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Robin Williams, Oscar-Winning Comedian, Dies at 63 (nytimes.com)
293 points by kmod on Aug 11, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 63 comments

Crying. A terrible loss of a kind soul. My favorite story:

[Christopher Reeve's] approaching operation to reattach his skull to his spine (June 1995) “was frightening to contemplate. … I already knew that I had only a fifty-fifty chance of surviving the surgery. … Then, at an especially bleak moment, the door flew open and in hurried a squat fellow with a blue scrub hat and a yellow surgical gown and glasses, speaking in a Russian accent.” The man announced that he was a proctologist and was going to perform a rectal exam on Reeve. It was Robin Williams, reprising his character from the film Nine Months. Reeve wrote: “For the first time since the accident, I laughed. My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay.”

I only wish someone was there for him in his last moments. A horrible illness that is truly indiscriminate. RIP.

There are few actors whose passing would really sadden me. Whether it was Mork and Mindy from my childhood, his appearances on Whose Line Is It Anyway, shared by my kids and I, or the Genie from my kids' childhoods, he has been responsible for a lot of my favorite entertainment memories. Rest in peace, Mr Williams.

Far too many people are laughing on the outside to cover up the pain on the inside. I know I've done my share.

Yet more proof that depression (and mental illness in general) does not discriminate... When I think about the friends I've lost to suicide, the list includes one of the smartest people I've ever known, and someone who fits the description 'full of life' better than anyone I can think of... Now one of the funniest people the world has seen.

My thoughts and prayers are with Robin's friends and family. I hope they are able to find ways to celebrate his life, and aren't plagued by 'what ifs'. I also hope this pushes us just a little bit further down the road of reducing the stigma associated with depression...

Terribly sad. He sure was fun to watch. He must not have been very fun to be. I'm thankful for the decades he was able to cope and share with all of us.

I usually don't react to such things but Robin Williams is such a strong part of my childhood and youth. Jumanji, Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Flubber, Hook, Bicentennial Man, Good Morning, Vietnam, Good Will Hunting ... RIP mate, you've been integral to so many stories.

Mr Williams was the face of comedy for me growing up, as much as Jack Nicholson could be said to be "the face of evil".

I love the work done by Mr Williams and will be watching Mrs Doubtfire tonight.

I was watching The Daily Show with John Stewart a few weeks ago when he had Seinfeld on and Stewart said something that kind of hit home for me, he said something off-the-cuff to the effect that once Seinfeld left TV he was in people's hearts and minds but that once he (Stewart) left TV he would vanish from memory. It really struck a chord with me and made me want to send him even a brief written note. Comedians never vanish from memory. They are in our thoughts, our behaviours and mannerisms. We absorb the comedy we love and carry it with us, leaking it everywhere. I figured I should write to him, even if only so his secretary can filter it out for the trashcan. Everyone can use a pat on the back sometimes, even the people we look up to. I have resolved to write that note tonight.

So sad that depression can bring down someone as great as him.

His kids went to my school growing up, and I remember him picking them up and always being nice to us schoolmates and doing impersonations for us. He definitely seemed affable and happy then, but typically depression hides beneath the surface in a destructive isolated world.

Oh captain my captain. Rest in peace Robin Williams...

Quite that.

My first response to seeing this was just shock. Hearing NPR play a clip from Dead Poets Society was when my hair stood on end. The Fisher King and Good Will Hunting as well.

Oh man.

Very poignant... as he ended up going the way of Neil on DPS. Very sad day, -- Not too many actors I'd feel this upset about.. Tom Hanks would be another sad one to see go...

One of the funniest guys out there for a long, long time. It's hard to believe that someone with access to any type of help one could get could not find the help he needed.

Someone you grew up watching is no longer around. I'm really broken up about it.

There's an outstanding recent episode of Louis (Louis C.K.'s show) where Robin Williams is a guest. In the show they both attend a funeral for someone nobody liked because they feel obligated, and they talk a bit about life and death.

