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Robin Williams
Williams at the premiere of Happy Feet Two in
Born Robin McLaurin Williams
July 21, 1951
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died August 11, 2014 (aged 63)
Tiburon, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Actor, stand-up comedian, film
producer, screenwriter
Spouse(s) Valerie Velardi
(m. 1978–1988; divorced)
Marsha Garces
(m. 1989–2008; divorced)
Susan Schneider
(m. 2011–2014; his death)
Children 3; including Zelda Williams
Robin Williams
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11,
2014) was an American actor, stand-up comedian, film
producer, and screenwriter.
Rising to fame with his role as the alien Mork in the TV series
Mork & Mindy (1978–1982), Williams went on to establish
a successful career in both stand-up comedy and feature film
acting. His film career included such acclaimed films as The
World According to Garp (1982), Good Morning,
Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), Awakenings
(1990), The Fisher King (1991), and Good Will Hunting
(1997), as well as financial successes such as Popeye
(1980), Hook (1991), Aladdin (1992), Mrs. Doubtfire
(1993), Jumanji (1995), The Birdcage (1996), Night at
the Museum (2006), and Happy Feet (2006). He also
appeared in the video "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor three
times, Williams received the Academy Award for Best
Supporting Actor for his performance in Good Will Hunting.
He also received two Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe
Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and five Grammy
On August 11, 2014, Williams was found unresponsive at his
residence in Marin County, California, and was pronounced
dead at the scene. According to the Marin County's
coroner's office, the probable cause of death was suicide by
1 Early life and education
2 Television career
3 Film roles
3.1 Disputes with Disney
4 Stand-up career
5 Theatre career
6 Personal life
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6.1 Marriages and children
6.2 Family and friends
6.3 Addiction and health problems
6.4 Other interests
6.5 Charity work
7 Illness and death
7.1 Reactions
8 Filmography
9 References
10 Bibliography
11 External links
Early life and education
Robin McLaurin Williams
was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 21, 1951.
His mother, Laura McLaurin (née
Smith, September 24, 1922 – September 4, 2001), was a former model from New Orleans, Louisiana.
father, Robert Fitzgerald Williams (September 10, 1906 – October 18, 1987), was a senior executive at Ford
Motor Company in charge of the Midwest region. His maternal great-great-grandfather was Mississippi senator
and governor Anselm J. McLaurin.
Williams's ancestry included English, Welsh, Irish, Scottish, German, and
He was raised in the Episcopal Church (while his mother practiced Christian Science),
later authored the comedic list, "Top Ten Reasons to be an Episcopalian."
He grew up in Bloomfield Hills,
Michigan, where he was a student at the Detroit Country Day School,
and later moved to Woodacre, Marin
County, California, where he attended the public Redwood High School in nearby Larkspur, California. Williams
studied at Claremont McKenna College (then called Claremont Men's College).
Williams left Claremont and
attained a full scholarship to the esteemed Juilliard School. In between Claremont and Juilliard, he attended the
College of Marin for theatre.
He had two half-brothers: R. Todd Williams (who died August 14, 2007) and
McLaurin Smith.
Williams described himself as a quiet child whose first imitation was of his grandmother to his mother. He did not
overcome his shyness until he became involved with his high school drama department.
In 1973, Williams was one of only 20 students accepted into the freshman class at Juilliard and one of only two
students to be accepted by John Houseman into the Advanced Program at the school that year; the other was
Christopher Reeve.
In his dialects class, Williams had no trouble quickly mastering dialects. Williams left Juilliard
in 1976.
Television career
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After appearing in the cast of the short-lived The Richard Pryor Show on NBC, Williams was cast by Garry
Marshall as the alien Mork in a 1978 episode of the hit TV series Happy Days
after impressing the producer
with his quirky sense of humor when he sat on his head when asked to take a seat for the audition.
As Mork,
Williams improvised much of his dialogue and physical comedy, speaking in a high, nasal voice. Mork's appearance
was so popular with viewers that it led to a spin-off hit television sitcom, Mork & Mindy, which ran from 1978 to
1982; the show was written to accommodate Williams's improvisations. Although he played the same character as
in his appearance in Happy Days, the show was set in the present day, in Boulder, Colorado, instead of the late
1950s in Milwaukee. Mork was an extremely popular character, featured on posters, coloring books, lunchboxes,
and other merchandise.
Starting in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, Williams began to reach a wider audience with his stand-up
comedy, including three HBO comedy specials, Off The Wall (1978), An Evening with Robin Williams (1982),
and Robin Williams: Live at the Met (1986). Also in 1986, Williams co-hosted the 58th Academy Awards.
