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En español | Reflections on some of Robin Williams’ most beloved TV and movie roles that inspired us to laugh, dream and cry.
His most recent TV sitcom lasts just one season, but Williams, starring as an ad exec working with his daughter (Sarah Michelle Gellar), plays it with charm and brings to it the experience of his own life. It is just one of the last roles (he still has three movies coming) to showcase his manic comic brilliance. Here, a look at the most memorable others.
The ABC sitcom that rocketed Williams into the national pop culture consciousness is at one time watched by 60 million people weekly. His alien Mork from Ork and Pam Dawber’s Mindy McConnell are riotous roommates who try to make sense of each other’s world.
In the 1987 Barry Levinson comedy, Williams proves he’s got movie star qualities. His performance as wildly popular Armed Services DJ Adrian Cronauer is worthy of an Oscar nomination.
In a serious role as Professor John Keating, Williams surprises his audience and inspires his students — among them young actors Robert Sean Leonard and Ethan Hawke — to seize the day.
He is only heard in this animated Disney comedy, but there is no doubt that it is Williams’ brilliance behind the hilarious Genie and town Merchant. Children watch for the Aladdin and Jasmine adventure, but grownups are busy trying to catch all the lightning-quick wordplay going over the kids’ heads.
In another role from children’s storybooks, Williams takes on Peter Pan’s nemesis, Captain Hook, working with Steven Spielberg, Dustin Hoffman and Julia Roberts (as Tinker Bell).
Could anything be funnier than Williams in drag? In this classic Williams comedy, he plays a divorced father who disguises himself as a Scottish nanny in order to be closer to his kids. He had planned to reprise the role.
Williams earns an Oscar and a Screen Actors Guild award for this touching drama written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. In another noncomic role, Williams slows it down to play Damon’s therapist — a man who is able to help the damaged, gifted mathematician open up to the world.
Williams is well cast as a doctor who believes in the power of humor to heal. The movie is based on the real-life Patch Adams, a physician, writer and clown.
Williams comes to the aid of the star of this show, Ben Stiller, when, as Teddy Roosevelt, he helps Stiller’s security guard understand how the exhibits in the museum come to life at night.
Robert Love | Editor in chief of AARP The Magazine.
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