Hollywood ‘Stunned,’ ‘Heartbroken’ Over Robin Williams’ Death

The shock of Robin Williams’ death spread far and wide on Monday, a reflection of the actor’s long career in movies, television, stage and standup comedy.

Tributes came in from friends and colleagues, studios and executives, the directors of his many movies, fellow comics and even President Obama. Those who knew and worked with him described Williams as a comic genius with a generous heart.

Steven Spielberg called him “a pal” and expressed shock at Williams’ death of an apparent suicide at the age of 63. Williams starred as Peter opposite Dustin Hoffman’s Captain Hook in Spielberg’s 1991 movie “Hook,” and he had a voice role in the director’s 2001 feature “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.”

“Robin was a lightning storm of comic genius and our laughter was the thunder that sustained him. He was a pal and I can’t believe he’s gone,” Spielberg said.

SEE ALSO: Robin Williams Found Dead at 63 in Possible Suicide

Chris Columbus, director of Williams’ 1993 smash “Mrs. Doubtfire,” said watching the actor at work was a “magical and special privilege.”

“We have lost one of our most inspired and gifted comic minds, as well as one of this generation’s greatest actors,” Columbus said. “His performances were unlike anything any of us had ever seen, they came from some spiritual and otherworldly place. He truly was one of the few people who deserved the title of “genius”. We were friends for 21 years. Our children grew up together, he inspired us to spend our lives in San Francisco and I loved him like a brother. The world was a better place with Robin in it. And his beautiful legacy will live on forever.”

Shawn Levy directed Williams in three “Night at the Museum” features — the last of which is set for release in December.

“Onscreen and off, this was a formidable, incredible guy–generous in the best way: with his heart and humor, devoted to making others happy. Over his remarkable career, Robin moved us to tears; sometimes from laughter, sometimes from humanity, sometimes both in the same moment, a feat that few performers have equaled,” Levy said. “I will miss Robin deeply but I will never stop treasuring the phenomenal, enduring work he gave to us all. Robin Williams was that rarest of things: a true and forever one of a kind.”

Obama noted the breadth of Williams’ work and the common threads in the characters he played.

“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most – from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets. The Obama family offers our condolences to Robin’s family, his friends, and everyone who found their voice and their verse thanks to Robin Williams.”

PHOTOS: Robin Williams’ Most Memorable Moments

Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger praised Williams as “a true Disney Legend” for his work in “Aladdin” and other pics. Williams was “a wonderfully gifted man who touched our hearts and never failed to make us laugh,” Iger said.

Garry Marshall gave Williams his first big break by casting him as the lead in the late 1970s ABC comedy “Mork and Mindy.” After a memorable first meeting, the two forged a friendship that endured long after Williams became a mega star.

“I will never forget the day I met him and he stood on his head in my office chair and pretended to drink a glass of water using his finger like a straw,” Marshall said. “Robin was hands-down a comedy genius and one of the most talented performers I have ever worked with in television or film. To lose him so young at the age of 63 is just a tragedy. I will forever be in awe of his timing, his talent and his pure and golden creativity. He could make everybody happy but himself.”

Early in his career as a standup, Williams was part of a clutch of Los Angeles-based comedians that included Jay Leno and David Letterman.

“I saw him on stage the very first time he auditioned at the Improv in Los Angeles, and we have been friends ever since. It’s a very sad day,” Leno said.

Comedian David Steinberg did a theatrical tour with Williams’ last year that had them on the road together for nearly six months. Like Marshall, Steinberg noted that Williams’ seemed driven to try to take care of everyone around him but himself.

“Besides seeing his brilliant improvisational mind in action every night was the pleasure in just getting to know him and his generosity and spirit,” Steinberg said.

Williams made weekly visits to Santa Barbara to look in on comedian Jonathan Winters before Winters’ death last year, Steinberg said. “A comic genius looking after another comic genius.
Robin looked after everyone. If only he would have looked after himself,” Steinberg said.