His stand-up work was a consistent thread through his career, as seen by the success of his one-man show (and
subsequent DVD) Robin Williams: Live on Broadway (2002). He was voted 13th on Comedy Central's list "100
Greatest Stand-ups of All Time" in 2004.
Williams and Billy Crystal appeared in an unscripted cameo at the beginning of an episode of the third season of
Friends. They were in the building where the show was shooting and were asked to improvise their lines.
Williams appeared on an episode of the American version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? (Season 3, Episode 9:
November 16, 2000). During a game of "Scenes from a Hat", the scene "What Robin Williams is thinking right
now" was drawn, and Williams stated, "I have a career. What the hell am I doing here?"
On December 4, 2010,
he appeared with Robert De Niro on Saturday Night Live in the sketch "What Up with That". In 2012, he guest-
starred as himself in two FX series, Louie and Wilfred.
In February 2013, CBS announced it had picked up a pilot episode for a David E. Kelley comedy called The
Crazy Ones starring Williams. The series was officially picked up on May 10, 2013.
Williams played Simon
Roberts, a father who works with his daughter (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar) in an advertising office. The series
premiered on September 26, 2013,
and was canceled after one season.
Film roles
Most of Williams's acting career was in film, although he gave some performances on stage as well (notably as
Estragon in a production of Waiting for Godot with Steve Martin). His first film was the 1977 comedy Can I Do
It 'Till I Need Glasses? His performance in Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) earned Williams an Academy
Award nomination.
Many of his roles have been comedies tinged with pathos.
His role as the Genie in the animated film Aladdin (1992) was instrumental in establishing the importance of star
power in voice actor casting. Williams used his voice talents again in Fern Gully, as the holographic Dr. Know in
the 2001 film A.I. Artificial Intelligence, in the 2005 animated film Robots, the 2006 Academy Award-winning
Happy Feet, and an uncredited vocal performance in the film Everyone's Hero. He was also the voice of The
Timekeeper, a former attraction at the Walt Disney World Resort about a time-traveling robot who encounters
Jules Verne and brings him to the future.
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Williams at the 62nd Academy
Awards in 1990 with journalist Yola
Williams's roles in dramatic films garnered him an Oscar as Best
Supporting Actor for his role as a psychologist in Good Will Hunting,
as well as two previous Academy Award nominations for playing an
English teacher in Dead Poets Society (1989), and for playing a troubled
homeless man in The Fisher King (1991).
That same year he played
an adult Peter Pan in the movie Hook. Other acclaimed dramatic films
include Moscow on the Hudson (1984), Awakenings (1990), and
What Dreams May Come (1998).
In the 2002 film Insomnia,
Williams portrayed a writer/killer on the run from a sleep-deprived Los
Angeles policeman (played by Al Pacino) in rural Alaska.
Also in
2002, in the psychological thriller One Hour Photo, Williams played an
emotionally disturbed photo development technician who becomes obsessed with a family for whom he has
developed pictures for a long time.
In 2006, Williams starred in The Night Listener, a thriller about a radio show host who realizes that a child with
whom he has developed a friendship may or may not exist; that year, he starred in five movies, including Man of
the Year,
was the Surprise Guest at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards,
and appeared on an episode of
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition that aired on January 30, 2006.
Williams was known for his improvisational skills and impersonations, and his performances frequently involved
impromptu humor designed and delivered in rapid-fire succession while on stage. According to the Aladdin DVD
commentary, most of his dialogue as the Genie was improvised.
At one point, he was in the running to play the Riddler in Batman Forever until director Tim Burton dropped the
project. Earlier, Williams had been a strong contender to play the Joker in Batman. He had expressed interest in
assuming the role in The Dark Knight, the sequel to 2005's Batman Begins,
although the part of the Joker was
played by Heath Ledger, who won, posthumously, the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
He was portrayed by Chris Diamantopoulos in the made-for-TV biopic Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized
Story of Mork & Mindy (2005), documenting the actor's arrival in Hollywood as a struggling comedian.
Disputes with Disney
In gratitude for his success with the Disney-produced Touchstone film Good Morning, Vietnam, Williams voiced
the Genie in the Disney animated film Aladdin for SAG scale pay ($75,000), on condition that his name or image
not be used for marketing, and his (supporting) character not take more than 25% of space on advertising artwork,
since Toys was scheduled for release one month after the debut of Aladdin. Additionally, Williams believed the
character's voice was his property and did not want it to be imitated.
