Robin Williams And The Dark Side Of Comedy

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • While widely-regarded as one of the funniest men alive, Williams was battling depression
  • Many comics are commonly known to have a darker side
  • "We lose at least one great comic to suicide or ODs every year," tweeted comedian Michael Ian Black

Share your memories of Robin Williams.

(CNN) -- By tradition, Drama is represented by two masks: the happy face of the comic muse Thalia and her sad counterpart, the tragic muse Melpomene.

If Drama were Robin Williams, you'd need a million more.

He was a mask of howling laughter, a mask of wide-eyed innocence. A sneer. A frown. Even, at times, a blank.

Robin Williams was honored during this year's Emmy telecast with a tribute led by friend Billy Crystal, who hosted the Robin Williams was honored during this year's Emmy telecast with a tribute led by friend Billy Crystal, who hosted the "Comic Relief" benefits with Williams and Whoopi Goldberg (seen here in 1986). Williams died August 11 at age 63. Click through to see moments from the beloved actor's remarkable life. Williams' peers regarded him as a brilliant actor and comedian. His friend David Letterman remembered him as Williams' peers regarded him as a brilliant actor and comedian. His friend David Letterman remembered him as "nothing we had ever seen before." Williams first shot to stardom with Pam Dawber in the sitcom "Mork & Mindy" in September 1978.Williams first shot to stardom with Pam Dawber in the sitcom "Mork & Mindy" in September 1978. Williams attends the Robin Williams Opening Party on April 11, 1979, at Studio 54 in New York City. Williams attends the Robin Williams Opening Party on April 11, 1979, at Studio 54 in New York City. This 1982 file photo originally released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Williams as T.S. Garp from the film "The World According to Garp."This 1982 file photo originally released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Williams as T.S. Garp from the film "The World According to Garp." Williams and his first wife, Valerie Velardi, join a huge number of photographers packed into singer Paul Simon's apartment to celebrate Simon's wedding to actress Carrie Fisher in New York City on August 16, 1983.Williams and his first wife, Valerie Velardi, join a huge number of photographers packed into singer Paul Simon's apartment to celebrate Simon's wedding to actress Carrie Fisher in New York City on August 16, 1983. Williams, center, takes time out from rehearsal at NBC's Williams, center, takes time out from rehearsal at NBC's "Saturday Night Live" with cast members Eddie Murphy, left, and Joe Piscopo on February 10, 1984. Williams would appear as guest host on the show. Williams enjoys music through a headset in a scene from the film "Good Morning, Vietnam" in 1987.Williams enjoys music through a headset in a scene from the film "Good Morning, Vietnam" in 1987. Williams portrayed a teacher in the movie "Dead Poets Society" in 1989, one of his first mostly dramatic roles. Williams portrayed a teacher in the movie "Dead Poets Society" in 1989, one of his first mostly dramatic roles. Williams went to all lengths to stay with his children in the 1993 movie "Mrs. Doubtfire."Williams went to all lengths to stay with his children in the 1993 movie "Mrs. Doubtfire." From left, Bonnie Hunt, Bradley Pierce, Kirsten Dunst and Williams hold one another in a scene from the 1995 film "Jumanji." From left, Bonnie Hunt, Bradley Pierce, Kirsten Dunst and Williams hold one another in a scene from the 1995 film "Jumanji." Comedians and co-hosts, from left, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Williams sing and dance the 1940s-era opening number to "Comic Relief VII" on November 11, 1995, in Los Angeles. Comedians and co-hosts, from left, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg and Williams sing and dance the 1940s-era opening number to "Comic Relief VII" on November 11, 1995, in Los Angeles. Jay Leno laughs as Williams jokes around during a taping of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on November 13, 1995, at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.Jay Leno laughs as Williams jokes around during a taping of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on November 13, 1995, at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. Williams and Nathan Lane starred in the film "The Birdcage" in 1996.Williams and Nathan Lane starred in the film "The Birdcage" in 1996. Williams visits a sick child in a scene from the film "Patch Adams" in 1998.Williams visits a sick child in a scene from the film "Patch Adams" in 1998. Williams and his wife, Marsha, pose for photographers with their daughter, Zelda, as they arrive at the premiere of the film "Patch Adams" in December 1998 in New York City. Williams and his wife, Marsha, pose for photographers with their daughter, Zelda, as they arrive at the premiere of the film "Patch Adams" in December 1998 in New York City. Williams wears a clown nose as he places his hands in concrete during a ceremony outside Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood in 1998. In the critically acclaimed Williams wears a clown nose as he places his hands in concrete during a ceremony outside Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood in 1998. In the critically acclaimed "Patch Adams," he played a doctor who used humor to help heal his patients Actor-writers Matt Damon, left, and Ben Affleck, right, pose with Williams, holding the Oscars they won for "Good Will Hunting" at the 70th annual Academy Awards in 1998. Damon and Affleck