Definitely worth a watch, and very poignant in light of his suicide. RIP Robin.

RIP to an absolutely brilliant performer. His unique brand of madcap genius will never be duplicated, and he will be sorely missed.


"Sometimes you got to specifically go out of your way to get into trouble. It's called fun."

RIP, Robin.

I know I'm just another comment, but I'm too moved not to add my own goodbye. His work was inspirational and he's been one of my favorite professionals since childhood. Very sad to see that he's moved on, especially by his own choice.

May he rest in peace.

Just last night, I saw him in a 1977 Richard Pryor roast. Sad.


Somehow, and sadly, I wasn't surprised to learn the cause of death. To me Williams's jovial veneer never seemed very convincing. RIP to a gentle soul.

Tremendous talent, admirable range as an actor, and, most admirably, he seemed possessed of a genuine compassion for his fellow human beings. Certainly he'll be missed by those who knew him personally and through his work.

As a child of a parent who suffered from bipolar disorder, his death hits fairly close.

Goodbye, Robin, may all doors be open to you and all obstacles removed from your path.

So many of my favorite childhood movies involved him (still live watching Hook now and again). So sad and shocking.

Incredibly sad. Loved his performances. One awesome thespian in every way.

Alas, my secret wish, for a performance I wish he had given, but never did, will forever be only a wish now:

Khalil Gibran's The Prophet, Read by Robin Williams (in a voice from the Park Scene in Good Will Hunting).


A slightly longer piece on the subject, as well


What a filmography, going to be so hard to watch many of these ever again:


He even goes back to Laugh-In and Carson shows.

Another sad testament to one of the most overlooked illnesses in this country and the world for that matter. I don't want to parade one single suicide as cause for action, but something needs to change in this arena.

I may be jumping to conclusions here, but I wonder if depression was part of the issue for Robin Williams.

In our industry or technology, depression, burnout, mental illness are all areas I don't feel we deal with very well.

He has been struggling with depression and addiction for a long time. These kind of mental issues seem all too common amongst comedians.

Can you elaborate on the issue with comedians?

In this video a comedian talks about how he dealt with his daughter having cancer while appearing on the Tonight Show:


A lot of comedy comes from pain. I think Peter McGraw's benign violation theory partially explains this. According to McGraw's theory, humor comes from a "violation" or something negative that is made benign. Comedians learn to take the negative and transform it into something humorous.

People also say that many comedians have a more realistic view of the harshness of life. This reminds me of the quote from GK Chesterton, “Always be comic in a tragedy. What the deuce else can you do?"

A large number of comedians are depressed in real life, away from audiences and cameras. I met a relatively famous comedian and he was quite depressed, and definitely not the only one.

RIP Robin Williams

I've got a lot of respect for Maria Bamford for being so open about it. Also, she's funny as hell.


Man goes to doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel.

Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain.

Doctor says "Treatment is simple. A great clown, Pagliacci, is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up."

Man bursts into tears.

Says "But, doctor..."

"...I am Pagliacci."


This is sadly true all too often.

Just echoing other sentiments here - some of my most memorable childhood movies and times involved Robin Williams. His death is a loss to all of us.

this incidental interview with stephen fry and robin williams is kind of poignant, not in small part because of the difference in the exterior behavior of two interesting bipolar personalities and the way fry effortfully tries to forgive williams for his intrusions.


One of my favourite actors when I was growing up. Rest in peace Robin Willams.

A little bit of happiness has gone out of this world. RIP Robin Williams.

Sad and a memorable actor. From Awakenings to Mrs Doubtfire. Good range.

Nanu nanu.

Another addition to the painfully long list of tragic comedian deaths.

"I can't believe it, I'm losing to a rug."

RIP Robin Williams.

Really hackernews, keep it classy and don't mod this out.

Edit: classiness is in short supply.

Rest In Peace Mr Williams .. Bangarang!!

Don't throw stones on me, but... Why on HN?