The studio went back on the deal on both
counts, especially in poster art by having the Genie in 25% of the image, but having other major and supporting
characters portrayed considerably smaller. Disney's book, Aladdin: The Making of an Animated Film, listed
both of Williams's characters, "The Peddler" and "The Genie", ahead of main characters but was forced to refer to
him as only "the actor signed to play the Genie".
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Williams performing a USO
show at the Aviano Air Base
for the town's neighborhood
on December 22, 2007
Williams and Disney had a bitter falling-out, resulting in Dan Castellaneta's voicing the Genie in The Return of
Jafar and the Aladdin animated television series. Castellaneta was also hired for the feature Aladdin and the King
of Thieves and had completed recording all his lines. When Jeffrey Katzenberg was fired from Disney and replaced
by former 20th Century Fox production head Joe Roth (whose last act for Fox was greenlighting Williams's film
Mrs. Doubtfire), Roth arranged for a public apology to Williams by Disney. Williams agreed to perform in
Hollywood Pictures' Jack, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and even agreed to voice the Genie again for the
King of Thieves sequel (for considerably more than scale), replacing all of Castellaneta's dialogue.
When Williams re-teamed with Doubtfire director Chris Columbus for Touchstone Pictures’ Bicentennial Man in
1999, Disney asked that the budget be cut by approximately $20 million, and when the film was released on
Christmas Day, it flopped at the box office. Williams blamed Disney's marketing and the loss of content the film
suffered because of the budget cuts. As a result, Williams was again on bad terms with Disney, and Castellaneta
was once again recruited to replace him as Genie in the Kingdom Hearts video game series and the House of
Mouse TV series. The DVD release for Aladdin has no involvement from Williams in the bonus materials.
Williams reconciled with The Walt Disney Company and in 2009 agreed to be inducted as a Disney Legend.
Stand-up career
Williams did a number of stand-up comedy tours, beginning in the early 1970s.
Some of his tours include An Evening With Robin Williams (1982), Robin
Williams: At The Met (1986), and Robin Williams LIVE on Broadway (2002).
The latter broke many long-held records for a comedy show. In some cases,
tickets were sold out within thirty minutes of going on sale.
After a six-year break, in August 2008, Williams announced a new 26-city tour
titled "Weapons of Self-Destruction". He said that this was his last chance to
make cracks at the expense of the current Bush Administration, but by the time
the show was staged, only a few minutes covered that subject. The tour started at
the end of September 2009 and concluded in New York on December 3, and
was the subject of an HBO special on December 8, 2009.
Theatre career
Williams appeared opposite Steve Martin at Lincoln Center in an Off-Broadway
production of Waiting for Godot in 1988.
He made his Broadway acting
debut in Rajiv Joseph's Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which opened at the
Richard Rodgers Theatre on March 31, 2011.
He headlined his own one-man
show, Robin Williams: Live on Broadway, that played at The Broadway Theatre in July 2002.
Personal life
Marriages and children
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Williams's residence in Sea Cliff, San
Williams aboard the
USS Enterprise in 2003
On June 4, 1978, Robin Williams married his first wife, Valerie Velardi.
Their son Zachary Pym "Zak" Williams was born on April 11, 1983.
During Williams's first marriage, he was involved in an extramarital
relationship with Michelle Tish Carter, a cocktail waitress whom he met
in 1984. She sued him in 1986, claiming that he did not tell her he was
infected with the herpes simplex virus before he embarked on a sexual
relationship with her in the mid-1980s, during which, she said, he
transmitted the virus to her. The case was settled out of court. Williams
and Velardi divorced in 1988.
On April 30, 1989, he married Marsha Garces, a Filipino American and
Zachary's nanny, who was several months pregnant with his child. They
had two children, Zelda Rae Williams (born July 31, 1989) and Cody
Alan Williams (born November 25, 1991). In March 2008, Garces filed for divorce from Williams, citing
irreconcilable differences.
Williams married his third wife, graphic designer Susan Schneider, on October 23, 2011, in St. Helena,
Their residence was Williams's house in Sea Cliff, a neighborhood in San Francisco,
Of what gives him a sense of wonder, Williams stated, "My children give me a great sense of wonder. Just to see
them develop into these extraordinary human beings."
Family and friends
While studying at Juilliard, Williams befriended Christopher Reeve. They had several classes together in which they
were the only students, and they remained good friends for the rest of Reeve's life. Williams visited Reeve after the
horse-riding accident that rendered him a quadriplegic, and cheered him up by pretending to be an eccentric
Russian doctor (similar to his role in Nine Months). Williams claimed that he was there to perform a colonoscopy.
Reeve stated that he laughed for the first time since the accident and knew that life was going to be okay.
