And now Robin Williams has passed:

On August 11, 2014, at approximately 11:55 a.m, Marin County Communications received a 9-1-1 telephone call reporting a male adult had been located unconscious and not breathing inside his residence in unincorporated Tiburon, CA. The Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Tiburon Fire Department and Southern Marin Fire Protection District were dispatched to the incident with emergency personnel arriving on scene at 12:00 pm. The male subject, pronounced deceased at 12:02 pm has been identified as Robin McLaurin Williams, a 63-year-old resident of unincorporated Tiburon, CA.

An investigation into the cause, manner, and circumstances of the death is currently underway by the Investigations and Coroner Division s of the Sheriff’s Office. Preliminary information developed during the investigation indicates Mr. Williams was last seen alive at his residence, where he resides with his wife, at approximately 10:00 pm on August 10, 2014. Mr. Williams was located this morning shortly before the 9-1-1 call was placed to Marin County Communications. At this time, the Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made.

Regardless of what you might think of his politics, Robin Williams is, in my opinion, the funniest man of the last 50 years. I predicted, after seeing The World According to Garp that he would eventually win an Oscar for his acting talent, and he did for his portrayal of psychologist Sean McGuire in Good Will Hunting.

I’ve never seen a faster comedian, or one better at improv. In 1990 while at Kingsboro Psychiatric Center in Brooklyn, New York on location for the film Awakenings (where Williams played a psychiatrist) director Penny Marshall appeared (along with the cast) in a video feed at the American Comedy Awards. She was congratulating her brother Garry Marshall for his winning an American Achievement Award from that organization. During her speech (with Robin just over her shoulder) she mentioned that they were on set “at a menstrual hospital.” In an INSTANT, Williams piped up: “A menstrual hospital! It’s a period piece!” Penny Marshall turned several interesting shades of red.

Here, I think, is one of the best examples of William’s brilliance – improv using a prop from the audience (Updated with a YouTube clip of the entire piece. Improv starts at about 2:22 and runs to the end of the clip.):

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGhfxKUH80M?rel=0]
The world is now a grayer place.  I hope he and Jonathan Winters are making a lot of people very, very happy right now.

Edited to add:

I think this might have been a little more real that we realized:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6s26WxsgyKE?rel=0]
I wish someone could have found him his Grail.

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