Robin Williams was recently honored in a private memorial service which took place on Saturday, Sept. 27. Attending guests included Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, George Lucas, and Ben Stiller among many others, according to FOX News. The event took place at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco among close family and friends.
Billy Crystal was reportedly in tears when he opened the memorial service. E! Online stated Whoopi Goldberg and Bonnie Hunt had also delivered emotional speeches. William’s three children and wife, Susan Schneider also spoke, while Stevie Wonder was reported as providing some of the music.
Williams died on August 11, 2014 at his home in San Francisco due to suicide by asphyxia. The actor is best remembered for his roles in such movies as Dead Poets Society, Goodwill Hunting, Aladdin, and Mrs. Doubtfire. He was 63 years old.
As with any other person who was shocked and saddened on that Monday afternoon when announcements were made that this famous and beloved actor had suddenly passed away, this author was also struck by immediate shock and disbelief.
A man whose career had brought comedic films and touched the lives of so many fans had died suddenly in his home due to suicide. One may have immediately asked how this was possible given the image of a man who brought joy and laughter to many parts of the world. Could no one see the real pain behind his eyes, or the mental state he was in prior to his departure? Apparently not.
Robin Williams was a talented actor who may best be remembered as the hopeful doctor in Patch Adams, or as the voice of the zany genie in Aladdin. He was the transformed woman in Mrs. Doubtfire, and the mentor in Goodwill Hunting. These are the roles Williams played in beloved movies, and he was loved for them as well because he brought these roles to life, just like any other talented actor would do in a film.
No one can be sure of the life Williams lived outside of his career, except for his own family. Even then, no one can really be sure of what went on inside his mind. Williams had been through two divorces, a recent sitcom which was cancelled after only one season, and the beginning stages of Parkinson’s disease, according to Guardian Liberty Voice (GLV).
Alexandria Ingham of GLV reported that Rob Schneider and others had claimed pharmaceutical drugs may have contributed to the suicide of Williams. Schneider specifically referred to drugs Williams had used to treat his diseases, which allegedly may cause suicidal tendencies, particularly in those who also suffer from depression.
Ingham stated Williams was reportedly on various medications after leaving rehab. She mentioned his friends had said he was familiar with bouts of depression and anxiety, so his suicide could not have been caused by such ailments. In fact, they strongly believe it was due to “the cocktail of medications he was on to help treat his Parkinson’s diagnoses and his depression.”
Rebecca Grace of GLV reported Williams was “devastated” by the cancellation of a new show called The Crazy Ones. The CBS sitcom had portrayed Williams as an executive of an advertising agency whose name was Simon Roberts. Grace stated Williams had been reportedly worried about his ability to achieve active roles in the entertainment industry during the months leading up to the launch of the show, which may also be why he checked into rehabilitation soon after the cancellation of it.
It is possible one may think demands in life are tough for just about everyone, and that the way people handle them are telling of how a person handles the grip of his or her own life. For example, Williams had been through two divorces. According to a blog opinion by Linda Stasi of New York Daily News, Williams paid more than $30 million in alimony to his two ex-wives. Stasi states this demand would make anyone become angry or depressed, even Gandhi.
Stasi goes on to define what she believes should be modern-day alimony, particularly from the point of view of a divorced woman. Still, the point in Williams’ case was that the damage had already been done – who would not be depressed over these types of legal demands, particularly after also departing to a separate bedroom the night before his suicide took place.
Williams obviously had a lot on his plate and it appears he was good at acting like everything was fine in his daily life – that there was no real need to call for help, until he did so by going to rehab. Though Williams’ doctors can only be sure of his diagnoses and treatments, it is no laughing matter that the man may have taken his own life due to heavy societal demands and expectations, decreased self-worth, diagnose of a medical condition, and ultimately, giving up.
Robin Williams was honored at a private memorial service this past Saturday to commemorate his legacy and contribution to the world. Hundreds of guests gathered who may relate to him by family, career, or simply by the influential entertainment industry. Ultimately, those who remember him for his dedication to comedy and joy, while also understanding his personal struggle will help to contribute to his ever-lasting memory.
Opinion By Liz Pimentel