5 Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Robin Williams

On August 11, 2014, Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams died at 63 by suicide. Here are 5 surprising facts you probably didn’t know about this inventive comedian who was admired by millions....


His Classmates Vote Him Least Likely to Succeed Williams spent his high school senior year in Marin County, California, where he was voted "least likely to succeed" and the "funniest person in the class". His track coach referred to Williams as being “kind of quiet” when he was a student. But soon after graduation, Williams set off on the course that would see him win an Academy Award, four Golden Globes, two Emmys and five Grammys, so only half of the predictions made by his classmates’ came true.

He Was a Central Park Mime David Sorine, the photographer, snapped photos of two mimes in 1974 at Central Park, and one was the future star Robin Williams. Williams was attending Juilliard to study acting at the time, and miming in the park allowed him to pick up a little extra money and practice. In the movie Shakes the Clown, Williams appears as a mime instructor named Marty Fromage.


He Wasn't The First Choice to Play Mork In a 1978 “Happy Days” episode called “My Favorite Orkan,” a different actor was originally hired to play Mork which first introduced the character to the world. The actor quit, and producer Garry Marshall came to the set and asked: “Does anyone know a funny Martian?” When Robin Williams was asked to audition and to come in the room and have a seat, he sat in the chair on his head. It isn’t surprising Williams got the job for the guest appearance and later starred on the spinoff “Mork and Mindy” which ran for four seasons.

He Almost Starred in the Movie "The Shining" It might be difficult to imagine a comedian in the lead roll of Stephen King’s The Shining, but that’s what director Stanley Kubrick had in mind at first. Surprisingly, he decided Williams was “too psychotic” and cast Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrence instead. Of course Williams and Shelley Duvall would reunite for a decidedly less successful film (1980's 'Popeye').

He Ushered in the Era of Celebrity Voice Acting The Disney movie Aladdin was a resounding success in 1992, and Williams was the voice of Genie. According to a 2011 article in The Atlantic, “Less than 20 years ago, voice acting was almost exclusively the realm of voice actors—people specifically trained to provide voices for animated characters. As it turns out, the rise of the celebrity voice actor can be traced to a single film: Disney’s 1992 breakout animated hit Aladdin.”  Following the success of Aladdin, other big names joined in doing the voices in animated films, including Shrek, Toy Story and The Lion King. Williams went on to voice both the Happy Feet movies and one of the Aladdin sequels.