Personal detailsName: Robin Williams
Born: 21 July 1951 (Age: 63)
Where: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Height: 5' 8"
Awards: Won 1 Oscar, 5 Golden Globes, nominated for 2 BAFTAs
All about this star
Comedians have always had a tough time building a long-term career in cinema. For a start, as genuinely funny scripts are few and far between, they're usually forced to draw on their own well-worn routines and, after a few pictures, begin to bore their audience. No matter how brilliant, no comedian can keep carrying movies by sheer weight of personality, not indefinitely. Eddie Murphy and Steve Martin are proof of that. No, to really last, they must break through that barrier, become accepted as "proper" actors, and VERY few have done that.
Indeed, recently, there's only been one who's managed to take that mighty step. And, in many ways, he was the most unlikely of them all. Known to the world as the gibbering, gurning, beaming alien Mork from Ork, Robin Williams stood a very high chance of never, EVER being taken seriously. How could he be? Mork aside, in his stand-up routines he was a whirlwind of snappy one-liners, brilliant impressions and surreal asides, his ideas falling like rain. His first cinematic breakthrough, Good Morning Vietnam, was just Williams being Williams. So were other mega-hits, Mrs Doubtfire and Aladdin. The Oscar for Good Will Hunting was just for a cameo, really. A fluke. The guy could never really ACT. He'd never be able to stand still long enough.
Yet he could act. In fact, he HAD acted, quite brilliantly, before the box-office hits came. And, when the time came, in 2002, to spread his wings once again, he acted his ass off. Three movies, three characters, all killers but all different. Up against the King of Gravitas Al Pacino, he held his own. And up against the young pretender to the crown, Ed Norton. Now there was no denying it. The lightweight funny-man was actually a heavyweight artist.
He was born Robin McLaurim Williams on the 21st of July, 1951, in Chicago, Illinois, to a well-to-do family. His father, Robert, was an executive for the Ford Motor Company, while his mother, Laurie, was a fashion model. Both had children, by now grown, from earlier relationships. Robert's son Todd would later own a winery (and appear in Mrs Doubtfire, credited as Mr Toad), while Laurie's son became a High School chemistry teacher. As his step-brothers had left home, Robin was raised as an only child.
With Robert rising through the ranks at Ford, the family moved wherever his appointments took him. When Robert was transferred to Detroit, they shifted from Chicago to a 40-room farm-house in Bloomfield Hills. These were tough times for Robin, who later described his young self as "short, shy, chubby and lonely".