relationship that went beyond husband and wife. As those around them shared, she was his partner and the mother to his children, but she also helped with his career, acting as “secretary, advisor, [and] hostess” as well. They even formed a production company together. Williams’ relapse, however, put a strain on their marriage—and the consequences were devastating.

NBC Celebrates 'Saturday Night Live: 15th Anniversary Special'.Getty Images

49. They Split Up For Good

By 2007, people began to notice that Williams and Garces weren’t together as much. Then, in 2008, Garces filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. The split devastated Williams. After all, he’d never really been alone before—and, while he didn’t plan for things to roll out the way they did, he again wouldn’t be alone for very long.

Robin Williams factsShutterstock

50. He Found Love In A Peculiar Place

You know what they say—it happens when you least expect it. And there are probably very few people who expect to fall in love at the Apple store…but that’s where Robin Williams met his third wife in 2007 before his divorce from Garces was even final. A woman named Susan Schneider spotted Williams there and decided to approach him and say hi.

It was a bold move—and it paid off.

Robin Williams factsShutterstock

51. The Third Time Seemed To Be The Charm

Before long, Williams and Schneider began dating. Then, they moved in together, with Schneider bringing along her two sons from a previous marriage. Finally, in 2011, they made things official and tied the knot. After a terrible few years marked by a bad relapse and divorce, it looked like Williams had finally found happiness again.

Sadly, their honeymoon period would be far too short.

Robin Williams factsShutterstock

52. He Was Suffering

Just two years into Williams’ marriage to Schneider, he began to experience worrying symptoms. It began with stomach issues before devolving into trembles and insomnia. The symptoms—or perhaps the underlying cause—began affecting Williams’ mental health, and he became anxious and paranoid. It was clear that something terrible was going on…but no one could figure out what it was.

Robin Williams factsFlickr, Veni

53. He Had A Mystery Illness

Just when doctors could attribute his symptoms to a particular illness, some of those symptoms would disappear and others would pop up. Despite what he was going through, Williams kept working at a breakneck pace. After all, performing and making people laugh had always helped him feel better in the past. But Williams was no longer the young man he’d once been, and the combination of his illness and his busy schedule began to wear on him even harder.

Robin Williams factsShutterstock

54. He Was Deteriorating

Williams, his wife, and his doctors worked hard to figure out what was wrong with him. Finally, after a year of questions and few answers, doctors settled on a devastating diagnosis. They believed that he had the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, a brain disorder that causes shaking, stiffness, and difficulties with movement.

Now that they had a diagnosis, Williams’ family hoped they could find a treatment to help Robin—but it wouldn’t be so easy.

Robin Williams factsShutterstock

55. He Was Losing The Thing That Defined Him

Williams’ quick wit, intelligence, and rapid-fire joke-telling had defined not only his career, but his life. Now, due to his illness, his brain wasn’t firing on all cylinders. He had to search for words, and nothing came as quickly to him. To say it was heartbreaking would be a massive understatement. In June of 2014, he went back to rehab—not because he was drinking, but because he and his family hoped it would help him get back to himself.

Sadly, the deterioration was quick and unrelenting.

Robin Williams factsShutterstock

56. He Was Acting Strange

Williams did his best to cope with the worst of his symptoms—but in particular, fear and paranoia began to overtake him. One night in August of 2014, Williams began to fret about his collection of watches, and called a friend to ask if they could keep an eye on them. Williams took them out of his safe, put them in a sock, and drove them to his friend’s home.

His friend accepted them—not knowing it would be the last time he saw Williams alive.

Robin Williams factsShutterstock

57. It Overwhelmed Him

Perhaps due to his troubling insomnia, Williams and Schneider kept separate bedrooms. On the morning of August 11, 2014, Schneider remembered seeing Williams’ door closed that morning and hoping that it meant he’d slept well. Later, when he didn’t get up, she went to his room and found that he'd hanged himself. Trapped with a mind that was filled with fear, anxiety, depression, and paranoia, Williams had taken his own life.

The world had lost one of its greatest lights—and the aftermath was as heartbreaking as the tragedy.

Robin Williams factsShutterstock

58. He Was Universally Beloved

In the wake of Robin Williams’ passing, tributes poured out from fans, friends, and co-stars—as well as stories that those close to him had kept hidden for years. One of his Mrs Doubtfire co-stars revealed how he’d saved her hide during her school years. Lisa Jakub, who played Lydia Hillard, was expelled from her school after she spent too long on the set of Mrs Doubtfire. Williams reacted by sending an amazing and critical missive to the school's administrator. In it, he wrote that "a student of her caliber and talent should be encouraged to go out in the world and learn through her work.”

