Remembering Robin Williams, the boisterous comedy star

Remembering Robin Williams, the boisterous comedy star

Robin Williams, a brilliant shapeshifter who could channel his frenetic energy into delightful comic characters like "Mrs. Doubtfire" or harness it into richly nuanced work like his Oscar-winning turn in "Good Will Hunting," died in an apparent suicide bid.

Robin Williams, a brilliant shapeshifter who could channel his frenetic energy into delightful comic characters like "Mrs. Doubtfire" or harness it into richly nuanced work like his Oscar-winning turn in "Good Will Hunting," died on Monday in an apparent suicide. He was 63. (Source: File Photo AP)

Robin Williams was pronounced dead at his San Francisco Bay Area home, according to the sheriff's office in Marin County, north of San Francisco. The sheriff's office said the preliminary investigation shows the cause of death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.

In this pic. mourners outside Robin Williams residence. (Source: AP)

The Marin County coroner's office said Williams was last seen alive at home at about 10 p.m. on Sunday. An emergency call from his house in Tiburon was placed to the Sheriff's Department shortly before noon Monday. (Source: File Photo AP)

Robin Williams had been battling severe depression recently, said Mara Buxbaum, his press representative. Just last month, he announced he was returning to a 12-step treatment program he said he needed after 18 months of non-stop work. He had sought treatment in 2006 after a relapse following 20 years of sobriety. (Source: File Photo AP)

From his breakthrough in the late 1970s as the alien in the hit TV comedy 'Mork & Mindy,' through his standup comedy act and such films as 'Good Morning, Vietnam,' the short, barrel-chested Robin Williams ranted and shouted as if just sprung from solitary confinement. Loud, fast and manic, he parodied everyone from John Wayne to Keith Richardsm, impersonating a Russian immigrant as easily as a pack of Nazi attack dogs. (Source: AP)

He was a riot in drag in 'Mrs. Doubtfire,' or as a cartoon genie in 'Aladdin.' He won his Academy Award in a rare dramatic role, as an empathetic therapist in the 1997 film 'Good Will Hunting.'

This March 23, 1998 file photo shows Robin Williams holding his Oscar high backstage at the 70th Academy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles after won Best Supporting Actor for "Good Will Hunting." Williams, whose free-form comedy and adept impressions dazzled audiences for decades. (Source: AP)

He was no less on fire in interviews. During a 1989 chat with The Associated Press, he could barely stay seated in his hotel room, or even mention the film he was supposed to promote, as he free-associated about comedy and the cosmos.

"There's an Ice Age coming," he said. "But the good news is there'll be daiquiris for everyone and the Ice Capades will be everywhere. The lobster will keep for at least 100 years, that's the good news. The Swanson dinners will last a whole millennium. The bad news is the house will basically be in Arkansas.'' (Source: AP)

Like so many funnymen, Williams had dramatic ambitions. He played for tears in "Awakenings," "Dead Poets Society" and "What Dreams May Come." which led New York Times critic Stephen Holden to write that he dreaded seeing the actor's "Humpty Dumpty grin and crinkly moist eyes."

But other critics approved, and Williams won three Golden Globes for "Good Morning, Vietnam," "Mrs. Doubtfire" and "The Fisher King." (Source: AP)

His other film credits included Robert Altman's "Popeye" (a box office bomb), Paul Mazursky's "Moscow on the Hudson," Steven Spielberg's "Hook" and Woody Allen's "Deconstructing Harry." On stage, Robin Williams joined fellow comedian Steve Martin in a 1988 Broadway revival of "Waiting for Godot."

This Nov. 18, 2006 file photo shows comedians Robin Williams, from left, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal posing after hoasting "Comic Relief" at Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

More recently, Robin Williams appeared in the "Night at the Museum" movies, playing President Theodore Roosevelt in the comedies in which Ben Stiller's security guard has to contend with wax figures that come alive and wreak havoc after a museum closes. The third film in the series is in post-production. (Source: AP)

In April, Fox 2000 said it was developing a sequel to "Mrs. Doubtfire" and Robin Williams was in talks to join the production.

Williams also made a short-lived return to TV last fall in CBS' "The Crazy Ones," a comedy about a father-daughter ad agency team that co-starred Sarah Michelle Gellar. It was canceled after one season.

Actress Pam Dawber (L) shares a laugh with actor Robin Williams as they pose for photographers before the annual American Museum of the Moving Image Tribute dinner in New York in this February 23, 1995 file photo. Williams and Dawber starred in the TV show "Mork and Mindy". (Source: AP)

His personal life was often short on laughter. He had acknowledged drug and alcohol problems in the 1970s and '80s and was among the last to see John Belushi before the 'Saturday Night Live' star died of a drug overdose in 1982.

Robin Williams (L) poses with his then wife Marsha as they arrive for the premiere of his film " What Dreams May Come" in Beverly Hills, in this file picture taken September 28. (Source: Reuters)

Born in Chicago in 1951, Robin Williams would remember himself as a shy kid who got some early laughs from his mother by mimicking his grandmother. He opened up more in high school when he joined the drama club, and he was accepted into the Juilliard Academy, where he had several classes in which he and Christopher Reeve were the only students and John Houseman was the teacher. (Source: Reuters)

Encouraged by Houseman to pursue comedy, Robin Williams identified with the wildest and angriest of performers: Jonathan Winters, Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, George Carlin. Their acts were not warm and lovable. They were just being themselves.

Cast member Robin Williams gestures at a panel for the television series "The Crazy Ones" during the CBS portion of the Television Critics Association Summer press tour in Beverly Hills, California, in this file picture taken July 29, 2013. (Source: Reuters)

He unveiled Mork, the alien from the planet Ork, in an appearance on the comedy "Happy Days" and was granted his own series, which ran from 1978 to 1982 and co-starred Pam Dawber as a woman who takes in the interplanetary visitor.

Robin Williams poses backstage with the Cecil B. DeMille award he received at the 62nd annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California, in this file picture taken January 16, 2005. (Source: Reuters)

Robin Williams could handle a script, when he felt like it, and also think on his feet. He ad-libbed in many of his films and was just as quick in person. During a media tour for 'Awakenings,' when director Penny Marshall mistakenly described the film as being set in a 'menstrual hospital,' instead of 'mental hospital,' Williams quickly stepped in and joked. 'It's a period piece.'

Robin Williams prepares to present the award for best animated feature at the 77th Academy Awards in Hollywood, in this file picture taken February 27, 2005. (Source: Reuters)

Winner of a Grammy in 2003 for best spoken comedy album, 'Robin Williams _ Live 2002,' he once likened his act to the daily jogs he took across the Golden Gate Bridge. There were times he would look over the edge, one side of him pulling back in fear, the other insisting he could fly.

Robin Williams holds his Grammy Award to his ear as he poses for photographers at the 45th annual Grammy Awards at New York's Madison Square Garden, in this file picture taken February 23, 2003.(Source: Reuters)

In addition to his wife, Robin Williams is survived by his three children: daughter Zelda, 25; and sons Zachary, 31, and Cody, 19.