Ben Stiller recalled being awestruck as a 13-year-old “Mork and Mindy” fan when he first met Williams at the Improv. Working with him later, Stiller said he was struck by Williams’ “kindness and generosity.”

“He could not help but be funny all the time. He would do something as long as it would keep you laughing,” Stiller said. “He made many, many film crews laugh out loud before the audiences ever saw it. He made such a big impact on the world.”

Jeffrey Katzenberg was involved in some of Williams’ signature pics — “Good Morning Vietnam,” “Dead Poets Society” and “Aladdin” — during his Disney tenure. Katzenberg called him “singularly unique.”

“He truly was one of the single most brilliant and unique true geniuses that I’ve had the good fortune of working with,” Katzenberg told Variety. When you think of those performances (in the three movies), no one else on this planet could have done what he did and made those films what they were.”

Katzenberg recalled that the last time they spoke was a few months ago when his son, David Katzenberg, directed an episode of Williams’ CBS comedy “The Crazy Ones.” “We just had a great laugh about how we were growing old and our children had turned out so well,” Katzenberg said.

Danny DeVito, a close friend who directed Williams in the 2002 comedy “Death to Smoochy,” said he was simply “devastated” by the loss.

“So sad to think about this. Hard to speak. Hard to say. Hard to take. All I can think about is what a joy he was to be with,” DeVito said. “My heart is broken by this news.”

Twentieth Century Fox, the studio behind “Mrs. Doubtfire” and the “Night at the Museum” franchise, hailed Williams as “immensely talented.”

“There really are no words to describe the loss of Robin Williams. He was immensely talented, a cherished member of our community, and part of the Fox family. Our hearts go out to his family, friends and fans. He will be deeply missed,” Fox said in a statement.

Last season, Williams worked for the TV side of Fox on “The Crazy Ones,” the 20th Century Fox TV-produced comedy for CBS that was created by David E. Kelley.

“The talent was legendary. But equally inspiring, perhaps more so, was his kindness and humanity,” Kelley said. “A gentle soul who touched us all. A very special man, and our hearts are broken.”

The 20th TV studio noted that although the show did not last beyond one season, Williams was well-loved on the set.

“Robin Williams was a comedy giant, and although we only knew him personally for a season, he was warm, funny and a true professional. His cast and crew both loved him and loved working with him, and our hearts go out to his family and friends. He was one of a kind,” 20th TV said.

SAG-AFTRA president Ken Howard noted Williams’ legacy of working to raise money for various causes.

“He was a performer of limitless versatility, equally adept at comedy and drama, whether scripted or improv,” Howard said. “With his incomparable manic style, he could appeal to adult sensibilities in a stand-up comedy routine or elicit giggles from children as the voice of Genie in ‘Aladdin.’ Outside of his career, he used his considerable talents to raise money for charity. He was not only a talented man, but a true humanitarian. It’s such a tremendous loss.”

Williams’ many charitable endeavors included the “Comic Relief” telethon series on HBO that he hosted with Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg in the 1980s and ’90s. Williams also starred in numerous comedy specials for HBO, most recently 2009’s “Weapons of Self-Destruction.”

“Robin Williams graced HBO for so many years with his uncommon gifts,” the cabler said. “He never failed to elevate his art and did so with a full, generous and loving heart. Always humble and gracious, Robin was a prince and holds a special place in all our hearts.”

Comedian David Steinberg did a theatrical tour with Williams’ last year that had them on the road together for nearly six months. Like Marshall, Steinberg noted that Williams’ seemed driven to try to take care of everyone around him but himself.

Many others expressed shock and appreciation for Williams via social media, moments after the news broke that he’d been found dead at his home in Tiburon, Calif., near San Francisco.

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  1. richard says:

    ive been a fan of robin williams since happy days and mork and mindy. he was a legend a briliant brilliant comic no other comic since jerry lewis has ever made me laugh. i still cant believe hes gone aparantly he made 4 other films before he died one wich there not sure will ever be shown .i dont agree i think we should be aloud to see his last film

  2. Susan Matts says:

    “Robin Williams made the world laugh & think. I will remember & honor that. A great man, artist and friend. I will miss him beyond measure.” – Kevin Spacey

    Its true that we grew up watching him. He made us laugh with his performance. A great artist and will be missed.

