TRIVIA TRIBUTE: Robin Williams

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It’s with a heavy heart that I’ve cut short my recent blogging hiatus to come back and offer up some special Trivia Tidbits after the sad passing of Robin Williams. Suffering from depression for most of his life it just shows how such an illness can overcome a person. Sadly at age 63 he took his own life. As it’s 2014, here’s 14 ways of shedding some light on a great talent from both ends of the dramatic and comedic scale.

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1: Early in his career, Williams told a reporter that he was born in Scotland. His original press releases indeed listed Scotland as his place of birth. He admitted that he was “under the influence” at the time of saying this. He was really born in Chicago.

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2: Williams and Robert DeNiro were the last stars to see John Belushi alive, albeit on separate visits to Bungalow #3 of the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles that fateful day in March 1982.

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3: One week after Christopher Reeve’s tragic horseriding accident, Robin visited him in the hospital. However, he was dressed from head to toe in scrubs, spoke with a Russian accent, and had a surgical mask on. He was acting as if he was a real doctor and did a bunch of wacky antics. After he took off his mask, Reeve stated that, “That was the first time he laughed since the accident!“.

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4: He was a very overweight child. As a result, nobody would play with him. He started talking in different voices to entertain himself.

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5: Was frequently called up by Steven Spielberg when he was filming “Schindler’s List“. He would put him on speaker phone so he could tell jokes to the cast and crew to cheer them up. He used his character in “Aladdin” most of the time.

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6: During the course of recording the voice of Genie in “Aladdin“. Robin improvised so much they had almost 16 hours of material. He also ad-libbed so many of his lines that the movie’s script was turned down for a Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award nomination.

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7: When “Blame Canada“, a song from “South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut“, was nominated for a Best Song Academy Award, it was Williams who performed the song at the ceremony because the actress who sang the song in the film, Mary Kay Bergman, had committed suicide a few months prior to the awards show.

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8: During the making of “Mork & Mindy” in 1978, Williams departed from the scripts and ad libbed so many times and so well, that the producers stop trying to make him stick to the script and deliberately left gaps in the later scripts leaving only “Mork can go off here” in those places so Robin could improvise.

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9: He was a huge fan of the video game series “Legend of Zelda” since the first game appeared in 1986, and even named his daughter Zelda, after the eponymous character. Both Robin and Zelda appeared in a commercial for “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword” in 2011.

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10: Notable roles that he nearly got were, unsurprisingly, the role of The Riddler in “Batman Forever” in 1995, which eventually went to Jim Carrey but was also considered for the role of Joe Miller in Jonathan Demme’s “Philadelphia” in 1993, which went to Denzel Washington.

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11: When filming the scene in “Awakenings” where Dr. Sayer (Williams) and the security guards attempt to restrain Leonard (Robert DeNiro), Williams accidentally hit DeNiro in the face with his elbow, breaking De Niro’s nose. De Niro later commented that his nose had been broken before, in the opposite direction, and this injury actually straightened it back out.

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12: In “Good Will Hunting“, the scene where Sean (Williams) and Will (Matt Damon) are in his office, and Sean starts talking about his dead wife and her farting antics. These lines were ad-libbed by Robin, which is probably why Damon is laughing so hard. If you watch the scene carefully you can notice the camera shaking, probably due to the cameraman laughing as well.

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13: Asked by “Inside The Actors Studio” presenter James Lipton about what he would like to God say when he arrived in heaven, Williams answered that “The concert starts at 5:00. There will be Mozart, Elvis and anyone of your choosing. There’s a seat near the front.

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14: On the night his death was announced to the UK on the BBC News Channel, BBC3 had just broadcast the “Family Guy” episode “Fatman and Robin” where everyone that Peter Griffin touches turns into Robin Williams. In hindsight it has been described as “freakishly weird” timing by UK audiences as Peter Griffin also attempts suicide in this episode. – (I was personally watching this when I heard the news of his death).

So there you have it… 2014 takes yet another talent from our screens and few have been as entertaining as Robin Williams.

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Here’s a great early standup routine to remind ourselves how good this man really was. It’s classic Williams at his best… RIP.

(For earlier editions of Trivia Tidbits click here.)

