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Robin Williams Dead of Apparent Suicide


Actor Robin Williams has died at the age of 63. He appears to have committed suicide, according to the LA Times. [UPDATE: The LA Times confirms that Williams died by hanging himself.]

MORE: Read remembrances of Robin Williams by Eric Goldberg, John Musker and Ron Clements.

Williams voiced the Genie in Disney’s 1992 film Aladdin. He was also a big fan of animated filmmaking. He portrayed the titular hero in Robert Altman’s 1980 film Popeye.


Williams was a go-to presenter for animation-related Oscars. He presented honorary Oscars to Warner Bros. animation director Chuck Jones (see below) and animation producer Walter Lantz, as well as special achievement Oscars to Richard Williams and John Lasseter.

In addition to his role as the Genie, Williams voiced other animated characters, including Batty Koda in Fern Gully, Ramon and Lovelace in the Happy Feet series, Fender in Robots, and the kiwi in the TV special A Wish for Wings That Work. Williams also voiced the cartoon characters in the Chuck Jones-directed opening of Mrs. Doubtfire.

He appeared both in person and as an animated character in Back to Neverland, an animated short that played at Disney/MGM Studios’ Animation Pavilion. The director of that project, Jerry Rees, has a page on his website documenting its making.

Director Jerry Rees and Robin Williams during the filming of
Director Jerry Rees and Robin Williams.

Williams also supported independent animators, and spoke highly of the films of Faith Hubley, once telling an interviewer:

“My kids discovered her when I asked my son if he wanted to go watch a Disney movie and he said, ‘No, I don’t dad.’ So I put in a Faith Hubley movie and he would just watch it like he was seeing Picasso moving. He would watch her movies over and over again, and they were magnificent because they would talk about all these different careers and religions, history— it was like Elmer Fudd doing A Street Car Named Desire.

UPDATE #1: According to an anonymous Cartoon Brew commenter, Williams was also a fan of anime, and incorporated references to anime into his films. For example, in One Hour Photo, he added a reference to the Japanese series Neon Genesis Evangelion:

UPDATE #2: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences referenced Williams’ role as the Genie in their condolence tweet:

  • Paul N

    He also voiced Batty in “Ferngully.”

    • jonhanson

      I watched Ferngully not too long ago and thought “the bat’s voice actor is doing a pretty obvious Robin Williams impression.” Imagine my surprise learning it was really him, given the general quality of the film I just assumed they wouldn’t be able to get the real deal.

    • Kirby

      Aside from Aladdin, I recall watching Ferngully as a child.

      A lot of films these days just pick celebrities for their fame value. Williams certainly wasn’t just an actor. I’m no representative but I’m sure he had his place in the animation / voice acting community.

  • Anonymous

    I know we don’t usually talk about the Japanese industry on this site (presumably because it’s so massive that it would overshadow the American discussion and there are already plenty of sites for discussing anime), but I think it’s worth mentioning that Williams loved Japanese animation and even put references to his favorite animes in some of his movies.

    This toy came from Williams’ personal collection and he insisted it be in the movie.

    • Docwhovian

      He also named his daughter Zelda after the popular Japanese Nintendo game series

    • Mister Twister

      Thanks for the link.

    • jonhanson

      According to an interview on Reddit he was also a big fan of “Ghost in the Shell. Akira. Blood: The Last Vampire. But mostly Ghost in the Shell.” He later adds that he likes Cowboy Bebop too and had a copy of Fullmetal Alchemist but never watched it.

      I wish he had stuck around if just to see some more good cartoons. I know that’s what I tell myself sometimes when I don’t feel like going on.

    • starss

      He stipulated that if an American studio ever made a live-action Pokemon movie, he’d want to play Professor Oak.

  • Scrap Doodle


  • AmidAmidi

    I haven’t seen the film in a while. Does this scene reference asphyxiation somehow?

    • Shanae

      In that scene he’s saying “such a crick in the neck!” So not really, but some people might take it as what Tom pointed out. I’d just be cautious and maybe change it if it bothers people.

      • AmidAmidi

        Thanks. I didn’t realize that. I’ve gone ahead and changed the image so there are no misunderstandings about the post.

        • Tom

          Thanks, man. It’s too raw yet and it might be easy to have anything blow back on CB.

        • Guest

          Turned out to be a wise move, as the cause of death was defined in this morning’s press conference as hanging.

  • Shanae

    “He also a big fan of animated filmmaking.”
    He *was also a big fan of animated filmmaking.

    Aside from that, this is really devastating news. If you’ve seen the tweet The Academy released it’s very heartbreaking (it’s a pic saying “genie, you’re free.”) Robin Williams was such an amazing man with great talent. He helped make one of the most memorable Disney characters out there. It’s gonna be hard watching Aladdin (or any of his movies) again for a while. RIP

  • Josh Moore

    “Genie you’re free!”

  • Pedro Nakama

    He also gave an honorary Oscar to Walter Lance.

  • Robin Williams has been an inspiration for me through the use of comedy, timing, and the ability of creating characters. I enjoyed his creation for the Genie in Aladdin, and marveled at his dialogue for the Oscars when he presented awards to both Chuck Jones and Brad Bird (my favorite animation directors).

