You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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.