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56 Responses to “TRIVIA TRIBUTE: Robin Williams”

  1. Awesome tribute, really makes me want to rewatch some of his movies. He will be missed.

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  2. Didn’t realize it, but I needed this. Thanks, Mark.

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  3. A great post of trivia. RIP Robin Williams, he will be missed. I’ll miss him, few actors could match his comedic and dramatic talent, his ability to just make you laugh.

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    • He was something else, Chris. I’ve always been very partial to Williams’ antics. I watched some of his stand-up stuff last night, and I was absolutely creasing myself.

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  4. Awesome, that Christopher Reeve story is really lovely

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  5. I really loved Robin William’s rendition of “Blame Canada,” I actually watched that again once I found out he had died. I still can’t believe he’s gone.

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    • It’s hard to take when you realise that he has crossed generations. Man, for as long as I can remember, Robin Williams was on my screens. I used to love Mork & Mindy when I was a youngster.

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  6. Wonderful tribute, Mark. Williams was such a comedic force, such a great dramatic talent, but also just such a good person to people around him. It’s terrible that he had to leave at all, but especially the way he did.

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    • Thanks Morgan! It was hard accepting the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman recently but Williams is that bit more tragic when you realise how he went. A definite loss to comedy and drama! 😦

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  7. The Schindler’s List bit of trivia is actually a myth. Robin Williams was asked about it on an AMA on Reddit and said he only called Spielberg once or twice, and it was related to a charity event they were working on, not the actual subject matter of the film.

    That being said, they’re are still plenty of good tidbits on here. I miss him more than I thought I would and I’m still thinking about it..

    Nice tribute, Mark.

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    • It’s a myth? Damn!
      Still, I’ll leave it in just because that sounds like something Williams would do.
      Such a great actor and comedian (and by the sounds of it, all round nice guy). I’ve grown up with Williams always being around. It’s a hard one to shake off.

      Cheers Nick! Nice to hear from you again, buddy!

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  8. My favourite Robin story is one he told on a UK chat show. He was doing a gig, one of his very first big theatre stand ups in the US. As he went through the show one man way up at the back was howling with laughter way louder than anyone else. He laughed longer and harder and encouraged Robin endlessly.
    At the end of the gig as he walked off stage Robin shouted “Whoever the F__k that lunatic at the back is come to my dressing room I want to meet you” And the man did go to the dressing room and that is how a totally unknown Billy Connolly and Robin Williams became friends.

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  9. Great to have you back Mark; shame it’s with a post marking the death of such a great performer. I didn’t realise about that Family Guy thing; man that’s odd.

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    • Cheers Mark! Yeah, I wanted to leave coming back for another couple of weeks but the death of Williams pulled me back before then. It’s a real shame, man, and that Family Guy thing was a bit weird. I was watching that at the time I checked Facebook and seen the announcement!

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  10. So, so sad. 😦

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  11. Great post, man. A very sad, tragic loss. 14 is really eerie.

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  12. Fascinating stuff. Sad news 😦

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  13. Glad to see you back albeit under these sad circumstances.

    I already posted this on Ruth’s site but I can remember seeing Good Morning Vietnam in a sold out, 700 seat theater in Boston back in ’87. The jokes were so rapid fire that I missed every other joke from all the laughter from the crowd. I had to see it a second time!

    The one about Zelda was interesting. I went back and watched the scene from Good Will Hunting where he talks about his wife farting. I never noticed the camera shaking before although I did notice Damon genuinely laughing his ass off. He was a funny man.

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    • I didn’t plan on returning to my blog quite yet, Dave but with news of this kind I had to post something.

      I bet that was an experience with Good Morning Vietnam? I recently watched one of his stand-up routines and I was genuinely laughing my head off. I hadn’t seen any of his stand-up for quite some time but I think I’ll sift through youtube for some more. A very talented and extremely funny guy.

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  14. Good to see you back mate but terrible shame about Robin Williams. I’ve been cut off in the countryside just outside of Ullapool for three days with no internet or phone signal, only found out tonight. Really sad news, he was a really talented guy.

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    • Yeah, I’m in the countryside myself at the moment Stu. I was enjoying the peace until I heard this news and had to return to blogging to show my respect for Williams. It’s a bit gutting, to be honest. Especially after Philip Seymour Hoffman’s tragic death too.

