Robin McLaurin Williams is a multi-award-winning
American actor and comedian who was born in Chicago,
Illinois and raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
He first achieved notice for his stand-up routines
in San Francisco. Garry Marshall cast him as the alien
Mork in a guest star part in Happy Days that was so
popular it led to his own television series, Mork and
Mindy, which ran from 1978 to 1982. The majority of
his acting career has been for cinema, although he
has made some memorable performances on stage as well
(notably as Estragon in a production of Waiting for
Williams' first starring roles in Popeye and in The
World According to Garp were both major flops, but
with Good Morning Vietnam Williams established a screen
identity. Many of his roles have been comic (eg. The
Birdcage, Mrs. Doubtfire). In particular, his role
as the Genie in the animated film, Aladdin was instrumental
in establishing the importance of star power in voice
actor casting. He has also starred in serious movies
(Awakenings , What Dreams May Come) and in 1998 he
won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his role
as a psychologist in Good Will Hunting. However, by
the early 2000s, his choices for dramatic roles grew
to be criticized as overly mawkish and sentimental,
especially 1998's Patch Adams, prompting him to temporarily
dabble in villainous roles such as in Insomnia and
One Hour Photo.
Williams' is known for his wild improv skills and
impersonations. He is a talented mimic and can jump
in and out of characters at an extremely fast pace.
His comic style is a major influence on late night
talk show host/comedian Conan O'Brien. Williams states
that he began doing impersonations as a child mimicking
the Southern accent of his aunt.
Robin Williams and his wife Marsha Garces Williams
founded the Windfall Foundation, a philanthropic organization
to raise money for many different charities. Robin
Williams devotes much of his energy doing work for
charities, including the Comic Relief fund-raising
Williams first marriage was to Valerie Velardi on
June 4, 1978, with whom he had one child, Zachary.
Williams apparently fell in love with his son's nanny,
Marsha Garces, which resulted in the end of his first
marriage in 1988. He subsequently married for the second
time, this time to Marsha Garces Williams on April
30, 1989. They have two children together.
Watching his frantic mannerisms and immediate changes
in personality, some have speculated that Williams
is affected by bipolar disorder, but this has never
been confirmed. A more likely explanation for his remarkable
creativity and intense impulsive humor may be the reason
that he is often referred to as "the poster child
for ADD," though this statement is often said
with a sarcastic edge.
In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, he
was voted amongst the top 50 comedy acts ever by fellow
comedians and comedy insiders.