won for best original screenplay, and Williams won for best supporting actor.Actor-writers Matt Damon, left, and Ben Affleck, right, pose with Williams, holding the Oscars they won for "Good Will Hunting" at the 70th annual Academy Awards in 1998. Damon and Affleck won for best original screenplay, and Williams won for best supporting actor. Williams donates blood at the Irwin Memorial Blood Center in San Francisco on September 11, 2001. Williams donates blood at the Irwin Memorial Blood Center in San Francisco on September 11, 2001. U.S. Postal Service team rider Lance Armstrong rides with Williams during training on a rest day of the 89th Tour de France cycling race in Vaison La Romaine on July 22, 2002.U.S. Postal Service team rider Lance Armstrong rides with Williams during training on a rest day of the 89th Tour de France cycling race in Vaison La Romaine on July 22, 2002. Williams plays Rainbow Randolph in the 2002 black comedy "Death to Smoochy."Williams plays Rainbow Randolph in the 2002 black comedy "Death to Smoochy." Williams and Oscar host Billy Crystal perform at the 76th Academy Awards show in 2004. Williams and Oscar host Billy Crystal perform at the 76th Academy Awards show in 2004. Williams poses for pictures with U.S. soldiers at the main U.S. base at Bagram, Afghanistan, on December 16, 2004.Williams poses for pictures with U.S. soldiers at the main U.S. base at Bagram, Afghanistan, on December 16, 2004. Williams in 2007's Williams in 2007's "License to Wed." Williams and Susan Schneider arrive at the premiere of Williams and Susan Schneider arrive at the premiere of "World's Greatest Dad" in Los Angeles on August 13, 2009. Williams at the pre-premiere party for "Happy Feet Two" at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London on November 20, 2011.Williams at the pre-premiere party for "Happy Feet Two" at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London on November 20, 2011. Williams poses for photographs in Sydney, Australia, on December 5, 2011. He and Australian director George Miller were in Australia to promote "Happy Feet Two."Williams poses for photographs in Sydney, Australia, on December 5, 2011. He and Australian director George Miller were in Australia to promote "Happy Feet Two." Williams' wife, Susan Schneider, said, Williams' wife, Susan Schneider, said, "This morning, 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."
Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies Comedic actor Robin Williams dies HIDE CAPTION
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28 > >> Photos: Robin Williams\' careerPhotos: Robin Williams' career Click through to see people who died in 2014.Click through to see people who died in 2014. Edward Herrmann, the versatile, honey-voiced actor whose roles included patricians and politicians such as "Gilmore Girls" father Richard Gilmore, "The Practice" law professor Anderson Pearson and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, died on Wednesday, December 31. He was 71.Edward Herrmann, the versatile, honey-voiced actor whose roles included patricians and politicians such as "Gilmore Girls" father Richard Gilmore, "The Practice" law professor Anderson Pearson and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, died on Wednesday, December 31. He was 71. Luise Rainer, who won back-to-back Oscars in the 1930s for "The Great Ziegfeld" and "The Good Earth," has died at the age of 104, her daughter reported on Tuesday, December 30.Luise Rainer, who won back-to-back Oscars in the 1930s for "The Great Ziegfeld" and "The Good Earth," has died at the age of 104, her daughter reported on Tuesday, December 30. Christine Cavanaugh, who lent her distinctive voice to the title pig in Christine Cavanaugh, who lent her distinctive voice to the title pig in "Babe," Chuckie Finster on "Rugrats" and Dexter of "Dexter's Laboratory," died December 22. She was 51. British rocker Joe Cocker died December 22 after a battle with lung cancer, Sony Music said in a statement. He was 70.British rocker Joe Cocker died December 22 after a battle with lung cancer, Sony Music said in a statement. He was 70. Norman Bridwell, the creator of Norman Bridwell, the creator of "Clifford the Big Red Dog," died December 12 in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, according to his publisher, Scholastic. Bridwell was 86. Legendary photographer Michel du Cille, a 26-year veteran of The Washington Post, died December 11 while on assignment in Liberia. The Post said du Cille, 58, collapsed Legendary photographer Michel du Cille, a 26-year veteran of The Washington Post, died December 11 while on assignment in Liberia. The Post said du Cille, 58, collapsed "during a strenuous hike on the way back from a village" affected by the African country's Ebola outbreak. Mary Ann Mobley, the first Miss America from Mississippi who turned that achievement into a movie career, died December 10 after battling breast cancer. She was 77.Mary Ann Mobley, the first Miss America from Mississippi who turned that achievement into a movie career, died December 10 after battling breast cancer. She was 77. Ken Weatherwax, who played Pugsley on the 1960s TV show Ken Weatherwax, who played Pugsley on the 1960s TV show "The Addams Family," died December 7, according to the Ventura County Coroner's Office. He was 59. Ian McLagan, a fun-loving keyboardist who played on records by such artists as the Rolling Stones, Lucinda Williams, Bruce Springsteen and his own bands -- the Small Faces and its successor, the Faces -- died December 3, according to a statement from his record label, Yep Roc Records. He was 69.Ian McLagan, a