Robin Williams was an actor, comedian and writer who achieved early television success on the comedy series Mork and Mindy and went on to star in dozens of feature films, including The World According to Garp, Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King, Hook and Mrs. Doubtfire. His numerous awards and honors included five Grammys, four Golden Globes, two Emmys and an Oscar.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, he grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and in Marin County, in northern California, where he graduated from high school. After a brief period at Claremont College in southern California, he moved to New York City, when he was accepted to study at the prestigious Juilliard School. Just 20 students were admitted to his freshman class at Juilliard, and he and another future star — actor Christopher Reeve — were the only two chosen for the advanced program overseen by John Houseman.
After completing his studies at Juilliard, Williams returned to California, where his rapid-fire, free-associative, verbally complex style brought him recognition in nightclubs and quickly led to television work on such programs as The Richard Pryor Show, Eight Is Enough and Happy Days, in which he has cast in a guest role as Mork, a naive space alien befuddled by life on Earth. Response to the character was so positive that it spawned a popular spin-off, Mork and Mindy, in which he costarred with Pam Dawber. In 1979 he received an Emmy nomination — his first — for his performance on the show.
In 1980, while Mork and Mindy was still on the air, Williams starred in the movie Popeye, directed by Robert Altman. When Mork ended in 1982, he showed his dramatic range in The World According to Garp, an adaptation of the novel by John Irving. The years that followed brought many other successful movies, as well as Oscar nominations for Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King and Good Will Hunting. For the latter, he won the award for best supporting actor in 1997.
Williams was also in frequent demand as a voice-over performer, and lent his unique vocal talent to such films as Aladdin, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Robots and Happy Feet.
Throughout his career, Williams continued to perform standup comedy, with numerous performances recorded for television specials such as An Evening with Robin Williams and Robin Williams: An Evening at the Met. In addition, along with fellow comedic performers Billy Crystal ad Whoopi Goldberg, he hosted several Comic Relief specials to raise funds and awareness to help people in need, especially the homeless.
In 2013, after many years away from series television, he returned to TV with the CBS comedy The Crazy Ones, costarring Sarah Michelle Gellar.
He received nine Emmy nominations in all, and won twice — both for outstanding individual performance in a variety or music program. They came in 1987, for A Carol Burnett Special: Carol, Carl, Whoopi & Robin, and in 1988, for ABC Presents a Royal Gala.
Williams died August 11, 2014, in Tiburon, California. He was 63.