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Robin Williams - Living the American Dream

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Robin Williams: Living the American Dream

Americans are blessed with the freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Each person is entitled to pursue the true dreams and desires of his or her heart. These individualized opportunities are often referred to as the American Dream. Difficulties frequently arise on the journey to one's dream. One must find a way to conquer these struggles to make his or her dream a reality. Through comedy and drama, Robin Williams, has overcome many obstacles to achieve his American Dream.

Robin McLaurin Williams was born on July 21,1951 in Chicago. Both of his parents were middle aged with grown children so Williams was raised as an only child. His father was a Ford Motor Company executive and his mother was a fashion model. Because his parents both had successful careers and were often absent the maid of the family raised Williams. He later explained "though he knew they loved him, they found it hard to communicate their affection. In fact, he says he began in comedy through his attempts to connect with his mother ' I'll make mommy laugh, and that'll be okay.' He was marked by the experience, being left with an acute fear of abandonment and a condition he describes as 'Love Me Syndrome'"(Wills 1). The family moved frequently because of his father's job. Moving constantly never gave Williams a chance to establish friendships. He was a larger child and often made fun of. Williams developed his quick humor as a way to defend himself from taunts and teases. Finally, Williams' father retired and the family settled down in Marion County, CA. Williams was finally able to establish a place for himself and make friends. At last he felt accepted and like he "fit in."

After high school Williams began to attend college at Claremont Men's College where he majored in political science. It was while at Claremont he discovered acting. Williams began memorizing Jonathan Winter's (Williams' idol) records and taking lessons in improv. Soon Williams transferred to Marion College to study acting. He proved to be extremely gifted and was awarded a full scholarship to Julliard in New York City. At Julliard Williams studied under John Houseman and became best friends with Christopher Reeve. He started off in drama and was very promising. Williams worked as a mime and began practicing stand up to make extra money. Although Williams' stand-up performances seemed chaotic and sporadic Houseman commented, "I always believed there was rather more artifice to Robin's comedy than people know. He thinks very quickly, but his mind is tightly controlled" (Wills 1). Soon Houseman told Williams that comedy not acting was his future. While at Julliard Williams met his first wife Valerie Velardi the couple would marry in 1978 and later have one son, Zachary.

Williams returned to California after graduating and began performing stand-up in San Francisco. His first taste of success was making an appearance on "Laugh In" in the late 70s. Williams then appeared as "Mork from Ork" on an alien episode of "Happy Days." Mork was so popular the Garry Marshall produced a spin-off series featuring Robin Williams and Pam Dawber as "Mork and Mindy." The sitcom was an overnight success, and Mork's catch phrase "Nanu-Nanu" appeared everywhere. Williams often strayed from the script during filming. At the beginning the producers tried to stop him, but by the time it was over sections of the script were left out so Williams could improvise. A television critic said, "Though his ceaseless adlibbing can grate on sensitive nerves, there is something teddy bearish about Williams that make him tolerable, it certainly made Mork one of television's most popular characters"(Brennan 2). In 1979 Williams won a Golden Globe for "Best TV Actor- Musical/Comedy."

During his rise to fame from 1978-1982 during "Mork and Mindy" Williams became addicted to alcohol and cocaine. Williams told People Magazine in 1988, "Cocaine for me was a place to hide. Most people get hyper on coke. It slowed me down. Sometimes it made me paranoid and impotent, but mostly it just made me withdrawn. And I was so crazy back then- working all day, partying most of the night- I needed an excuse not to talk. I needed quiet times, and I used coke to get them" ("Robin Williams Enters Rehab for Alcohol" 1). Six months before his son Zachary was born in 1983, Williams quit alcohol and cocaine- cold turkey.

Why did he quit all of the sudden? Williams quit for many reasons mainly because his marriage to Valerie was going down the drain, and she was pregnant. Also one of his friends, Jon Belushi died of an overdose. Although Williams was not present when Belushi passed, he had just snorted with Belushi just mere hours before. Williams commented, " The Belushi tragedy was frightening. His death scared a whole group of show business people. It caused a big exodus from drugs. And for me there was the baby coming. I knew I couldn't be a father and live that sort of life"("Robin Williams Enters Rehab for Alcohol" 1). Williams later stated, "Cocaine is God's way of saying you're making too much money"(Lanford 1).

In 1984 Williams and his wife Valerie, hired Marsha Graces as their nanny. The couple had, for a while, been having many problems and continued to. Finally, in 1987, their marriage ended. Graces soon became Williams' assistant. The couple soon fell in love, and they were married in 1989. They now have two kids, Zelda and Cody.

During the 80's Williams' film career also started



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