Tuesday, 12 August 2014

In Memory of Robin Williams 1951-2014

This morning I woke up to the sad news that Robin Williams passed away yesterday aged 63.  Yesterday Disney's CEO Bob Iger released a statement calling Robin "a true Disney Legend, a beloved member of our family" and offered his condolences to his family.  Aladdin's official Facebook page followed suit, saying "The world just won't be the same without the magic, inspiration and laughter you brought to us all".
The cast of Broadway's Aladdin and Robin Williams' co-stars from the original animated Aladdin took to social media and joined the world in offering their own personal messages of remembrance and condolence with James Monroe Iglehart saying "Robin Williams! 1 of the Greatest Period. I just want to say Thank You for the laughs" #FallenHero" whilst Gilbert Gottfried offered a simple but poignant "From the Parrot to the Genie... #RIPRobinWilliams".
For me, Robin Williams was a large part of my childhood thanks largely to his role as the Genie.  He played more roles than I can list here and I'm ashamed to admit that I've seen less of them than I should have, especially his more recent performances, but for me three will always stand out - Peter Pan, Genie and Mrs Doubtfire.
Like many people my age, my introduction to Robin Williams was the Genie.  It's a performance that's stood the test of time and rightly gone down in history as one of his greatest roles (as Genie's animator Eric Goldberg said, if there was ever anyone tailor made for animation it was Robin), but it's not the performance that's stayed with me the most.  That is Mrs Doubtfire.  That may seem like a strange thing to say on a blog dedicated to Aladdin, and I've certainly seen Aladdin far more times than I've seen Mrs Doubtfire, but as a child of divorced parents that film spoke to me on a very personal level.  I've not seen the film in years (something I plan to rectify very soon) but I can still remember the ending, as Robin's character speaks to his children on TV through his reply to another child's letter, saying "some [families] live in separate homes, in separate neighbourhoods, in different areas of the country - and they may not see each other for days, or weeks, months, even years at a time.  But if there's love dear, those are the ties that bind, and you'll have a family in your heart forever. All my love to you, poppet, you're going to be all right. Bye-bye."  It touched me and spoke to a truth that I knew in my own life.  It stayed with me.
There has been a lot of talk in the news today about Robin Williams' battles with depression, I just pray that Peter Pan has his happy thoughts again and is able to soar to the heavens once more.  Rest in peace Robin, if anyone deserves to it's you.  Thank you for the laughter and joy that you gave to the world.
Many people today are saying that the Genie is free.  It's a fitting tribute, but for me the quote from Aladdin that sums up my feelings comes not from the Genie but from Aladdin;
"Genie, I'm... I'm gonna miss you."

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