Robin Williams’ death was perhaps more impactful than similar celebrity deaths, if only because his body of work appealed to such a remarkably large audience. He was the doting father who would do anything for his children in Mrs. Doubtfire. He was the Genie that could grant you your greatest desires in Aladdin. He was the teacher that made you believe you could be anything in Dead Poets Society. And he was the charming, playful Peter Pan in Neverland, where he taught us to always have faith in ourselves, be adventurous, and to take advantage of the short time we have on Earth — because nothing lasts forever, so you may as well try to fly.
When we came to learn of his passing on August 11th, 2014, it was hard to fathom. The idea that Williams, frequently touted as the “funniest man in the world”, could purposefully leave behind his wife and three children — along with his throngs of fans — was simply too shocking and too tragic to fully digest. It is still hard to believe.
Yet his untimely death sparked a conversation regarding the stigma associated with mental health, something Williams himself had often spoken about during his life. A long-standing sufferer of bipolar disorder, an affliction that is sometimes (unfortunately) glamorized as part of the artmanship that makes an ordinary creative soul an extraordinary one, Williams’ passing broke open the floodgates for public awareness regarding, among other things, the link between humor and depression. Though it was later found that he was suffering from a rare malady known as Lewy body dementia at the time of his death, it does very little to change the impact of the loss. We have so many things to thank the great talent for.
On that note, here are 15 memorable Robin Williams quotes, as spoken by the characters he graciously brought to life for all of us.
Genie: “But oh, to be free. Not to have to go “Poof! What do you need, “Poof! What do you need, Poof! What do you need?” To be my own master. Such a thing would be greater than all the magic and all the treasures in all the world.”
Leslie Zevo: “In the words of Mahatma Gumby, ‘We are toys of tolerance, but there’s only so much that a toy can tolerate.’”
3) Mrs. Doubtfire
Mrs. Doubtfire: “Some parents, when they’re angry, get along much better when they don’t live together. They don’t fight all the time, and they can become better people, and much better mummies and daddies for you. And sometimes they get back together. And sometimes they don’t, dear. And if they don’t, don’t blame yourself. Just because they don’t love each other anymore, doesn’t mean that they don’t love you. There are all sorts of different families, Katie. 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.”
4) Good Will Hunting
Sean Maguire: “If I asked you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet, but you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes. Feelin’ like God put an angel on Earth just for you, who could rescue you from the depths of hell. — And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her be there forever. You don’t know about real loss, ‘cause that only occurs when you love something more than you love yourself.”
5) Deconstructing Harry
Harry Block: “All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we choose to distort it.”
6) Patch Adams
Hunter Patch Adams: “You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.”
7) Bicentennial Man
Andrew Martin: “I try to make sense of things. Which is why, I guess, I believe in destiny. There must be a reason that I am as I am. There must be.”
8) August Rush
Wizard: “What do you want to be in the world? I mean the whole world. What do you want to be? Close your eyes and think about that.”
9) World’s Greatest Dad
Lance Clayton: “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.”
10) Dead Poet’s Society
John Keating: “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”
Dr. Malcolm Sayer: “The human spirit is more powerful than any drug and that is what needs to be nourished: with work, play, friendship, family. These are the things that matter.”
12) Good Morning Vietnam
“You’re only given a little spark of madness, you mustn’t lose it.”
Jack Powell: “Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day, make a wish, and think of me. Make your life spectacular.”
Here’s to you, Robin Williams.
July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014
Image: Fernan Tadeo