  3. Te Ara says:

    Still cannot believe it … but it is true… even in NZ we know you, we loved you and your work was magical… I think, that while we on earth have lost a great man, artist, father, friend, husband and colleague, heaven on the other hand has gained a true light and no doubt rolled out the red carpet with a front row seat just for him… all of my best wishes, condolences and prayers to his family and close friends…and may Mr Williams rest in peace with a lot of laugher :) Good bye Mr Williams’ and thank you for all you gave to us while you graced out planet.

  4. Larry Moore says:

    Robin Williams I think the world is in morning caused the world lost a bright mind Hollywood always makes us the fan’s the actor’s are not humans but the reality is they have problem’s just like the fans my deepest Sympathy to the family my advice don’t judge any body’s with depression caused is not a joke is too badly that’s a famous person died for America to recognize this problem I guess the death of Robin Williams isn’t in vane after all R.E.P. R.W YOU WILL BE MISSED******♡♡♡♡♡▪☆☆☆♡

  5. R.I.P ………………………Why

  6. christine says:

    what dreams may come…we will never know the possibilities. like the movie i am sure many a soul would cross over to bring you back- prayers to family

  7. Denise says:

    Ohhh. Robin Williams. Beatiful soul. Gave me and the rest of this world so much LAUGHTER! Robin rescued me a few occasions when I fell in deep depression. He gave me a second chance to keep on livin. Thank you Robin. Before any of this happened, I watched Robin win his first and only Oscar for Good Will Hunting, over and over again on my tablet, and I cried because he showed his dramatic side and he was brillant and deserved that Oscar. R.I.P. Jonathan Winters will be waiting at the door for your arrival.

  8. JOE S HILL says:

    August 11,2014,,the day the laughter died!

  9. Reblogged this on I'm a Lady Butterfly and a little devil and commented:
    Non, mais non….Il y a des jours comme ça. Pas lui. :(

  10. When I arrived to my local board meeting tonight, my colleague said those shocking words “Robin Williams is dead.” I know not what drove him to end his life today but he was obviously suffering deeply. It’s unfortunate that people that choose the suicide path cannot fathom the enormous gap they leave behind. In the case of Robin, it was the tremendous delight he brought to millions of us who enjoyed the brilliant comedy of films like “Mrs. Doubtfire” or “Good Morning Vietnam” or his superlative dramatic work in “Good Will Hunting”, “Dead Poets Society” and “The Fisher King”. He was a true original, a bona fide genius and from all accounts, a man of great humility. At 63, Robin was hardly an old man; and he leaves behind a great body of work… a legacy of his special talent. I grieve for his pain, I grieve for family’s loss and I grieve for all of us, who will feel the repercussions of his loss for years to come.

  11. SO VERY SAD ABOUT THE NEWS OF ROBIN WILLIAM,REST IN PEACE

  12. Trace Baker says:

    I can’t say anything about Robin Williams that I’m sure hasn’t been said.
    I’m just saddened by the sheer waste of one of the most talented individuals of our time. Who knows what makes a person get so low they have no other solution? Many of us are no stranger to depression. Money & fame really never solve anything.
    I just found this article from 4 years ago. It gives an insight into a man I think very few of us knew. The saddest thing is you realize by reading it, that today, He lost the battle.
    http://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/sep/20/robin-williams-worlds-greatest-dad-alcohol-drugs

  13. Just heard about the death of Robin Williams. I’m shocked & deeply saddened. ‪A true legend has left us today. He brought us so much joy and fun over all those years, but today he’s giving us just utter sadness. And why am I grieving over a man I’ve never met in real life? Because he brought me fun and laughter and that was real to me. #RIPRobinWilliams