(besides, I am as saddened as you are. I truly loved his as an actor and comedian - I just used his acronym scene from Good Morning Vietnam 4 days ago in a presentation I gave).

Depression is a fairly relevant topic for this audience (most audiences, really, but I've seen quite a bit of it in hackerdom, though I'm lucky enough to never have suffered from it myself in the clinical sense).

If that doesn't work for you, he was an avid gamer, often talking in interviews about his Doom, Quake, etc, playing back in the day and his daughter is named Zelda (after the game). That has to earn him some nerd points, right?

Because he was brilliant, witty and profoundly original. Smart people building shit care about all those things and the people who embody them.

Case in point, you used his content a few days ago.

His death is deeply saddening to me.

Man, can we quit frivolously downvoting people (when they aren't being jerks) in this thread? Robin Williams apparently committed suicide. We are going to honor his passing by crapping on people in the discussion about him? Seriously?

I just never understand and am always disgusted by the human habit of saying nice things of the dead, now that we can no longer actually do anything for them, and then turning around and being ugly to everyone within reach. We seem to mostly be nice when it no longer matters at all.

Just because it's Hacker News doesn't mean the only thing we care about is hacking.

Just because you care about something, it doesn't mean it belongs to hacker news. Otherwise, let the porn stuff begin.

HN is a community.

I heard about it in the car on a sports radio show. People were calling in to a sports show to talk about Robin Williams.

Sometimes the purpose of a community is not the thing it was formed for, but just to be a community.

Probably his proximity to the SF Bay area too. It was quite common to see him in San Francisco and I'm sure many of the posters on HN had crossed paths with him at one point or another.

Visiting California as a kid, one of only the things I distinctly remember is his trolls/stuffed-animals/dolls and silly-shit placed in his window facing the street.

What a guy.

Obviously enough HN readers find it interesting, in the same way that a lot of social justice articles or articles about San Francisco real estate prices are.

Because he likely had a positive impact on you and every one of your peers. There are many lesser things that have made it to the front page of HN.

The context is very smart (if not brilliant) people who suffer from hidden depression.

> Why on HN?

Who knows. Make something up?

He was an amazing and exceptional person. That's good enough for me.

I had the same thought, but...Robin Williams.

>Don't throw stones on me, but... Why on HN?

Because breaking the rules (like what "fits HN") is part of being a hacker. Or a human.

Plus, that's how social sites work. There's no "why X is on top" -- it's on top because it was voted on top.

>Because breaking the rules (like what "fits HN") is part of being a hacker. Or a human.

This sounds like justification for having no rules. I don't know if that's a good idea.

>Plus, that's how social sites work. There's no "why X is on top" -- it's on top because it was voted on top.

This is fair enough, I think.

In any event, R.I.P. Robin Williams!

>This sounds like justification for having no rules. I don't know if that's a good idea.

Does it seem like some general anarchy has erruped on HN, and literary all kinds of posts have been voted on top?

I don't think so: it's just some rule-bending when HN voters feel like it.

I haven't suggested that general anarchy has erupted. I've suggested that "breaking the rules is part of being human" is a crappy justification for breaking rules.

Perhaps you need a better justification on a break-by-break basis, but as a general philosophical/stance-on-life justification, it holds up.

I mean, if we were to really discuss this on a substancial level you'd also have to justify what is so great about following rules in the first place. After all, people have been following stupid rules (including laws) for ages.

But if I were to do that, I'd have to go deeper. I'd have to start justifying everything that I do. And I mean everything. I'd have to justify my justifications, and justify those meta-justifications. I'd have to justify the need to justify things at all. Soon, I wouldn't be able to get out of bed because it would take me all day (perhaps longer!) to justify doing so.

I'd certainly also have to justify having this conversation with you. I can't do that, so thanks anyway.

Some dork already flagged the story, so its been knocked to page 3 or 4. Even if you don't think the content is appropriate, the problem with the flag approach is that it will keep popping up around the whole day since people think it hasn't been covered yet.

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