08.12.14 6:00 AM ET
Robin Williams's Greatest Moments on Stage and Screen (Video)
‘Mork & Mindy’ (1978)
Williams got a TV series out of a popular guest spot on an episode of Happy Days, playing a kooky alien who comes to Earth and turns the life of a human woman upside down.
‘An Evening at the Met’/‘A Night at the Met’ (1986)
As a stand-up comedian, Williams was one of the greats. His HBO special An Evening at the Met, released as a Grammy-winning album, A Night at the Met, is Williams at his pure best: He’s never been faster, funnier, or more raw, especially when talking about his experience with drugs.
‘Good Morning, Vietnam’ (1987)
Williams scored his first Oscar nomination playing maverick U.S. Armed Services DJ Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning, Vietnam. The actor showed tremendous range in the role, bouncing between his wacky stand-up persona and gentler dramatic work.
‘Dead Poets Society’ (1989)
One of Williams’ most iconic roles was that of English teacher John Keating, who instructs his students to carpe diem. The actor earned his second Oscar nomination for the role.
Between 1986 and 2010, Williams hosted several TV specials for Comic Relief, a charity focused on food and shelter for the homeless. Along with co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal, Williams had the opportunity to really let loose on stage.
‘The Fisher King’ (1991)
Williams’s third Oscar nom was for playing Parry, a delusional homeless man tied to a washed-up shock jock (Jeff Bridges) in this urban fantasy directed by Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam.
Smack in the middle of the Second Golden Age of Disney in the 1990s, Williams lent his voice—voices, really—to the Genie in the House of Mouse’s take on the Arabian Nights story. The movie was a hit, in large part because of Williams’ rapid-fire delivery and impersonations of everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger to (curiously) William F. Buckley.
‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ (1993)
Williams’ turn as a divorced dad who dresses up as a female housekeeper for his kids may not have been the second coming of Some Like It Hot, but it was the second-highest grossing film of 1993, topped only by Jurassic Park.
‘Good Will Hunting’ (1997)
Writers and co-stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck may have given the best speech at the Oscars, but Williams finally won a statuette for his subdued portrayal of a widowed therapist tapped to help a tortured genius (Damon).
‘Weapons of Self Destruction’ (2009)
In his final stand-up special, Williams spit joke after joke on everything from his then-recent heart surgery to politics to—as demonstrated in this very NSFW clip—pornography.