  14. i’m am so heartbroken and in shock of this devastating news,words cant express the sadness and emptiness i feel,i am sick inside,you were so loved and will be sooo missed,thanks for so many years you made me laugh and cheered me up,my heart and prayers go out to his family and friends…he was a wonderful goodhearted man,and the world wont be the same without him,i’m so sorry to hear he was so depressed,i so wish we knew and could have done something to keep this from happening and could have made him happy,like he made us happy and put smiles on our faces for so many years !!! R.I.P. Dear Robin,May God rest your soul <3 :'(

  15. lefos says:

    Oh Jesus no no no

  16. The entertainment world now has a huge hole in it that will never be filled. My heart hurts.

  17. Vi says:

    Robin, you taught me how to laugh at myself and that being different is just as good as anyone else. If laughter is the best medicine, then why did you have to leave us?

  18. miriam paisner says:

    have watched him since first he did Mork and Mindy; always wished to meet him because he
    seemed so kind and genuine; what a terrible loss; i wonder why his depression wasnt seen and treated? miriam paisner, in Boulder Colo

  19. 4nn4 says:

    Laugh and cry..Live and die.. Life is a dream we’re dreaming, a qouted lyric from Then You Look At Me-Bicential Man… Goodbye Mr.Robin your inspired movie always in our heart and our children

  20. Ely Martinez says:

    Robin Williams also contributed his valuable time and talent in support of the troops by touring with the USO. He made us all forget the dangers we were facing everyday for just a little while, but we are forever grateful.

  21. Marcia DuPont says:

    I am heartsick to hear of Robin Williams death.My husband died of suicide. I have felt the pain of suicide and my heart hurts for those left behind. I want to reach out and just hug and hold the family and friends right now. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem and it sucks for those left behind

  22. Micki Sharpe says:

    I love you & your talent Robin…..RIP.

  23. Sinkwriter says:

    Robin Williams was the kind of guy who made you cry, you were laughing so hard. They say so many people are “one of a kind” but Robin truly was.

  24. Sinkwriter says:

    That “Oh Captain, My Captain” reference broke me. I haven’t seen that film in years, but now I keep picturing those kids standing on their desks in his honor.

    Heartbreaking news.

  25. Kawanda Polk says:

    So deeply saddened to hear such news. It seem a good bit of the great ones have been passing on; only to leave ones’ who’ve adored them from near or distant with broken hearts and fond memories of a presence that they once shared in a moment of time. Robin Williams was one of my all time favorites during my childhood as well as an adult! My babies also had become quite fond of him and it truely break their hearts to hear such tragedy. May his legacy live bright in the heart of many!

  26. Lori says:

    This is so sad! Depression can truly destroy a soul. You never know true depression and how devastating it can be unless you’ve actually dealt with it. Many wonderful people have left us while trying to battle this demon called “depression”. It’s so unfair. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Robin. What an amazing man! R.I.P. Robin Williams!

  27. Meliya says:

    So very heartbroken over the loss of such an amazingly gifted man . The world is a better place because Robin Williams was here. Rest In Peace.

  28. kimberly wilhelm says:

    I am so shocked and devastated to hear that one of my very favorite actors is gone. He was truly one of a kind, and I am deeply saddened with this news. R.I.P. Robin Williams!!!

  29. Ching Mirasol says:

    My son at 50, my friend Robin at 63! When does the pain and tears stop?

    • Ching Mirasol says:

      WHen DO the pain and tears stop? There’ll always a huge void left by the presence of these 2 special people in my life.

  30. aliceedwards says:

    Such a lost.Hate knowing such a wonderful person felt there was no other way to find peace.Our prayers go out to his family.

  31. Kathy Davis says:

    Terrible loss of an amazing actor.You will truly be missed Robin Williams!

  32. Caroline Cartwright says:

    Laughter is the best medicine and Robin with his talent helped alot of people laugh and feel better.

  33. Chad Boston says:

    In Memory of Robin Williams – Song By Chad Boston – Much Sorrow I Do Feel!

    Robin Williams
    July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014

    Sincere condolences go out to his family and friends and admirers.

    I composed little song out of my feelings.

    “Much Sorrow I Do Feel!”

    Please play it till the end.

