Arts & Entertainment

Locals Reflect on the Passing of Robin Williams

Garry Marshall and Paul Greenstone. Read how the story of Robin Williams' audition for Happy Days was told to Paul by Garry in this article. Credits: provided by Paul Greenstone

LIVINGSTON, NJ - The world lost a comic genius today with the death of Robin Williams, 63. From his days on Happy Days (1975), Mork and Mindy (1978), and role in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) to his stand up acts, Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in Good Will Hunting (1997), and most recently his canceled sitcom The Crazy Ones, Williams touched many lives with his gift of acting, improvisation and spot-on comedic timing. He will next be seen in the third installment of Night at the Museum, in December, and was signed for the next installment of Mrs. Doubfire.

On Monday, a press release issued by the Marin County Coronor’s office stated that the 911 call came in around noon, and that the Sheriff’s office suspected Williams’ death to be “suicide due to asphyxia.”

While a host of publications and blogs are quoting President Obama and other fellow actors on this loss, TAP into Livingston reached out to the local community for comments on how Williams’ death has affected them. For some, Williams’ humor helped them through rough times, others simply enjoyed his talent and others are disheartened that his demons won out.

“Classic example of the sadness that sometimes hides behind the face of the clown,” said Howard Diamond of Branchburg.

“Income, talent, stature, race, religion—NONE make you immune from the cycle of depression and substance abuse,” said Michael A. Zakkour of Livingston. “Robin Williams made me cry with laughter since 1978 with his stand up, his movies and TV. Another soul lost. He left behind a legacy. Make 'em laugh up there Robin Williams.“

“I am graduating from nursing school next year and Patch Adams was a huge inspiration for me,” said Margia Fonseca of Roseland. “I'll keep that movie in my heart as I begin my career in medicine. God bless you Robin Williams. Greatest of all time.”

New York resident and LHS 1986 graduate Meryl Ravitz said, “RIP Robin Williams. I remember meeting him in DC when he was testifying on the hill to help the homeless. I admire the work he did for charity. His efforts and humor will be missed.”

Ravitz added, “I'll actually never forget it because afterwards everyone was running up to him going, "Hey Mork," and I went up and complemented him on his work with the homeless and comic relief and he was so appreciative—especially because that's why he was there. Back then, celebrities weren't big on charity but he was!”

“Robin Williams was truly an amazing person,” said Kirsten Johnson of West Caldwell. “He was such a large part of my childhood and he has definitely made a huge impression on my life. Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook, Jumanji—these movies made me so happy on hard days. One of my favorite quotes is, ‘No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world...,’ from Dead Poet's Society. Robin Williams definitely changed the world with his happy funny outlook and his strong talent as a comic and actor.”

“I saw Robin Williams live on my 40th birthday at The Comedy Cellar in NYC,” said Fabienne Crimi of Florham Park. “I never laughed so hard. He will be missed!”

Bruce Titen, a 1986 LHS graduate, now residing in Edison said, “I remember watching his HBO Special at Rob Klein 's house in high school with like 20 people in the basement. We were all laughing so hard and repeated his jokes for days after at school.”

“I can't say I met Robin Williams, but I saw him perform at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood, while I worked there in the early 90's,” said James Isherwood, who grew up in Livingston and now lives in Randolph. “I stood around backstage with a group of folks, including Robin, while he continued his riff—he was manic, hilarious, scary, emotional, loving, intense and extremely talented. He'd never remember me, but I sure remember very sad.”

“Years ago, I befriended Garry Marshall and we once talked about casting Robin Williams in Happy Days," said Paul Greenstone, a 1985 LHS graduate, who now lives in the Bay Area in Ca. “Apparently, he did a great job in the audition and was getting a call back to read for Garry, and the casting director told him to audition the same way, but to somehow make it memorable. When Robin came in to audition, instead of sitting down, like he was told to do, he did a handstand and did the audition upside down.”

Greenstone added, “I met Robin at an Oscar party about 10 years ago and we chatted and I brought up the audition and we chuckled about it.”

"When I was a child, I would watch Mork and Mindy over and over again in our home on Pleasant Valley Way in West Orange,” said Lynn (Goldman) Pattnosh, who now resides in Ketchum, Idaho. “Robin Williams made me ‘want to do that.’ Years later, I was the Casting Associate on Life with Bonnie and watching him work up close with Bonnie Hunt is one of my favorite professional memories. It's not only that Robin Williams was hysterical, but he was a generous and honest actor—and that is why we all love him."

“He was a once-in-a-generation talent,” said Herbie Raskin of West Orange.

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