Greetings everyone. Welcome to a Blog, I wish I never had to write. The Entertainment Industry lost an Icon, on Monday. Oscar winning Actor and Comedian Robin Williams lost his long bout with depression, on August 11. The 63-year-old actor, was found dead in his Tiburon home in Marin County, California, by his personal assistant after committing suicide. The news took a while to break, but when it did it consumed everyone. An immediate outpour of love and appreciation for Robin, could be seen all over television and the internet world wide from the White House to the Middle East. I even came over my camera shyness and was interviewed, by KCAL 9’s Kristine Lazar, at Robin’s star on the Walk of Fame. “He was a genius; I mean, how many different roles did he play and different characters,” said Jonathan Shensa, a fan of Williams. “He had that down-to-earth feeling where you just felt like he was one of the people in your neighborhood.” (my part is about 1:30 in the outpouring of love video part) http://tinyurl.com/lp53utp
Like many people my age, Robin, first landed in my universe as the lovable television character, Mork from the planet Ork on Mork & Mindy. The show ran for only 4 years from 1978-1982, but still has a place today in many peoples hearts. Thanks to video and syndication a new generation of kids have been able to fall in love with the show. I remember being so upset when the show ended it’s tevelvsion run on ABC. Robin won four Golden Globes, playing Mork.
Robin also brought one of my favorite characters to life in Robert Altman’s “Popeye”. It quickly became one of my all time favorite films from my childhood. To this day I could never see any other actor in that role. Robin, was a character actor. What a character he was. He never played the tall dark and handsome roles. Every character was different. I loved Robin so much that his 1982 Film “The World According To Garp”, was the first rated R movie I ever saw. I remember loving the movie but was crushed by the ending. The film showed me, that not every movie has a happy ending.
As the years passed I enjoyed many of his roles. He had a way of bringing humanity to every character, he played. He always seemed like a down to earth guy. He never had an ego. The cool thing about Robin, was he never played the same character. He didn’t play it safe and wasn’t afraid to take chances (“1 Hour Photo”). The one word that could never describe him was ordinary or boring. Robin was a master of playing characters with mixed emotions. He was always believable. Who else could have played the roles and deliver a dramatic and comedic performance, with the films subjects that dealt with everything from kids with Caner (Patch Adams) to the Vietnam War (Good Morning Vietnam). My all time favorite film was the one that won him an Oscar. Robin played Dr. Sean Maguire in Gus Van Sant’s “Good Will Hunting”.
Neil Young’s Bridge Benefit XIV Oct. 28,2000
One of there coolest things about living in the Bay Area, is Neil Young hosts a special all acoustic concert at shoreline amphitheatre at mountain view. The Bridge School Benefit is an annual charity concert held in Mountain View, California, every October at the Shoreline Amphitheatre. The concerts are organized by musician Neil Young and his wife, Pegi Young. Proceeds benefit the Bridge School, which assists children with severe physical impairments and complex communication needs. The artist line up for the show was a music lovers dream. Unfortunately it poured all mooring and the lawn section at the venue looked like the mud pits from Woodstock. The show featured Tom Petty, Dave Matthews Band, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck, Foo Fighters Tegan And Sara and Crosby Stills, Nash and Young. At one point the stage hands, were pushing the water off the stage as the sound people desperately tired to get the nests bands equipment set up. Instead of playing video highlights of past years and information about the school, we heard a familiar voice. It was Robin, who was a surprise guest. “I just spoke to Noah and he says the ark should be ready shortly”. We were then treated to a 15 minute Stand-up set.
My 5 seconds meeting Robin at the “Old Dogs” Premiere in 2009
The only time I photographed Robin was at the very begging of my photography career. I didn’t start my photo career on the red carpet or with any kind of credential. I started off with only armed with a point and shoot camera. I would hang out in the fan sections with fans, collectors and other independent photographers, hoping the actors would sign autographs in the fan area so. When Robins film “Old Dogs”, premiered in Hollywood in 2009, a friend and I went down to Hollywood. It was a really strange night. This was the first premiere that John Travolta was attending since the tragic death of his son Jet. When Robin arrived, he did make it over to the fan section to sign. I was able to say a few words when he got to my area. He seemed so happy to meet his fans. The crowed took photos and got autographs. Even though they were short for time he didn’t rush through the area, before hitting the Red Carpet. Couldn’t have imaged that that would be the one and only time I’d see him.
My personal Struggle and Why I’m Mad at Robin
You know what? Fuck this! I’m mad as hell and I’m going to tell you why. Like Robin, I was able to beat addiction in the past. I’ve also battled depression for most of my life and had many thoughts of suicidal at times. When my friend told me the news of Robin’s passing, I assumed it was a heart attack or a accidental drug related death. I knew he had been in rehab twice recently. I figured he lost the fight, that so many others have lost. When I heard he took his own life. It was inconceivable. He was loved by his family, friends and millions of fans. I have been in that dark place. I’ve hit rock bottom but swam My way back to shore more than once. Robin, should have know how this would devastate his family. Celebrities have so much power. They affect and have an influence is the average persons life. It’s also a huge responsibility. That is one of the reasons I’m alive today to write this Blog.
Back in April 1994, I was with my fellow alcoholic manic depressive friend. We had been drinking hard since early that mooring, when the news about the death of Kurt Cobain, was rumored. We didn’t have cell phones, or Facebook, so I headed for a pay phone to call the local radio station. After the death was confirmed, I headed in a downward spiral that almost took my life that day. When the Average Joe or Jane, feels hopeless, like there is no hope or a way out. When someone like Robin takes his own life, it could literally drive someone over the edge. If just one person committed suicide after or the days after Robin’s passing, that is too much! Actors and musicians are more than entertainers. They are our lovers, friends and at time therapists. When I was at my darkest moments, I’d take Metallica’s “Fade To Black” out of the CD played and put The Grateful Dead’s “Touch of Grey” song on. There’s a line in the song that goes, “I will get by, I will survive”! I started expressing myself by becoming a Screenwriter. My ability to escape into a world that I have control of the outcome. Through film and love of music I learned how to cope and how to dream of a better life. This is why I’m alive, to write this blog, today. Not everyone is so lucky. If you or you know someone who needs help, call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273- TALK (8255) or talk to a friend, family member or your spiritual leader. You are not alone and there is no shame in asking for help.