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8 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Robin Williams

Mark Ralston- Getty Images

Robin Williams is a man who lived a pretty incredible life before his death yesterday at the young age of 63.

The road wasn’t always paved with gold for Williams who struggled as a street mime in New York City before fame found him, but even after he’d made it big, Robin never forgot where he came from. Robin was a man people of all walks of life could relate to. He was a man with a huge heart who was tormented by a crippling depression, something a lot of people weren’t aware of.

Here are a few more little known things about Robin Williams:

1. Robin Williams improvised most of Genie for “Aladdin.”  How many times did you watch “Aladdin” and think “wow, Genie is a really funny guy?’ That was all Robin who ad libbed much of his performance. As a matter of fact, the Academy Awards rejected the bid for “Aladdin” in the Best Adapted Screenplay category because so much of Robin’s role ended up being improvised.

2. Robin Williams was the one who helped his friend Christopher Reeve laugh again following his career-ending accident. Robin and Christopher became really good friends when they attended The Juilliard School and stayed friends for the rest of time. When Christopher was involved in that horrible horse riding accident which made him a quadriplegic, Robin visited him in the hospital, pretending to be a Russian doctor there to perform a colonoscopy. Christopher says it was the first time he’d laughed since the accident and in that moment, he realized he was going to be okay.

3. During the filming of “Schindler’s List,” Robin Williams called Steven Spielberg to tell him jokes and lift his spirits. You’d have to imagine that filming “Schindler’s List” had to be hard, even for a director who’d seen it all, but Robin understood the heaviness of the movie and called Steven once or twice to help him laugh.

4. Robin Williams was voted by his high school classmates as the “Least Likely To Succeed.” Well, he proved him wrong, didn’t he? Robin went on to pick up five Grammys, two Emmys and an Academy Award.

5. Like me, Robin Williams’ favorite book as a child was “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”  Here is Williams’ description of reading his favorite book from childhood to his kids: “Growing up, it was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – I would read the whole C.S. Lewis series out loud to my kids. I was once reading to Zelda, and she said “don’t do any voices. Just read it as yourself.” So I did, I just read it straight, and she said ‘that’s better.”

6. “Mork & Mindy” gave Robin Williams his big break. “Mork & Mindy” was a spin-off from an episode of “Happy Days.” Mork tried to take Richie Cunningham back to his planet Ork as a human specimen, but that was foiled by Fonzie. Robin got the job by showing up to the “Happy Days” audition wearing rainbow suspenders. And when he was asked to sit how he thought an alien might, Robin did a handstand on the chair.

7. Robin Williams was married three times. Robin’s first marriage was in 1978, but he had an affair with a cocktail waitress, so that put an end to his first marriage. The year after his first divorce, Robin married his nanny who was several months pregnant with his child. That marriage lasted for a pretty good amount of time, but ended in divorce, which is when Robin married his third wife who he was with until his death.

8. Robin Williams was one of the last people to see John Belushi alive. Robin was really good friends with John Belushi and he and Robert De Niro were the last two celebrities to see Belushi alive on separate visits to Belushi’s home in Hollywood.

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