    Sincerely,
    Chad Boston

    Please share if you feel the same way and this made you feel a little better!

    If you like it please share. Thank you!

    If you don’t like it please just be kind out of respect.

    #robinwilliams

  34. Diane Smith says:

    DUDE! Why couldn’t you think of someone besides yourself? Your wife, your kids, hell, the world! You’ve left us broken. You got help before, why not now?!? I’m pissed at you. All my family but one is dead and I’m broke; nobody knows who the hell I am. But look at what you had. What in hell did you have to be depressed about?!? Damn it, Robin!!! We all loved you, man!!!

    • bryanalaspa says:

      Those of us who have battled depression don’t choose to be depressed. No matter how good life may seem, depression is an illness, just like cancer or some other disease. It’s not a matter of “what does he have to be depressed about?” You just are. It just happens and it’s a pain and despair unlike anything you can imagine. You cannot just “buck up” and be happy. It’s beyond that. It’s a darkness you cannot escape and your own brain is often telling you that this is wrong, this is bad, you need help, but sometimes it’s just too much. Robin may have taken his own life, but it was a disease that killed him.

    • Nicole A says:

      Also, he always thought about everyone around him and what he could do to make them feel better. All the while, he was suffering inside. Perhaps he is also depressed because he’s a genius who cared so much about others. This isn’t about you and your struggle. This is about him. And he owes you nothing.

      • Deb says:

        Depression cares nothing about your life … no one chooses depression, it chooses you; and yes it even happens to famous people, wealthy people … You cannot berate this great man for choosing his ending. He had to had to have been in agony.

        R.I.P. Robin Williams, we are heartbroken and you are going to be deeply missed.

    • Nicole A says:

      “What in hell did you have to be depressed about?!?” Are you serious?! You don’t know shit about his life. Fame and money don’t get rid of your depression or alcoholism. You are so incredibly judgmental to conclude that he is selfish. He should stay alive and suffer just to please you?! You’re the selfish one. Ugh. He at least tried hard to get help and lost the battle. Have some empathy for him and his struggle.

  35. Kristine Glenney says:

    Pure genius could possibly have a hard time surviving in this world. A huge loss.

  36. Lucille Annunziata says:

    Robin Williams – from Mrs Doubtfire to Mr
    Keating to Christi in what Dreams May Come – to the Psychiatrist in Good Will Hunting. To Hook to Jakob the Liar to
    The Genie of the Lamp – at last you are
    free of the sadness that haunted you. But oh how sad we will all remain at the great
    void you have left behind. A space no one else can fill. I hope you get to see Chris and Dana again and remember though you may have found it hard to love yourself, we all loved you

  37. Lyn says:

    It is ok, my friend. It’s over…..no more pain……no more sadness. You made so many of us happy for so long. Now it’s your turn. There is a hole in my heart, but we will always have you – cd’s are immortal as you are.

  38. Jenny Meeker says:

    Hopefully the celebrities who adored him as much as the rest of us will come together for a cause–time for Comic Relief to come back and raise mental health awareness issues and provide an outlet for people to find the help they need before we lose another person to such a tragic internal struggle.

  39. IWatchTV says:

    Correction Variety. Robin Williams played Peter Pan in Hook. Dustin Hoffman played Captain Hook.

  40. Matt Kennedy says:

    Robin Williams played Peter Pan in Hook, not Captain Hook.

  41. My heart will never be the same. I loved you for your talent,but most of all for you just being you. A horrible loss to this world. I will miss you everyday and remember all the happiness you gave me every time I watched you. You were and will always be one of a kind. My thoughts and prayers to your family. There will never be anyone that will make me laugh as much as you did. Rest in peace you wonderful dear soul.

  42. Robin Williams dead at 63! I am speechless to learn this horrible news. This man gave me laughter as a child all my life and I owe him a lot. This will not be easy to accept. I just hope he finds peace and laughter in heaven. Thank you for giving me laughter and happiness all my life through your movies and comedies on stage and off. You are a lmajor loss to the world. You will be truly missed!

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