Regardless of what decade claims ownership over your childhood, there’s a good chance that the work of Robin Williams had a hand in some of its most treasured moments.
With the news of his passing earlier today, an outpouring of heartfelt remembrances came in from a variety of sources. Some of these were anecdotes of personal encounters, but many reflected on Williams’ career, both on stage and screen.
As one astute observer pointed out, there’s no better way to celebrate Williams’ legendary and genre-spanning filmography than to do so offline. But for tributes from the world of the written word, here are some thoughts (in 140-character form and otherwise) from those in the spheres in which Williams contributed the most. We’ll continue to update these lists as lengthier remembrances continue to be added to the already countless others.
Dan Kois, Slate
"But Williams’ finest roles displayed his quiet side, too. His gentle comedic touch could be overwhelmed by sentimentality on one hand and wackiness on the other, but the films in which he gave his most affecting performances were the ones in which he found a happy medium between antic verbal energy and elegant physicality."
Ben Collins, Esquire
"Now this feels fatherly, personal. It feels like news you should only hear in person, maybe on the phone in a quiet room, or on the side of the road. He felt like the funniest or the saddest or the most admired part of ourselves, and our fathers, and our brothers, and our wives, and our mothers."
There’s an ocean of video proof of Williams’ range as a performer, but these particular selections show his skill on both TV and film, as well as his lauded stand-up career.
"Love doesn’t make sense. That’s why Earthlings think it’s so wonderful." RIP.
— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) August 11, 2014
Robin Williams winning the Oscar. One of the most sincerely joyous and funny acceptance speeches ever. RIP. So sad. http://t.co/WErynFBgb6
— Matt Dentler (@MattDentler) August 11, 2014
Robin Williams on HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET. Look at him. An actor’s actor. (Yes, also young Jake Gyllenhaal.) https://t.co/ISgQK3Y0Uy
— Jaime N. Christley (@j_christley) August 12, 2014
If you’ve never seen Robin Williams in his stand-up prime, tonight’s a good time to start. https://t.co/ugG91u5y4l
— Ryan McGee (@TVMcGee) August 11, 2014
.@marcmaron and Robin Williams in 2010. Very real: https://t.co/SRiD3WiawX
— ZD (@ZachDionne) August 11, 2014
I’ll really miss Robin Williams. But neither I nor anyone else in the room that day will ever forget this: http://t.co/iAYLzKCzWj RIP
— Chris Anderson (@TEDchris) August 12, 2014
Perhaps one of the most apt tributes to Williams as a performer is that his work inspired a tremendous amount of instant gratitude and reflection, poetic in both its conciseness and immediacy.
Every time I hear a siren I still say "that’s my ride." Thank you Robin Williams. I wish your ride had not arrived.
— John Hodgman (@hodgman) August 11, 2014
The last time I saw Robin Williams was on Broadway, in Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. He was, as ever, trying something new. RIP.
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) August 11, 2014
He was like a master chess player, 14, 20 moves ahead of everyone else. He felt the joke 20 minutes out. And he made sure it landed.
— Sheila O’Malley (@sheilakathleen) August 11, 2014
You start off as a kid seeing Robin Williams as a funny man. You come of age realizing many of his roles are about keeping darkness at bay.
— Bilge Ebiri (@BilgeEbiri) August 11, 2014
Robin Williams’ best comedy had the effect of a perfect pop song: he’d riff on a line in a way that you’d never get out of your head.
— Russ Fischer (@russfischer) August 11, 2014
I can’t believe the news about Robin Williams. He gave so much to so many people. I’m heartbroken.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) August 11, 2014
While filming Schindler’s List, Spielberg used to cheer up his maudlin cast by phoning up #RobinWilliams and putting him on speaker phone
— Greg Jenner (@greg_jenner) August 11, 2014
"But doctor, I AM Pagliacci."
That’s the only way this makes sense. Can’t stand thinking of him being that sad. #RIPRobinWilliams
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) August 11, 2014
Those who had the chance to write about Williams and/or share a few personal moments with him during his lifetime shared their thoughts as well.
Very saddened to hear of Robin Williams’ death. Spent time w/him in 2009, he couldn’t have been kinder, more candid. http://t.co/IEjaNODZ9J
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) August 11, 2014
In 1983, Tom Shales called Robin Williams "the funniest white man alive." http://t.co/Ktw32AsbpR
— Jason Zinoman (@zinoman) August 11, 2014
A couple of years ago I interviewed Robin Williams and I remember just being so giddy the whole time. He was so nice. http://t.co/Zhc8ld2Ylg
— Mike Ryan (@mikeryan) August 11, 2014
It would be a Herculean task to collect all of the video and journalistic evidence of Williams’ lasting impact, but we’ll continue to gather further work on and from his career here: