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A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITOR'S CHOICE
A SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A VULTURE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
"A generous, appreciative biography of Robin Williams by a New York Times culture reporter. The author, who had access to Williams and members of the comedian’s family, is an unabashed fan but doesn’t shy away from the abundant messiness in his subject’s personal life."—The New York Times Book Review
From New York Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff, the definitive biography of Robin Williams – a compelling portrait of one of America’s most beloved and misunderstood entertainers.
From his rapid-fire stand-up comedy riffs to his breakout role in Mork & Mindy and his Academy Award-winning performance in Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams was a singularly innovative and beloved entertainer. He often came across as a man possessed, holding forth on culture and politics while mixing in personal revelations – all with mercurial, tongue-twisting intensity as he inhabited and shed one character after another with lightning speed.
But as Dave Itzkoff shows in this revelatory biography, Williams’s comic brilliance masked a deep well of conflicting emotions and self-doubt, which he drew upon in his comedy and in celebrated films like Dead Poets Society; Good Morning, Vietnam; The Fisher King; Aladdin; and Mrs. Doubtfire, where he showcased his limitless gift for improvisation to bring to life a wide range of characters. And in Good Will Hunting he gave an intense and controlled performance that revealed the true range of his talent.
Itzkoff also shows how Williams struggled mightily with addiction and depression – topics he discussed openly while performing and during interviews – and with a debilitating condition at the end of his life that affected him in ways his fans never knew. Drawing on more than a hundred original interviews with family, friends, and colleagues, as well as extensive archival research, Robin is a fresh and original look at a man whose work touched so many lives.
According to this perceptive biography from Itzkoff (Mad as Hell), comedian Robin Williams was a man driven by a deep need for adulation and acceptance. Itzkoff introduces Williams as a brilliant, imaginative child left to his own devices in a sprawling mansion in the suburbs of Detroit, then describes his sometimes contentious relationship with his Ford executive father, his time in a community college drama department, his training at Juilliard (where he met lifelong friend Christopher Reeve), his breakthrough role on Mork and Mindy, and his long movie career. Along the way, readers meet the people who sustained him for much of his life, in particular the comic Billy Crystal, who perhaps knew him best, and his second wife, Marsha, who for years supervised much of his professional life. Nevertheless, Williams was consumed with misgivings about his stature as a star, a doubt that found expression in drug and alcohol abuse, and in his struggle to find film projects that could harness his manic talents. Itzkoff goes into detail on the debilitating illness (Lewy body dementia) that some of those close to Williams believe caused the comedian to commit suicide in 2014. Meticulously sourced and comprehensive in scope, Itzkoff's work gives Williams's many fans a rare glimpse of the man behind the celebrity.