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  15. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your website. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Excellent work! afakeddkfgab

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  16. Really great tribute. Well done. I will miss that man greatly.

    I was watching the same Family Guy episode on BBC3 as well. Woke up the next morning and heard the news. Pretty freaky and shocking as well 😦

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  17. Nice tribute, Mark. Such a tragic loss, but these just goes to show just how much joy he brought to the world.

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  18. Great trivia tribute Mark. This one has affected me a lot. I probably watched Jumanji and Mrs Doubtfire as much as any films in my childhood. Plus depression is something that I have had a fair bit to deal with, both personally and those around me, so that always hits a fair bit.

    I love that Christopher Reeve story. So sweet. Jamie Kilstein, a lesser known comedian from the states, has also shared some really cool stories on his twitter and facebook about the incredible support that Williams has given him over the last few years (Williams called him just a few months ago to help when he heard that Kilstein was depressed).

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    • Cheers Tim. I remember a lot of Williams’ family movies growing up but they two that stuck with me most were The Fisher King and Dead Poets Society. In fact, The Fisher King was my favourite film when I was younger. He’s just always been around. It’s hard to imagine that we won’t be privileged to his acting or comedy again. 😦

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  19. Ellie Walker Says:

    Great tribute mark

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  20. Wonderful tribute to a gifted actor, I still can’t believe he’s gone.

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    • Cheers Vinnie. It’s certainly a shocker. It easier to accept when they’re older and have lived a full life (like Lauren Bacall or James Garner for example) but the likes of Philip Seymour Hoffman with an overdose is a tough one. Williams’ suicide is even more shocking.

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  21. Lovely trivia once again Mark, only this one is burdened by an immense feeling of sadness. Can’t believe it.

    #11 and #12 really brought tears of joy to my eyes, though. Man, the influence a single man can have. Isn’t it amazing?

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  22. Lovely piece Mark. What a bombshell it was waking up to this sad news. He will always be remembered as one of the great comedy performers who could quite literally turn his acting talent and emotional range to almost any role. He will be missed greatly 😦

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    • Cheers bud! I couldn’t agree more with you here, man. Williams is one if the few actors that was a genuine part of my childhood from Mork & Mindy onwards. Sure, other actors were around but his material was more family based and then the older I got, I was able to appreciate his dramatic roles as well. For want of a better word, it’s absolutely SHIT news 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Was there a more loved actor? This one really hurts. 8 is brilliant. The ultimate compliment really.

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  24. ray brayne Says:

    I’m surprised there’s no trivia for Williams with Jonathan Winters. Williams spoke often about his idol Winters. He recalled as a boy how he and his father first saw Winters on Jack Paars “Tonight” show. Winters came out in a Pith Helmet. Paar asked, “are you a hunter?” Winters replied, “I’m a great white hunter. I hunt mainly squirrels!” Paar asked “How do you do that?” Winters said, “I aim for their little nuts!” Williams remembered how hard he and his father laughed. And he kept trying to recaptured that laughter!
    RIP–Robin Williams

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  25. The world lost a great, great man. Thanks for this post, Mark.

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  26. Great tribute Mark!

    I must say he was very good, and I loved his stand up. He was talented and highly amusing. What a pity.

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    • Sorry for the late reply, Zoe. Still catching up with the old blogging stuff. I often forget how committed and on the ball you have to be.

      Regardless, thank you. He was indeed a true talent. Such a shame to see him go in such a way. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s all good Mark. It can get busy, and it does take a lot more time and energy than one would think! How are all the politics going down there in Scotland? I keep seeing bits and pieces on the news!

        PS: I absolutely LOVE your new profile/Gravatar pic.

        It truly is a pity 😦

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  27. Great work here Mark. This post reconfirms so many things about him, most importantly that he really was a genuinely great guy. I never tire hearing that story about visiting Reeves in the hospital.

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  28. Great post here. He seemed such a lovely guy. So very sad. 😦 I stopped by to see if you’ve started blogging again yet. Miss your reviews! At least I’ve had a bit of a fix with some for my own site, I guess. πŸ™‚

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