We are weary of those that are self-absorbed to the point of throwing tantrums if their outrageous demands and extreme requests aren’t met.
Brian Lord, who is the senior V.P. at Premiere Speakers Bureau has seen them all.
Until he contacted Robin William’s team, inquiring about his availability for an event.
The reply came back with terms, and one ‘rider’, the part of the contract agreement where a performer stipulates any extra demands that they require, be it the food, trailer size, backstage conditions, what have you.
Wrote Brian, “When I got Robin Williams’ rider, I was very surprised by what I found. He actually had a requirement that, for every single event or film he did, the company hiring him also had to hire a certain number of homeless people and put them to work.
I never watched a Robin Williams movie the same way after that. I’m sure that on his own time and with his own money, he was working with these people in need, but he’d also decided to use his clout as an entertainer to make sure that production companies and event planners also learned the value of giving people a chance to work their way back.“
Ever since Moscow on the Hudson, in 1984, that rider was included.
And that all the homeless of a given locale would be fed, so bring an extra commissary truck.
Oh, and bring vouchers to local motels so they can get rest before they appear on set.
His acts of kindness and giving back defined the man.
- He and good friends Billy Crystal And Whoopi hosted Comic Relief from it’s inception.
Comic Relief’s mission is to raise funds to help those in need….particularly America’s homeless. Raising over $100 million to providing assistance and health care service to homeless people and to raise awareness of not only the awful realities but also how many "ordinary" people can wind up or grow up homeless.
- He spent more time overseas with our troops over the decades than near any other performer in history, rivaling Bob Hope.
Six USO tours in sixteen countries, including wartime Iraq and Afghanistan.
He understood what those that witnessed horror needed most…..understanding and humour.
2007, Camp Arifjan in Kuwait —
- His best friend was Christopher Reeve.
They first met when they were youngsters, at Juilliard.
Said Robin, “Chris was literally feeding me because I don’t think I literally had money for food or my student loan hadn’t come in yet, and he would share his food with me.”
After the equestrian accident that left Chris a quadriplegic, he was sinking into deep despair.
Robin was there daily.
Remembered Chris, “At an especially bleak moment, the door flew open and in hurried a squat fellow with a blue scrub hat and a yellow surgical gown and glasses, speaking in a Russian accent. He announced that he was my proctologist, and that he had to examine me immediately…it was Robin Williams…for the first time since the accident, I laughed. My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay.”
Robin made it clear that the Reeve's shouldn't unduly concern themselves with finances.... and he founded a scholarship program at Juilliard for those in need.
- At the time of the making of Schindler’s List, Robin would call up Steven Spielberg in the evening, to lift his spirits and make him laugh.
- Robin was in the final running for the lead role in The Shining, but Stanley Kubrick rejected the idea because Robin was “too psychotic.”
Which, considering this…..
- During his sole audition for the role of Mork, ever kinetic Robin couldn’t sit down and was moving all over the room.
Garry Marshall asked him to please sit down.
So Robin sat on his head.
Garry hired him on the spot. “He was the only alien who auditioned.”
- Robin was the first male cheerleader in NFL history, when in 1979, he was a cheerleader for the entire second half for the Denver Broncos.
But halfway through......
(As an aside: The Broncos routed the Patriots 45-10).
- His most special moments?
His bond with Koko.
Back in 2001, Williams visited the Gorilla Foundation in California and met with Koko, a gorilla who uses American Sign Language to communicate. During their encounter, Williams and Koko laughed, tickled each other and hugged like old friends. On Monday, Koko overheard Dr. Penny Patterson, her mentor and surrogate mother, talking on the phone about Williams’ death. “She became extremely sad,” Patterson wrote on Koko.org.
“Robin’s ability to just ‘hang out’ with Koko, a gorilla, and in minutes become one of her closest friends, was extraordinary and unforgettable,” Patterson continued in a tribute post to Williams, who was an ambassador for Great Ape conservation.
“I recently had a mind-altering experience communicating with a gorilla,” Williams said in the video. “We shared something extraordinary: Laughter. Koko understands spoken English and uses over 1,000 signs to share her feelings and thoughts about daily events, life, love, even death. It was awesome and unforgettable.”
“Notice that Robin made Koko smile — something she hadn’t done for over six months, ever since her childhood gorilla companion, Michael, passed away at the age of 27,” Patterson wrote. “But not only did Robin cheer up Koko, the effect was mutual, and Robin seemed transformed.”
- Robin was heavily involved with both St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which itself was heavily involved in the filming of Patch Adams.
To try and understand the massive yet gentle heart of Patch, and to expand their own, Robin and the entire cast would spend time with very ill children.
These children would end up in the film as the kids Patch interacts with in the pediatric scenes.
- His favorite book as an adult was the Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series.
"It's one of the greatest books of all time, and the greatest character is The Mule."
As a child, it was Chronicles of Narnia's 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.'"
-His favorite role was with Robert DeNiro in Awakenings.
"I think playing Oliver Sachs in Awakenings was a gift because I got to meet him, and got to explore the human brain from the inside out. Because Oliver writes about human behavior subjectively and that for me was the beginning of a fascination with human behavior."
-His favorite hobby was cycling.
"My favorite thing to do is ride a bicycle. I ride road bikes. And for me, it's mobile meditation."
- He learned to cook really well by visiting Martha Stewart at home, and they formed a tight bond.
And he was a frequent guest on her show.
Martha knew full well that by telling Robin to "rub it into the meat", she was letting him loose and setting the stage for comedy heaven.
- Robin waking up an unsuspecting space shuttle crew in 1988, from NASA Ground Control.
I could gladly go on in this vein all afternoon, with dramatic clips of Robin from the Fisher King, Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, Moscow On The Hudson, What Dreams May Come, Good Morning, Vietnam, etc etc etc, or recalling the countless instances of kindness to ordinary folk, humble and without airs, never refusing a picture or being too much in a hurry to listen, to share and commiserate or the backstories behind all the benefits and charities and scholarships he founded…... but we all have terribly depressing current events and despicable people to revile….. so i’ll end with this one clip.
It was the only copy of it i could find, and this copy is rough.
But, with a wasted Jack Nicholson, it defines Robin for me.
A tie with three people, and Robin lost.
So so funny.
Enough to have a usually stoic Daniel Day- Lewis bent over.
But even more, it shows just how beloved and treasured he was by his peers.
Someone who could transcend politics and have those that never met him, feel like they lost a dear, dear friend.
Seven years, now.
When i think of Robin, i smile.... often accompanied by tears.
What a gift.
Thank you all for indulging my meandering whimsy.
It doesn’t get any better.