fun-loving keyboardist who played on records by such artists as the Rolling Stones, Lucinda Williams, Bruce Springsteen and his own bands -- the Small Faces and its successor, the Faces -- died December 3, according to a statement from his record label, Yep Roc Records. He was 69. American saxophonist Bobby Keys, who for years toured and recorded with the Rolling Stones, died on December 2. "The Rolling Stones are devastated by the loss of their very dear friend and legendary saxophone player, Bobby Keys," the band said on Twitter.American saxophonist Bobby Keys, who for years toured and recorded with the Rolling Stones, died on December 2. "The Rolling Stones are devastated by the loss of their very dear friend and legendary saxophone player, Bobby Keys," the band said on Twitter. To the world, he was known as "Chespirito." Roberto Gomez Bolanos gained fame as a comedian, but he was also a writer, actor, screenwriter, songwriter, film director and TV producer. The legendary entertainer died November 28 at the age of 85.To the world, he was known as "Chespirito." Roberto Gomez Bolanos gained fame as a comedian, but he was also a writer, actor, screenwriter, songwriter, film director and TV producer. The legendary entertainer died November 28 at the age of 85. British crime novelist P.D. James died November 27 at her home in Oxford, England. She was 94.British crime novelist P.D. James died November 27 at her home in Oxford, England. She was 94. Lebanese singer and actress Sabah, one of the Arab world's most prolific entertainers with a career spanning more than six decades, died November 26, in Beirut, Lebanon's state-run National News Agency reported. She was 87.Lebanese singer and actress Sabah, one of the Arab world's most prolific entertainers with a career spanning more than six decades, died November 26, in Beirut, Lebanon's state-run National News Agency reported. She was 87. Former Washington Mayor Marion Barry is dead at the age of 78, a hospital spokeswoman said on November 23. Barry was elected four times as the city's chief executive. He was once revered nationally as a symbol of African-American political leadership. But his professional accomplishments were often overshadowed by drug and personal scandals.Former Washington Mayor Marion Barry is dead at the age of 78, a hospital spokeswoman said on November 23. Barry was elected four times as the city's chief executive. He was once revered nationally as a symbol of African-American political leadership. But his professional accomplishments were often overshadowed by drug and personal scandals. Acclaimed film director Mike Nichols died on November 19. Nichols, pictured here with his wife, journalist Diane Sawyer, was best known for his films Acclaimed film director Mike Nichols died on November 19. Nichols, pictured here with his wife, journalist Diane Sawyer, was best known for his films "The Graduate," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "The Birdcage." He was 83. Jimmy Ruffin, silky-voiced singer of the Motown classic "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," died November 19 in Las Vegas. He was 78.Jimmy Ruffin, silky-voiced singer of the Motown classic "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," died November 19 in Las Vegas. He was 78. 'Knight Rider'Knight Rider" and "Battlestar Galactica" producer Glen A. Larson passed away November 14 after a battle with cancer. He was 77. Actress Carol Ann Susi, best known for voicing the unseen Mrs. Wolowitz on "The Big Bang Theory," died November 11. She was 62.Actress Carol Ann Susi, best known for voicing the unseen Mrs. Wolowitz on "The Big Bang Theory," died November 11. She was 62. Henry "Big Bank Hank" Jackson, a member of the hip-hop group the Sugarhill Gang, died November 11 of complications from cancer. He was 55.Henry "Big Bank Hank" Jackson, a member of the hip-hop group the Sugarhill Gang, died November 11 of complications from cancer. He was 55. Tom Magliozzi, left, half of the Tom Magliozzi, left, half of the "Click and Clack" team of brothers who hosted NPR's "Car Talk" radio show, died November 3. He was 77. "House of Cards" actress Elizabeth Norment passed away at the age of 61, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed October 28 via Norment's sister Kate. According to the star's obituary in The Washington Post, Norment died of cancer on October 13 at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York. Jack Bruce, bassist for the legendary 1960s rock band Cream, died October 25 at age 71.Jack Bruce, bassist for the legendary 1960s rock band Cream, died October 25 at age 71. Ben Bradlee, the zestful, charismatic Washington Post editor who guided the paper through the era of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate and was immortalized on screen in Ben Bradlee, the zestful, charismatic Washington Post editor who guided the paper through the era of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate and was immortalized on screen in "All the President's Men," died on October 21. He was 93. Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta died on October 20, close friends of the family and industry colleagues told CNN. He was 82.Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta died on October 20, close friends of the family and industry colleagues told CNN. He was 82. "August: Osage County" actress Misty Upham was declared dead by a Washington coroner after her body was found along a river in suburban Seattle on October 16. "August: Osage County" actress Misty Upham was declared dead by a Washington coroner after her body was found along a river in suburban Seattle on October 16. Actress Elizabeth Pena died October 14, according to her manager. She was 55.Actress Elizabeth Pena died October 14, according to her manager. She was 55. Isaiah Isaiah "Ikey" Owens, the keyboardist in Jack White's backing band, died October 14. The musician also played with bands such as Mars Volta and Free Moral Agents. He was 38. Mark Bell, who founded the highly influential techno-music duo LFO and later collaborated with Bjork on several iconic albums, died of complications from a surgery, his record label said October 13. Mark Bell, who founded the highly influential techno-music duo LFO and later collaborated with Bjork on several iconic albums, died of complications from a surgery, his record label said October 13. Actress and comedian Jan Hooks died in New York on October 9. Her representative, Lisa Lieberman, confirmed the death to CNN but provided no additional information. According to IMDb.com, Hooks was 57.Actress and comedian Jan Hooks died in New York on October 9. Her representative, Lisa Lieberman, confirmed the death to CNN but provided no additional information. According to IMDb.com, Hooks was 57. Geoffrey Holder, a versatile artist known for his ability as a dancer, actor and a pitchman for 7Up, died from complications due to pneumonia, his family's attorney said on October 6. Holder was 84.Geoffrey Holder, a versatile artist known for his ability as a dancer, actor and a pitchman for 7Up, died from complications due to pneumonia, his family's attorney said on October 6. Holder was 84. Paul Revere, leader of the 1960s rock band Paul Revere and the Raiders, died October 4 at his home in Idaho, according to the band's website. He was 76. Paul Revere, leader of the 1960s rock band Paul Revere and the Raiders, died October 4 at his home in Idaho, according to the band's website. He was 76. Emmy-winning actress Polly Bergen, whose TV and movie career spanned more than six decades, died on September 20, according to her publicist. She was 84, according to IMDb.com. Emmy-winning actress Polly Bergen, whose TV and movie career spanned more than six decades, died on September 20, according to her publicist. She was 84, according to IMDb.com. Singer George Hamilton IV, known as the "International Ambassador of Country Music," died at a Nashville hospital on September 17 following a heart attack, the Grand Ole Opry said in a press release. He was 77.Singer George Hamilton IV, known as the "International Ambassador of Country Music," died at a Nashville hospital on September 17 following a heart attack, the Grand Ole Opry said in a press release. He was 77. Northern Ireland's former first minister and former Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley has died, his wife, Eileen, said in a statement on September 12. He was 88.Northern Ireland's former first minister and former Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley has died, his wife, Eileen, said in a statement on September 12. He was 88. Richard Kiel, the actor best known for playing the James Bond villain "Jaws," died September 10 at a California hospital, St. Agnes Medical Center spokeswoman Kelley Sanchez said. He was 74.Richard Kiel, the actor best known for playing the James Bond villain "Jaws," died September 10 at a California hospital, St. Agnes Medical Center spokeswoman Kelley Sanchez said. He was 74. Joan Rivers, the sassy comedian whose gossipy "can we talk" persona catapulted her into a career as a headlining talk-show host, best-selling author and red-carpet maven, died September 4. She was 81. Joan Rivers, the sassy comedian whose gossipy "can we talk" persona catapulted her into a career as a headlining talk-show host, best-selling author and red-carpet maven, died September 4. She was 81. Jimi Jamison, lead singer of the 1980s rock band Survivor, died at the age of 63, it was announced September 2.Jimi Jamison, lead singer of the 1980s rock band Survivor, died at the age of 63, it was announced September 2. Acclaimed actor-director Richard Attenborough died on August 24, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported, citing his son. Attenborough was 90.Acclaimed actor-director Richard Attenborough died on August 24, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported, citing his son. Attenborough was 90. Don Pardo, the man whose voice introduced the cast of NBC's Don Pardo, the man whose voice introduced the cast of NBC's "Saturday Night Live" for decades, died at the age of 96, the network announced August 19. Skateboarding legend Jay Adams died of a heart attack August 14 while vacationing in Mexico with his wife. He was 53.Skateboarding legend Jay Adams died of a heart attack August 14 while vacationing in Mexico with his wife. He was 53. Ed Nelson, best known for playing a doctor in the 1960s nighttime soap opera "Peyton Place," died on August 13, his family said. He was 85. Ed Nelson, best known for playing a doctor in the 1960s nighttime soap opera "Peyton Place," died on August 13, his family said. He was 85. Actress Arlene Martel, whom Actress Arlene Martel, whom "Star Trek" fans knew as Spock's bride-to-be, died in a Los Angeles hospital August 12 after complications from a heart attack, her son said. Martel was 78. Actress Lauren Bacall, the husky-voiced Hollywood icon known for her sultry sensuality, died on August 12. She was 89.Actress Lauren Bacall, the husky-voiced Hollywood icon known for her sultry sensuality, died on August 12. She was 89. Actor and comedian Robin Williams died at his Northern California home on August 11. Williams apparently took his own life, law enforcement officials said. He was 63.Actor and comedian Robin