On August 14, 2007, Williams's elder brother, Robert Todd Williams, died of
complications from heart surgery performed a month earlier.
Addiction and health problems
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Williams had an addiction to
Williams was a close friend of and frequent partier alongside John
Belushi. He said the death of his friend and the birth of his son Zak prompted him
to quit drugs and alcohol: "Was it a wake-up call? Oh yeah, on a huge level. The
grand jury helped too."
Williams started drinking alcohol again in 2003, while working in a small town in
On August 9, 2006, he checked himself in to a substance-abuse
rehabilitation center in Newberg, Oregon. He later said that he was an
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Williams speaking at the
2008 BBC World Debate
His publicist delivered the announcement:
After 20 years of sobriety, Robin Williams found himself drinking again and has decided to take
proactive measures to deal with this for his own well-being and the well-being of his family.
While acknowledging his failure to maintain sobriety, Williams would never return to use of cocaine, declaring in a
2010 interview:
"No. Cocaine – paranoid and impotent, what fun. There was no bit of me thinking, ooh, let's go back
to that. Useless conversations until midnight, waking up at dawn feeling like a vampire on a day pass.
Williams was hospitalized in March 2009 due to heart problems. He postponed his one-man tour in order to
undergo surgery to replace his aortic valve.
The surgery was successfully completed on March 13, 2009, at
the Cleveland Clinic.
Other interests
Williams was a member of the Episcopal Church. He described his denomination in a comedy routine as "Catholic
Lite—same rituals, half the guilt."
Williams was an avid enthusiast of video games and named two of his children
after game characters. He named his daughter after Princess Zelda from The
Legend of Zelda action-adventure game series.
They both have been
featured in an ad for the Nintendo 3DS remake of The Legend of Zelda:
Ocarina of Time.
His son may have been named after Cody from the beat
'em up game Final Fight.
He also enjoyed pen-and-paper role-playing
games and online video games, playing Warcraft 3, Day of Defeat, Half-
and the first-person shooter Battlefield 2 as a sniper.
He was also
previously a fan of the Wizardry series of role-playing video games.
On January 6, 2006, Williams performed live at the Consumer Electronics Show
during Google's keynote.
In the 2006 E3, on the invitation of Will Wright, he
demonstrated the creature editor of Spore while simultaneously commenting on
the creature's look: "This will actually make a platypus look good."
He also
complimented the game's versatility, comparing it to Populous and Black &
White. Later that year, he was one of several celebrities to participate in the Worldwide Dungeons & Dragons
Game Day.
Williams' favorite book was the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, the actor expressed enthusiasm at the idea of
playing the character Hari Seldon in an adaptation.
His favorite book growing up as a child was The Lion, The
Witch and The Wardrobe, which he later shared with his children, "I would read the whole C.S. Lewis series out
loud to my kids. I was once reading to Zelda, and she said 'Don't do any voices. Just read it as yourself.' So I did, I
just read it straight, and she said 'That's better.'"
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Williams performing at Camp Victory
for the USO on December 13, 2010
A fan of professional road cycling, Williams was a regular on the US Postal and Discovery Channel Pro Cycling
team bus and hotels during the years Lance Armstrong dominated the Tour de France.
He owned over 50
Williams enjoyed rugby union and was a fan of a former All Black, Jonah Lomu.
Williams enjoyed listening to jazz, "specifically Keith Jarrett piano solos".
He also listened to Tom Waits,
Radiohead, and Prince.
Williams was a supporter of eco-friendly vehicles. He drove a Toyota Prius
and was on the waiting list for an
Aptera 2 Series electric vehicle before the company folded in December 2011.
In 2010, Williams announced that he would love to play the Riddler in the next installment to the Batman films by
director Christopher Nolan, though Nolan has stated that the Riddler would not be featured in the film.
On Israel's 60th Independence Day in 2008, Williams appeared in Times Square along with a number of other
celebrities to wish Israel a "happy birthday".
He described himself as an "honorary Jew".
Charity work
Williams and his former wife, Marsha, founded the Windfall Foundation,
a philanthropic organization to raise money for many charities. Williams
devoted much of his energy to charity work, including the Comic Relief
fundraising efforts (the program was hosted by himself, Billy Crystal, and
Whoopi Goldberg).
In December 1999, he sang in French on the
BBC-inspired music video of international celebrities doing a cover of
The Rolling Stones' "It's Only Rock & Roll" for the charity Children's
In response to the 2010 Canterbury earthquake, Williams donated all
proceeds of his "Weapons of Self Destruction" Christchurch performance
to helping rebuild the New Zealand city. Half the proceeds were donated
to the Red Cross and half to the mayoral building fund.
