Friday, August 15, 2014
REMEMBERING ROBIN WILLIAMS
Many years ago, when I first moved to Los Angeles, I had the good fortune of working for one of the biggest talent agencies in the world (at that time it was relatively small.) I was in awe of all the celebrities I met as a result of my working there: Sean Connery, Michael Douglas, Danny DiVito. There were some celebrities I met, however, who were beyond memorable. Robin Williams was one.
My good friend and co-worker, Jane and I volunteered each Christmas to organize a party for the Foundation of the Junior Blind, a pet project of one of the agents. Weeks before Christmas we would call, beg, and cajole various celebrities into attending the party and performing to an audience of blind and partially blind children. Over the years we welcomed Don Knotts, Tony Danza, and Penny Marshall to name a few.
One year we decided to invite Robin Williams to the party. He was at the height of his popularity, starring in the hit show, Mork and Mindy. We made several attempts to contact him on the phone (these were the days before texting, faxing, and the Internet) but could not get past his manager.
Finally, in desperation I sent Robin a telegram. (Yes, people still sent them) I don't recall the wording of the poem but I think it ended by stating "the kids would be so grateful, "na-noo, na-noo" (words he often uttered on his show.)
The night of the event arrived and we still hadn't heard from him so we assumed the party would go on with the celebrities who did show up. Suddenly the door opened. A rather upset man with a scowl on his face (Robin's manager I was soon to learn) looked up and said, unpleasantly, "Who's Vivian?" I stepped forward and a cheerful Robin Williams came over to shake my hand and Jane's and to thank us for inviting him.
Robin walked on stage to a thunder of applause. He looked directly at the kids and said, "It's a pleasure to be here as you can see....oh no wait....you can't see!" We held our breaths waiting for the response to this quip. The kids went wild, laughing and clapping at what he had just said.
They, and we, could feel the genuine affection he had for these children.
As he did for so many people, Robin Williams brought joy into my life and into the lives of my family. Thank God we have him on film. He was a brilliantly funny, sweet, and generous man -- a treasure who will be greatly missed.