Williams died at his Northern California home on August 11. Williams apparently took his own life, law enforcement officials said. He was 63. JJ Murphy, an actor who was set to join the "Game of Thrones" cast, died August 8, his agent said. He was 86. JJ Murphy, an actor who was set to join the "Game of Thrones" cast, died August 8, his agent said. He was 86. Actor Charles Keating, who had been fighting lung cancer for several years, died on August 8, his son Sean Keating said. Charles Keating was known for his role of villain Carl Hutchins on the daytime drama "Another World." He was 72.Actor Charles Keating, who had been fighting lung cancer for several years, died on August 8, his son Sean Keating said. Charles Keating was known for his role of villain Carl Hutchins on the daytime drama "Another World." He was 72. James Brady, the former White House press secretary who was severely wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, has died, the White House said on August 4. He was 73. Later in the week, authorities told CNN they are investigating it as a homicide.James Brady, the former White House press secretary who was severely wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, has died, the White House said on August 4. He was 73. Later in the week, authorities told CNN they are investigating it as a homicide. Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk, the last crewman of the U.S. plane that dropped the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, died of natural causes on July 28, according to his daughter Vicki Triplett. He was 93.Theodore "Dutch" Van Kirk, the last crewman of the U.S. plane that dropped the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, died of natural causes on July 28, according to his daughter Vicki Triplett. He was 93. James Shigeta, a prolific and pioneering Asian-American actor whose 50-year career included the movies "Die Hard" and "Flower Drum Song," died in his sleep in Los Angeles on July 28, his agent said. He was 81.James Shigeta, a prolific and pioneering Asian-American actor whose 50-year career included the movies "Die Hard" and "Flower Drum Song," died in his sleep in Los Angeles on July 28, his agent said. He was 81. Skye McCole Bartusiak, who played Mel Gibson's youngest daughter in Skye McCole Bartusiak, who played Mel Gibson's youngest daughter in "The Patriot," died July 19, at her home in Houston, her mother said Sunday. She was 21. While investigators didn't immediately determine a cause of death, Bartusiak had been suffering from epileptic seizures, according to her mother. James Garner, the understated, wisecracking everyman actor who enjoyed multigenerational success on both the small and big screens, died of natural causes on July 19. He was 86.James Garner, the understated, wisecracking everyman actor who enjoyed multigenerational success on both the small and big screens, died of natural causes on July 19. He was 86. Broadway legend Elaine Stritch died July 17. According to her longtime friend Julie Keyes, Stritch died at her home in Birmingham, Michigan, surrounded by her family. She was 89 years old.Broadway legend Elaine Stritch died July 17. According to her longtime friend Julie Keyes, Stritch died at her home in Birmingham, Michigan, surrounded by her family. She was 89 years old. Blues guitarist and singer Johnny Winter died July 16 in a Swiss hotel room, his representative said. He was 70.Blues guitarist and singer Johnny Winter died July 16 in a Swiss hotel room, his representative said. He was 70. Nadine Gordimer, a South African author who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991, died on July 13, according to her family. She was 90.Nadine Gordimer, a South African author who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991, died on July 13, according to her family. She was 90. Renowned conductor Lorin Maazel died from complications of pneumonia on July 13, according to his family. He was 84.Renowned conductor Lorin Maazel died from complications of pneumonia on July 13, according to his family. He was 84. Grammy-winning jazz bassist Charlie Haden, whose music career spanned seven decades and several genres, died July 11, according to his publicist. He was 76.Grammy-winning jazz bassist Charlie Haden, whose music career spanned seven decades and several genres, died July 11, according to his publicist. He was 76. Drummer Tommy Ramone, the last living original member of the pioneering punk band The Ramones, died on July 11, according to the band's Facebook page. He was 65.Drummer Tommy Ramone, the last living original member of the pioneering punk band The Ramones, died on July 11, according to the band's Facebook page. He was 65. Eileen Ford, who founded the Ford Model Agency 70 years ago, died July 9 at the age of 92, the company said.Eileen Ford, who founded the Ford Model Agency 70 years ago, died July 9 at the age of 92, the company said. Richard Percy Jones, the actor who gave Pinocchio his voice in the 1940 Disney movie, died at his California home on July 8. He was 87.Richard Percy Jones, the actor who gave Pinocchio his voice in the 1940 Disney movie, died at his California home on July 8. He was 87. David Legeno, known for playing Fenrir Greyback in the David Legeno, known for playing Fenrir Greyback in the "Harry Potter" movies, was found dead July 6, by hikers in a remote desert location in Death Valley, California. He was 50. "It appears that Legeno died of heat-related issues, but the Inyo County Coroner will determine the final cause of death," read a press release from the Inyo County Sheriff's Department. "There are no signs of foul play." Rosemary