While the letter didn’t work in Jakub’s favor, she shared that the experience of Robin Williams standing up for her became a formative experience that shaped her for years afterward.

US-ENTERTAINMENT-FILM. actor Robin Williams (R) posing before a premiere of 'Mrs Doubtfire'.Getty Images

59. He Was Always Helping Those Around Him

Everyone knows that Robin Williams had struggled with substance misuse and depression prior to his passing, but most people don't know that Bradley Pierce, one of his child co-stars from Jumanji, credited Williams with saving his life. He said that Williams had been a constant source of inspiration, motivating Pierce to talk openly about his own struggles with depression.

But some of the most touching tributes to Williams came from those closest to him.

Robin Williams factsGetty Images

60. People Went For His Daughter

Williams’ last post on social media celebrated his daughter Zelda on her 25th birthday. After his passing, Zelda posted a touching tribute to her father on Twitter, quoting French poet Antoine de Saint-Exupery, and writing “I love you. I miss you. I'll try to keep looking up". Sadly, she had to face an unexpectedly brutal reaction. While most reached out to express their sympathy, a number of users began to harass her with gruesome Photoshopped images of her father, ultimately causing her to temporarily leave Twitter.

Sadly, Zelda was experiencing this while simultaneously searching for answers that would help her understand her father’s sad end.

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61. They Finally Got Answers

In the wake of Robin Williams’ passing, those closest to him wanted answers—and his wife wanted to know why he’d suffered so terribly in his final years. When doctors performed an autopsy, they made a chilling discovery. Williams’ problems hadn’t been due to Parkinson’s. Instead, they found a massive number of abnormal particles, called Lewy bodies.

When Schneider did more research, what she found left her stunned.

Robin Williams factsShutterstock

62. She Didn’t Want Anyone Else To Suffer As He Did

The Lewy bodies, which cause a form of dementia called Lewy body dementia, had accumulated all throughout Williams’ brain and brain stem. It seemed as though Williams had Lewy body dementia all along—an illness whose symptoms include memory loss, hallucinations, insomnia, and other symptoms that can be confused for Parkinson’s.

Armed with this information, Schneider has turned her grief into fierce resolve to raise awareness of the illness and correct misunderstandings about it.

Robin Williams factsGetty Images

63. His Family Got Into It

There are no happy endings in stories like these—but few could've predicted that Williams’ untimely passing would spark an ugly family feud. Despite Schneider’s clear dedication to Williams, his three children ended up in a brutal row with her over the actor’s estate. They threw around words like “greedy” before eventually settling.

It wasn’t pleasant—but it was nowhere near as surprising as the end to Williams’ long feud with Disney.

Jumanji FactsGetty Images

64. He Held A Grudge

Remember when Williams got into a feud with Disney after he discovered they were using his voice as the genie to sell Aladdin merchandise? They had actually breached his contract. He had told them: "I don't want to sell stuff. It's the one thing I won't do." To placate him, Disney went to extreme lengths. They actually sent him a Picasso painting, worth a hefty sum, where Picasso painted his self-portrait as Vincent Van Gogh.

Their expensive plan didn’t work, and Williams refused to work on the Aladdin sequel—although later, when Disney changed chairmen, Williams forgave them.

Robin Williams Films factsAladdin (1992), Walt Disney Pictures

65. They Made A Touching Tribute

Ultimately, after the death of Robin Williams, Disney made a final heartbreaking tribute to everyone's favorite genie. Eric Goldberg, the supervising animator of the genie in Aladdin, drew an image of the genie alongside a heartfelt message after Williams' passing. Disney CEO Robert Iger wrote on the illustration: “We’re deeply saddened by the loss of Robin Williams, a wonderfully gifted man who touched our hearts and never failed to make us laugh. An incredible actor and a comedic genius, Robin will always be remembered for bringing some of the world’s favorite characters to life, from his zany alien on ABC’s Mork & Mindy to the irascible genie in Disney’s Aladdin. He was a true Disney Legend, a beloved member of our family, and he will be sorely missed”.

RIP, Robin.

Robin Williams factsShutterstock

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22

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