Larry Vaughn with Mentora Vaughn Gratrix
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Remembering Robin Williams…

Seize the day. Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold and die.
—Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society

This past Monday people were stunned to hear the horrible news that Robin Williams was dead. The shock of Mr. Williams’ passing reverberated literally around the civilized world. Entertainment websites crashed due to the massive overload of traffic, while brokenhearted fans of all ages were anxiously wanting to express their deepest sympathy upon hearing the tragic news of his suicide.

Robin Williams was a very unusual and gifted man. Outside of his personal life, that of being a husband and a father, he was also a man of great talents. His colleagues in the Hollywood entertainment industry made reference to him as the comedian’s comedian. However, when an acting role came along that required a character of drama, Mr. Williams would step into that character and act accordingly. Interestingly, his only Academy Award came from the drama, Good Will Hunting, in which he won the Best Supporting Actor award for his performance as a psychology professor and therapist.

Lastly, but, most certainly, not least, Robin Williams was a humanitarian. Only the Lord knows the impact this man had on the lives of so many people. During his life, he gave endless hours to a variety of needy organizations. Like the late actor Bob Hope, Robin Williams circled the globe as part of the USO, where he entertained our troops and their families.

Like so many millions of people, I grew up with Robin Williams being a part of my life. No, I never met the man; however, I have spent many hours in screening rooms watching his movies. I remember screening Mrs. Doubtfire; I was in Atlantic City at a theatre convention. During the screening, I was mentally counting all the theatres I had the film committed to play in. I loved the film, and I wanted to be absolutely sure I had it booked everywhere. If Robin Williams weren’t cast as Mrs. Doubtfire, I doubt the film would have been the box-office hit that it ended up being.

I remember the untimely deaths of other stage and screen legends: Elvis, Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, and most recently Philip Seymour Hoffman. These men, like Robin Williams, all died before their time. Yet, as I recall, even the death of entertainment giants like Elvis and Michael Jackson didn’t have everybody embracing them for who they were. I hate it when people say something bad about someone after they are dead—but, it happens, especially with all our social media tools. However, unless I just missed it, I have heard nothing but good things said about Robin Williams.

When someone is battling cancer, naturally, we want to be there for them. And, when we hear the cancer is in remission we rejoice with them that they are winning the battle. The same is true when we hear of someone struggling with other health issues: their heart, multiple sclerosis, etc.

However, depression, well, it is tough for everyone. Quite often, even the person that is depressed doesn’t like being stuck with themself. Many times depressed people don’t even know why they are depressed, which is frustrating to them as well as those individuals around them. In my life experiences, I have heard folks say strange things. For example, he is depressed, and I am not going to put up with it. Ummm, what does that mean? I have often heard that good can come out of a bad situation. Wouldn’t it be good if the death of Robin Williams would be a signal for help to the loved ones of the millions of people who struggle with depression today.

Trivia: Robin Williams met the man who became his best friend while they were roommates at The Julliard School. Who was that man?

Answer: The real Superman: Christopher Reeve

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11 Responses

  1. I really enjoyed this post Larry. Robin Williams was one of my favorite actors. And my all time favorite, hands down, was Mrs. Doubtfire. Such a kind and generous man. And a such a tragic loss. Too soon. Too soon.

  2. Thank you. Larry, for this thoughtful piece. I believe that in many ways our society is in the Dark Ages (and there is no pun intended there) when it comes to enlightenment about mental health issues and acceptance of depression and the whole spectrum of mental health disorders as legitimate. We have no problem seeing someone with a broken bone as needing attention, or someone with diabetes as needing insulin. I wish that mental health issues were not still so shrouded in secrecy and shame. Then maybe people with mental health issues and their loved ones would be able to come forward to bring about some real change. Yes, progress has been made, but not nearly enough.

    • Larry Vaughn says:

      Thank you Blanche for your comments on depression. I am hopeful through Mr. Williams tragic death that people will be more sensitive to this illness.

  3. Tommy says:

    Larry, not being an avid movie goer, I never thought much about Mr. Williams, yet I did enjoy his films. Your writing has really made me aware that “movie stars” have the same ups and downs as everyone else.

  4. Larry Terrell says:

    Hope you are doing well, good to see you are still out there.

    Larry Terrell

    • Larry Vaughn says:

      Larry, I was shocked to hear from you. Glad you found our blog. Wow, hearing from you brings back some great memories.

  5. Larry Terrell says:

    We have Showsouth at Chateau Elan this week and there a few of the old faces still around. Rex Norris directed me to your site.

    • Larry Vaughn says:

      Glad you found me. Hope you are doing well. What are you up to these days? Are you still riding your Harley? Or was that a dumb question?

      • Larry Terrell says:

        You can find Joan and I on facebook to see what we are up to. But a synopsis would be, yes I am still riding my Harley. I currently have a 2010 Ultra Limited, all the bells and whistles with 67000 + miles on it. Joan rides with me on lunch rides and the occasional overnighter. Joan is a technical writer at Zaxby’s Franchising, and is an accomplished oil on canvas impressionistic artist. We also like to ride around Lake Lanier on our pontoon. All the film people survived Showsouth and are on their way home. Got to run, more later….take care …LT

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