Murphy, an Emmy Award-winning actress known for her roles in the movie "To Kill a Mockingbird" as well as TV soap operas "All My Children" and "Another World," died July 5 at the age of 89. The New York Times cited cancer as the cause of death.Rosemary Murphy, an Emmy Award-winning actress known for her roles in the movie "To Kill a Mockingbird" as well as TV soap operas "All My Children" and "Another World," died July 5 at the age of 89. The New York Times cited cancer as the cause of death. Olympian and World War II hero Louis Zamperini, the subject of the book and upcoming film "Unbroken," died July 2 after a recent battle with pneumonia. The 97-year-old peacefully passed away in the presence of his entire family, according to a statement.Olympian and World War II hero Louis Zamperini, the subject of the book and upcoming film "Unbroken," died July 2 after a recent battle with pneumonia. The 97-year-old peacefully passed away in the presence of his entire family, according to a statement. Walter Dean Myers, a beloved author of children's books, died on July 1 following a brief illness, according to the Children's Book Council.Walter Dean Myers, a beloved author of children's books, died on July 1 following a brief illness, according to the Children's Book Council. Paul Mazursky, a five-time Oscar nominee who directed and wrote such films as "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice," "An Unmarried Woman" and "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," died at the age of 84, his agent said July 1.Paul Mazursky, a five-time Oscar nominee who directed and wrote such films as "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice," "An Unmarried Woman" and "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," died at the age of 84, his agent said July 1. Actor Meshach Taylor died June 28 at his Los Angeles-area home, his agent, Dede Binder, said. He was 67. Taylor had fought a terminal illness and faded markedly in recent days, Binder said. His wife, children, grandchildren and mother surrounded him as he passed away.Actor Meshach Taylor died June 28 at his Los Angeles-area home, his agent, Dede Binder, said. He was 67. Taylor had fought a terminal illness and faded markedly in recent days, Binder said. His wife, children, grandchildren and mother surrounded him as he passed away. Legendary soul singer Bobby Womack died June 27, according to Womack's publicist. He was 70. Legendary soul singer Bobby Womack died June 27, according to Womack's publicist. He was 70. Character actor Eli Wallach, seen here in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," died on June 24, according to a family member who did not want to be named. Wallach was 98.Character actor Eli Wallach, seen here in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," died on June 24, according to a family member who did not want to be named. Wallach was 98. Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died June 16 at the age of 54, according to a release from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Gwynn, who had 3,141 hits in 20 seasons with the San Diego Padres, had cancer.Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died June 16 at the age of 54, according to a release from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Gwynn, who had 3,141 hits in 20 seasons with the San Diego Padres, had cancer. Radio personality Casey Kasem died June 15. He was 82 and had been hospitalized in Washington state for two weeks.Radio personality Casey Kasem died June 15. He was 82 and had been hospitalized in Washington state for two weeks. Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll died June 13. He had suffered from Alzheimer's and heart disease. He was 82. Former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll died June 13. He had suffered from Alzheimer's and heart disease. He was 82. Ruby Dee, an award-winning actress whose seven-decade career included triumphs on stage and screen, died June 12. She was 91.Ruby Dee, an award-winning actress whose seven-decade career included triumphs on stage and screen, died June 12. She was 91. Former baseball star Bob Welch passed away on June 9 after suffering a heart attack, according to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was 57.Former baseball star Bob Welch passed away on June 9 after suffering a heart attack, according to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was 57. British actor and comedian Rik Mayall, who appeared in the TV series "Blackadder," died June 9 at the age of 56, his agent said. The cause of death was not immediately reported.British actor and comedian Rik Mayall, who appeared in the TV series "Blackadder," died June 9 at the age of 56, his agent said. The cause of death was not immediately reported. Chester Nez, the last of the original Navajo code talkers credited with creating an unbreakable code used during World War II, died June 5 at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Navajo Nation President said. Nez was 93.Chester Nez, the last of the original Navajo code talkers credited with creating an unbreakable code used during World War II, died June 5 at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Navajo Nation President said. Nez was 93. Ann B. Davis, who played Alice the maid on "The Brady Bunch," died from a subdural hematoma on June 1. She was 88.Ann B. Davis, who played Alice the maid on "The Brady Bunch," died from a subdural hematoma on June 1. She was 88. Maya Angelou, a renowned poet, novelist and actress, died at the age of 86, her literary agent said on May 28. Angelou was also a professor, singer and dancer