Robin Williams was perhaps the most beloved comedian and star of his era. Starting in the late 1970’s, Williams brand of frenetic, stream of consciousness stand-up delighted crowds everywhere. He had bit roles on television until he starred as the alien Mork from Ork on the 70’s sitcom “Happy Days”. Following that success he received his own spin-off “Mork and Mindy”, and with that his popularity exploded.
So, what led to Robin Williams untimely suicide in 2014? Sam Neil, the legendary actor that worked with Robin Williams on the 1999 movie ” Bicentennial Man”, opened up in his new autobiography about his relationship with the troubled icon. Check this out
Actor Sam Neill opened up about his relationship with late comedy icon Robin Williams in his memoir released Tuesday.
Neill, 79, worked with the late Williams in the 1999 movie “Bicentennial Man,” a sci-fi romance about an android that gradually develops emotional capabilities. During filming, Neill says in his new book “Did I Ever Tell You This?” he and Williams had “great chats.”
“We would talk about this and that, sometimes even about the work we were about to do,” Neill wrote of his experience, referring to Williams as “irresistibly, outrageously, irrepressibly, gigantically funny.”
Sam Neil in the Bicentennial Man movie with Robin Williams. pic.twitter.com/wIgT0nIplw
— 🏴☠️xBuckRileyx 💫🌱 (@_xBRx_) October 27, 2013
Williams had the ability to ad-lib and be funnier than any other comedians during his prime. However, as is the case with many comics, Williams used the laughter to hide his pain and insecurity.
What no one realized, including Williams, is that it wasn’t his fault. He suffered from a rare brain disorder that literally would not allow him to feel happiness.
“He had fame, he was rich, people loved him, great kids—the world was his oyster. And yet I felt more sorry for him than I can express. He was the loneliest man on a lonely planet,” Neill wrote of his former co-star. He described Williams as “inconsolably solitary and deeply depressed.”Neill suggested that Williams’ comedic ability was a form of self-medication. “Funny stuff just poured out of him,” Neill noted. “And everybody was in stitches, and when everybody was in stitches, you could see Robin was happy.”
Williams committed suicide at the age of 63, in August 2014. A year after his death, his widow revealed that he’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and was given three years of a fairly unhappy, painful life with the disease before he would succumb to it.
What no one realized is Williams was found to have an extremely rare disease. It was only discovered after an autopsy was done on his brain postmortem. The initial diagnosis was Parkinson’s, but the autopsy showed that to be inaccurate. Williams in fact had a condition called Lewy body dementia.
Lewy body dementia has more than 40 symptoms that can randomly appear and disappear, Schneider Williams said. Categorically, the signs include impaired thinking, fluctuations in attention, problems with movement, visual hallucinations, sleep disorders, behavioral and mood issues, and changes in bodily functions such as the ability to control urinating.
What “marked the beginning of a cascade of symptoms” was when her husband started experiencing never-ending fear and anxiety, Schneider Williams said. It began to happen in 2012 when Williams started to pull back from engaging with people at the Throckmorton Theatre in California, where he would try new material out and riff with other comedians just for fun, she added.
The anxieties persisted beyond what Williams had experienced in the past and what is normal for a beloved actor living with the pressures of being on a world stage.
Eventually, paranoia was another significant symptom, Schneider Williams said. “It was the amygdala region of his brain that had a ginormous amount of the Lewy bodies. So that area of the brain is really our ability to regulate our emotions, particularly fear and anxiety. And Robin’s was basically broken.”
Essentially Williams could no longer physically feel happiness, and he was powerless to do anything about it. The Parkinson’s diagnosis and subsequent grim outlook led to his suicide, but the Lewy body dementia made him powerless to fight back. Sadly he succumbed to his condition.
Sam Neil sheds some light on who Williams was and how he was before his death. It was a sad fate for a gifted performer, but alas in the end he was powerless to help himself.
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