At the outset I suppose I should admit that I didn't really like Mork and Mindy very much. Maybe I was too young when it aired, but when I saw reruns in later years I didn't really like it any more. Maybe I'm just not part of the correct generation to be able to enjoy the very era specific late-1970s humor. But I am grateful that the sitcom existed, because it brought Robin Williams to the public eye.
There is a strong likelihood that Robin Williams would have achieved success without Mork and Mindy based upon his undeniable talent. But that's what brought him to the "big time", and we don't live in an alternate universe. Once he moved to making movies, Williams was incandescent, with so many great performances that it is difficult to list them all, ranging from underrated gems like the titular role in Popeye to instant classics like the central character in Mrs. Doubtfire, to zany over-the-top appearances such as the Genie in Aladdin. But Williams was more than manic energy and silly jokes. Many of his roles were comic, but featured in movies in which the comedy was accompanied by more serious issues, such as Good Morning Vietnam, The World According to Garp, and Hook. Williams was a comedian, but he was a comedian who seemed to know that comedy is best used to shine light on the darker aspects of our world.
His best roles were probably those he played in Dead Poet's Society and Good Will Hunting. I don't think it is a accident that Williams was at his best when he was portraying someone whose primary role was teaching. Comedy was what Williams was good at, but it seems that it was a vehicle for him to teach the world about how to live. Sure he had some problems - he fought drug and alcohol addiction and suffered through two divorces - but the undeniable fact of Williams' life is that he seems to have lived it to the fullest.
We're going to miss Williams. The only thing left for us is to learn the lessons of his how he lived his life: Live the only life we have as best we can.
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