    Like everyone, I was very shocked and hurt of the news. I do hope his family and friends find comfort and strength now, and for the upcoming weeks ahead. In closing, thank you Robin Williams for your genius. I wish you were able to stay longer.

  • Jonathan Lyons

    Also, he voiced “Batty” in FernGully the Last Rainforest, and a penguin whose name I forget in the Happy Feet movies.

    • Anonymous

      I think it was Ramón and Lovelace.

  • James Madison

    Amazing talent. Thank you Mr. Williams.

  • Ant G

    Last year I attempted suicide and hurt myself enough to be in the hospital for over 2 weeks and I got to really contemplate the motif, and what could have been the impact of my actions. There’s a mindset that you reach way before that day; it could be for months or years, and it’s unnoticeable (or it could be noticeable, but no one ever thinks you’d go that far). Not trying to argue the influence of media, but you do become desensitized to it a bit when you hear of people who seem to have it all commit suicide. It’s romanticized a little bit especially on artists; the pinnacle case of the struggling artist.

    Robin Williams had a huge impact on not only the way I act or view comedy, but my outlook on life as well. His charisma and optimism were contagious, you’d really wish you knew this man personally to legitimize the feeling that you know him. Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, Aladdin, What dreams may come, Bicentennial Man, etc. etc. As a kid I would watch any movie I recognized him in, even Flubber which I hated. I would never dismiss the way he died, I think it reflects who he was in his later years but not necessarily his mindset during all of the 90s movies I remember him the most from. I hope his family is well, Im sure it’s harder to cope for them than it was for him.

    • Doug

      Ant G – Thanks so much for sharing your perspective. More importantly, I hope you are well, or are well on your way to being better now.

    • Wow, I certainly hope that you are taking good care of yourself, that you’ve addressed whatever led you to try that and that you are taking ongoing measures to prevent that ever happening again.

      Not that you do or should give two jots whether or not I’m happy(I am incidentally) but I really enjoy hearing your voice around here and selfishly wish you a long and productive shuffle. Death comes to us all inevitably, make the selfish fucker wait.

    • John Richardson

      Well, Ant G, I’m glad you’re still here… although I’m sorry for what you’ve had to go through. If you ever start inching in that direction again, I hope there’s someone you can trust to talk about it with.

      I’ve also often thought it would be great to meet Robin Williams (although a bit exhausting, maybe, heh). One thing I loved was seeing him on Craig Ferguson’s show, because he laughed in a way I’d never seen him laugh on other talk shows. I thought, “Wow. So that’s his actual *real* laugh. On other shows, he’s just being polite – very convincingly.” Craig’s just that much funnier, I guess. But it was great to see his authentic, extreme laugh. I bet someone’s posted it somewhere.

    • pingrava

      Regarding your experiences:
      I’m on the list for an organ transplant. Right now, I’m in a holding pattern with some noticeable improvement in my condition. But I have my days. Even with insurance, I’d be in the hole for 150K. I have days where the thought of possibly leaving my family with a mountain of death is almost too much to bear. Heck-I even got fired when my company was asked by my physicians to give me a short term leave of absence of two months to get my condition under control. I was escorted out and denied severance.
      But then I see my son running up the street from the school bus. And I tell myself that I’m not gonna let a transplant define who I am.

  • Toonio

    He will remain as one of the benchmarks for voices in animation.

  • jhalpernkitcat

    I loved watching a bunch of segments with him on Sesame Street. He blended in so perfectly chatting with Elmo, or showing off similarities between him and a robin. Of course, he was the best part of Aladdin–his voice acting fit the Genie perfectly. I was so shocked reading about his death yesterday–I did not want to believe it at first.

  • Ryoku240

    Robin Williams was one of the last actors of a kind, an actor who’s voice and mannerisms were so distinct that you could put them into animated form and it’d add quite a bit to the performance.

  • Popeye is my favorite movie

  • just1more

    Robin Williams and Charles Fletcher presenting Richard Williams with an honorary Oscar for “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” in 1989.

  • just1more

    Nice New Yorker piece on Robin Williams’ role as the Genie in “Aladdin”:

  • anonymous

    He was also voiced the animated Dr. Know in the live action film Artificial Intelligence.

  • jonhanson

    As someone who has been suicidally depressed Eva definitely messes with your head but also touches on something deep. It’s not something I watch for fun, the two times I watched the series it left me emotionally worn out. But it also leaves me with a sort of muted hope, which is the kind that feels most true when you have taken a very dark view of life and the world.

    • Unlike me, though I suppose I grew out of that stage in my life fine. I just don’t really like that sort of thing as it doesn’t interest me at all.

  • Phil Willis

    While I never got a chance to meet Robin Williams in person, the news of his death was very saddening. He was an incredible voice talent to animate to and was very kind to the other members of the crew who worked with him.

    In particular I remember during the final “crunch time” on Happy Feet 2, Robin Williams recorded an encouraging video and sent it around to all the animators and crew. It was exactly what we needed at a very stressful and busy time.

    What a classy guy.

    He will be greatly missed.

  • jonhanson

    I don’t know if I could explain it. I’d say watch Spirited Away, Akira, Grave of the Firefliess, Wolf Children and Perfect Blue. If you don’t like anime after watching those then you don’t like anime and that’s fine, though I have to admit I myself couldn’t comprehend anyone not liking at least one of those films.