Williams performed with the USO for U.S. troops
stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Williams also supported St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for several years.
Illness and death
According to his publicist, Williams suffered from depression,
though he would not confirm the reports that the death was by
In summer 2014, Williams had admitted himself into
"Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a
genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a
bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in
between. But he was one of a kind. He
arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended
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Barack Obama
the Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center in Lindstrom,
Minnesota, for continued sobriety treatment related to his
Williams was discovered by an unidentified person at his home in
Tiburon, California on August 11, 2014. After emergency 911
dispatchers received a call reporting Williams was unresponsive
and not breathing, emergency personnel arrived on-scene at
around 11:55 a.m. PDT. He was pronounced dead shortly after,
at 12:02 p.m.
The Coroner Division of Marin County
suspects the death to be suicide by asphyxia, pending
A forensic examination and toxicology test is scheduled for August 12.
Williams' wife, Susan Schneider, said: "I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most
beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken."
U.S. President Barack Obama responded on Williams' death, saying, "He was one of a kind. He arrived in our
lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit."
Fellow comedian Steve Martin
wrote on Twitter: "I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner,
genuine soul."
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up touching every element of the human
spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He
gave his immeasurable talent freely and
generously to those who needed it most –
from our troops stationed abroad to the
marginalized on our own streets. The Obama
family offers our condolences to Robin’s
family, his friends, and everyone who found
their voice and their verse thanks to Robin
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7. ^ The official Michigan social register, 1967, Virginia F. Searcy
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Monk, Katherine (July 4, 2007). "Marriage 101 with Robin Williams"
b8da-0cb90be40901&k=1045). Canada.com. He also verifies his date of birth as July 21, 1951 in a fansite
interview: Stuurman, Linda. RWF talks with Robin Williams: Proost! (http://www.robin-
williams.net/interviews/RWF/rwfinterview.php), May 25, 2008.
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&hl=en), 1908, Pg. 977; "He [Anselm J. McLaurin] was married at Trenton, Miss., February 22, 1870, to Laura
Elvira Victoria Rauch, daughter of John Rauch and wife, Epsilon Rauch, of Trenton, Miss. Mrs. McLaurin's
paternal ancestors immigrated to America from Germany; maternal from England and Germany."
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wed-robin-williams). CanMag. Retrieved December 26, 2007.
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HBO special) - - Ebb and Flow , the online newsletter of St. Augustine by the Sea Episcopal Church, Santa
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18. ^ October 1982, Playboy Magazine.
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(http://articles.latimes.com/2007/aug/18/local/me-williams18). Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 10, 2008.
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(http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5602441). Fresh Air from WHYY. National Public Radio.
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External links
Official website (http://www.robinwilliams.com)
Robin Williams (http://www.ibdb.com/person.asp?ID=88190) at the Internet Broadway Database
Robin Williams (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000245/) at the Internet Movie Database
Robin Williams (http://tcmdb.com/participant/participant.jsp?participantId=206858) at the TCM Movie
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Robin_Williams&oldid=620929586"
Categories: 1951 births 2014 deaths 20th-century American male actors 21st-century American male actors
Actors from the San Francisco Bay Area American Episcopalians American impressionists (entertainers)
American people of English descent American people of French descent American people of Irish descent
American people of German descent American people of Scottish descent
American people of Welsh descent American male film actors American male television actors
American male voice actors American stand-up comedians Audio book narrators
Best Musical or Comedy Actor Golden Globe (film) winners
Best Musical or Comedy Actor Golden Globe (television) winners
Best Supporting Actor Academy Award winners Cecil B. DeMille Award Golden Globe winners
Detroit Country Day School alumni Grammy Award-winning artists Juilliard School alumni
Denver. Channel. August 11, 2014. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
107. ^ "Investigation into Death of Actor Robin Williams" (http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/robinwilliamsdead.pdf).
Huffington Post. Marin County Sheriff's Office, Coroner Division. August 11, 2014. Retrieved August 12, 2014.
108. ^ "Robin Williams Dead in Suspected Suicide: Coroner"
Death-of-Actor-Robin-Williams-270820641.html). NBC New York. August 11, 2014. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
109. ^ Martin, Steve (August 11, 2014). "Tweet by Steve Martin"
(https://twitter.com/SteveMartinToGo/status/498971366050107392). Twitter. Twitter. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
110. ^ "Robin Williams Dies at 63: Steve Martin, Kathy Griffin, Miley Cyrus and More React"
_more_react/index.html). Entertainment Tonight. August 11, 2014. Retrieved August 11, 2014.
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