whose work spanned several generations.Maya Angelou, a renowned poet, novelist and actress, died at the age of 86, her literary agent said on May 28. Angelou was also a professor, singer and dancer whose work spanned several generations. Australian racing legend Jack Brabham died on May 19, according to Brabham's son David. Brabham, 88, was a three-time Formula One world champion.Australian racing legend Jack Brabham died on May 19, according to Brabham's son David. Brabham, 88, was a three-time Formula One world champion. Malik Bendjelloul, the Oscar-winning director of "Searching for Sugar Man," died suddenly on May 13, police said. He was 36.Malik Bendjelloul, the Oscar-winning director of "Searching for Sugar Man," died suddenly on May 13, police said. He was 36. H.R. Giger, the Swiss surrealist artist whose works of sexual-industrial imagery and design of the eponymous creature in the "Alien" movies were known around the world, died on May 12. He was 74.H.R. Giger, the Swiss surrealist artist whose works of sexual-industrial imagery and design of the eponymous creature in the "Alien" movies were known around the world, died on May 12. He was 74. Former professional tennis player Elena Baltacha died at the age of 30 after losing her battle with liver cancer on May 4. Before retiring in November, she had reached a career high of 49th in the world rankings.Former professional tennis player Elena Baltacha died at the age of 30 after losing her battle with liver cancer on May 4. Before retiring in November, she had reached a career high of 49th in the world rankings. Al Feldstein, who guided Mad magazine for almost three decades as its editor, died on April 29, according to a Montana funeral home. He was 88.Al Feldstein, who guided Mad magazine for almost three decades as its editor, died on April 29, according to a Montana funeral home. He was 88. Oscar-nominated British actor Bob Hoskins, known for roles in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and "Mona Lisa," died April 29 at age 71, his publicist said.Oscar-nominated British actor Bob Hoskins, known for roles in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and "Mona Lisa," died April 29 at age 71, his publicist said. Hall of Fame basketball coach John "Dr. Jack" Ramsay, who became a television analyst years after winning a league championship with the Portland Trail Blazers, died on April 28, according to his longtime employer ESPN. Ramsay was 89.Hall of Fame basketball coach John "Dr. Jack" Ramsay, who became a television analyst years after winning a league championship with the Portland Trail Blazers, died on April 28, according to his longtime employer ESPN. Ramsay was 89. Former Barcelona soccer coach Tito Vilanova, who had been battling cancer, died at the age of 45, the club announced April 25.Former Barcelona soccer coach Tito Vilanova, who had been battling cancer, died at the age of 45, the club announced April 25. Country singer Kevin Sharp died from "complications due to cancer" on April 19, his mother told CNN. He was 43.Country singer Kevin Sharp died from "complications due to cancer" on April 19, his mother told CNN. He was 43. Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, the middleweight boxing contender who was wrongly convicted of a triple murder in New Jersey in the 1960s, died April 20 at the age of 76, according to Win Wahrer, the director of client services for the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted.Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, the middleweight boxing contender who was wrongly convicted of a triple murder in New Jersey in the 1960s, died April 20 at the age of 76, according to Win Wahrer, the director of client services for the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the influential, Nobel Prize-winning author of "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "Love in the Time of Cholera," passed away on April 17, his family and officials said. He was 87.Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the influential, Nobel Prize-winning author of "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "Love in the Time of Cholera," passed away on April 17, his family and officials said. He was 87. Jose Luis "Cheo" Feliciano, a giant of salsa music and a Puerto Rican legend, died in a car crash April 18 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to police. He was 78.Jose Luis "Cheo" Feliciano, a giant of salsa music and a Puerto Rican legend, died in a car crash April 18 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to police. He was 78. Days after being inducted into World Wrestling Entertainment's Hall of Fame, WWE superstar Ultimate Warrior died April 8. Born James Hellwig, he legally changed his name to Warrior in 1993. He was 54.Days after being inducted into World Wrestling Entertainment's Hall of Fame, WWE superstar Ultimate Warrior died April 8. Born James Hellwig, he legally changed his name to Warrior in 1993. He was 54. Comedian John Pinette, 50, was found dead in a Pittsburgh hotel room on April 5. Pinette died of natural causes stemming from Comedian John Pinette, 50, was found dead in a Pittsburgh hotel room on April 5. Pinette died of natural causes stemming from "a medical history he was being treated for," the medical examiner's spokesman said. An autopsy will not be done because his personal doctor signed the death certificate. Mickey Rooney, who started as a child star in vaudeville and went on to star in hundreds of movies and TV shows, died April 6 at the age of 93. Mickey Rooney, who started as a child star in vaudeville and went on to star in hundreds of movies and