Robin Williams: Actors, comics pen tributes to 'one of the greatest'

The death of Robin Williams on Monday was met with shock and an outpouring of grief from friends, colleagues and fans of the Oscar-winning actor and comedian, in the real world and online. Along with tributes on the streets of Hollywood and countless celebrity tweets mourning his passing, some of Williams' former co-stars and fellow comedians penned in-depth remembrances of him.

Dante Basco, who played Rufio opposite Williams' grown-up Peter Pan in "Hook," wrote on his blog that Williams was "one of the greatest I've been able to work with and be around."

Basco also said: "I was lucky to work with him as an actor and witness first hand the magic of what made him a legend, the wit and other worldly improv skills. … With 'Hook' and so many other films, I, like millions of others became a fan and was always delightfully surprised by the performances he managed to produce, but with his passing, I can't help to feel, along with my generation … I can't help feeling like it's the death of my childhood. I guess we can't stay in Neverland forever, we must all [grow] up."

Actor and comedian Gilbert Gottfried costarred with Williams in Disney's hit animated movie "Aladdin," but as he recounted in a CNN piece, they recorded their lines separately and didn't cross paths.

"When I saw the film for the first time at the premiere, I was able to laugh along with the rest of the audience at Robin's performance," Gottfried wrote. "I had never heard it before."

Gottfried did often bump into Williams on the comedy circuit, however, and said, "Riffing with Robin Williams was extremely invigorating — and extremely exhausting. I knew I had to be on my toes every second. And when we would actually connect onstage, it was electric for me. To see Robin perform was an experience. He was more than a comedian. He was a comedy force of nature."

Alan Alda, who co-hosted the Academy Awards with Williams and Jane Fonda in 1986, penned a piece for Time describing Williams as a singular talent but also a troubled mind.

Alda wrote, "Where did his fearlessness come from? The night that he and Jane Fonda and I hosted the Academy Awards show together, he kept coming up with outrageous jokes in the wings. But before he went out on stage, he seemed to be using me as his taste monitor. He would think of a line and say, 'Is that too tasteless?' Invariably, I'd say, 'Yes, it's too tasteless,' and invariably he'd go on stage, say the line and kill with it."


Alda added, "Unfortunately, sometimes the mind that runs so fast it can't keep up with itself also has its down time. I didn't know he suffered from depression, although it doesn't surprise me. But it makes me want to do something. I hope it makes us all want to do something."

Jim Norton, also writing for Time, said he and his fellow comics all admired Williams. "No one will ever know exactly what Robin Williams was thinking and feeling when he made the decision to end his pain the way he did. But I do know he wasn't seeing himself the way the rest of us saw him."

Norton continued, "The funniest people I know always seem to be the ones surrounded by darkness. And that's probably why they're the funniest. The deeper the pit, the more humor you need to dig yourself out of it."

Paul F. Tomkins, another comedian inspired by Williams, wrote an appreciation for Fusion. "Robin Williams meant a lot to me when I was a kid," Tomkins said. "I knew nothing of drug use or depression. It never occurred to me that comedians, these magical creatures that I worshiped, ever felt anything other than the serene satisfaction derived from making people laugh. Eventually, I started doing stand-up myself, and I very quickly learned that comedians were all too human. "

Tomkins added, "Robin Williams will live on in shadows and light and sound, at least. He will continue to comfort weird little kids (and odd adults, for that matter) with his performances, those who know his work today and those who have yet to be born, who may experience him ten, fifty, a hundred years from now."

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