TV shows, died April 6 at the age of 93. DJ Frankie Knuckles, a legendary producer, remixer and house music pioneer, died March 31 at the age of 59.DJ Frankie Knuckles, a legendary producer, remixer and house music pioneer, died March 31 at the age of 59. Kate O'Mara, the British actress best known for playing Joan Collins' sister on the 1980s show Kate O'Mara, the British actress best known for playing Joan Collins' sister on the 1980s show "Dynasty," died March 30. She was 74. Ralph C. Wilson Jr., the founder and longtime owner of the NFL's Buffalo Bills, died at age 95, the team announced March 25.Ralph C. Wilson Jr., the founder and longtime owner of the NFL's Buffalo Bills, died at age 95, the team announced March 25. Gwar lead singer Dave Brockie died March 23 at the age of 50, his manager said. The heavy-metal group formed in 1984, billing itself as Gwar lead singer Dave Brockie died March 23 at the age of 50, his manager said. The heavy-metal group formed in 1984, billing itself as "Earth's only openly extraterrestrial rock band." Brockie performed in the persona of Oderus Urungus. James Rebhorn, whose acting resume includes a long list of character roles in major films and TV shows, died March 21, his representative said. Rebhorn was 65.James Rebhorn, whose acting resume includes a long list of character roles in major films and TV shows, died March 21, his representative said. Rebhorn was 65. L'Wren Scott, a noted fashion designer and girlfriend of musician Mick Jagger, was found dead of an apparent suicide March 17, according to a law enforcement official. She was 49.L'Wren Scott, a noted fashion designer and girlfriend of musician Mick Jagger, was found dead of an apparent suicide March 17, according to a law enforcement official. She was 49. Drummer Scott Asheton, who co-founded and played drums for the influential proto-punk band The Stooges, died March 15. He was 64.Drummer Scott Asheton, who co-founded and played drums for the influential proto-punk band The Stooges, died March 15. He was 64. Comedian David Brenner, a regular on Johnny Carson's Comedian David Brenner, a regular on Johnny Carson's "The Tonight Show," died after a battle with cancer, a family spokesman said March 15. He was 78. Actress Sheila MacRae, who portrayed Alice Kramden in a 1960s revival of "The Honeymooners" on "The Jackie Gleason Show," died on March 6, according to her family. She was 92. Actress Sheila MacRae, who portrayed Alice Kramden in a 1960s revival of "The Honeymooners" on "The Jackie Gleason Show," died on March 6, according to her family. She was 92. Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucia, seen here in 2006, died February 25 of an apparent heart attack. He was 66. De Lucia transformed the folk art of flamenco music into a more vibrant modern sound.Spanish guitarist Paco de Lucia, seen here in 2006, died February 25 of an apparent heart attack. He was 66. De Lucia transformed the folk art of flamenco music into a more vibrant modern sound. Actor, writer and director Harold Ramis, seen here on the far left with fellow "Ghostbusters" Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, died at his Chicago-area home on February 24. He was 69. Other popular Ramis films include "Stripes," "Groundhog Day" and "Analyze This."Actor, writer and director Harold Ramis, seen here on the far left with fellow "Ghostbusters" Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, died at his Chicago-area home on February 24. He was 69. Other popular Ramis films include "Stripes," "Groundhog Day" and "Analyze This." Maria von Trapp, seen here posing with a photo of her family, was the last of the singing siblings immortalized in the movie "The Sound of Music." She died February 18 of natural causes at her Vermont home, according to her family. She was 99.Maria von Trapp, seen here posing with a photo of her family, was the last of the singing siblings immortalized in the movie "The Sound of Music." She died February 18 of natural causes at her Vermont home, according to her family. She was 99. Journalist Garrick Utley died at age 74 following a long battle with cancer, his wife of 40 years said in February. Utley worked for CNN after his 30-year career at NBC News.Journalist Garrick Utley died at age 74 following a long battle with cancer, his wife of 40 years said in February. Utley worked for CNN after his 30-year career at NBC News. Devo guitarist Bob Casale, known by fans as "Bob 2," died February 17, his brother and band mate announced. Casale was 61.Devo guitarist Bob Casale, known by fans as "Bob 2," died February 17, his brother and band mate announced. Casale was 61. John Henson, the son of Jim Henson who is perhaps most notable for his portrayal of Sweetums on John Henson, the son of Jim Henson who is perhaps most notable for his portrayal of Sweetums on "The Muppets," died after a "sudden, massive heart attack," his family's company said on February 15. Veteran actor Ralph Waite died at 85 on February 13, according to an accountant for the Waite family and a church where the actor was a regular member. Waite was best known for his role as John Walton Sr. on 'The Waltons.Veteran actor Ralph Waite died at 85 on February 13, according to an accountant for the Waite family and a church where the actor was a regular member. Waite was best known for his role as John Walton Sr. on 'The Waltons." Sid Caesar, whose clever, anarchic comedy on such programs as Sid Caesar, whose clever, anarchic comedy on such programs as "Your Show of Shows" and "Caesar's Hour" helped define the 1950s "Golden Age of Television," died on February 12. He was 91. Hollywood child star Shirley Temple, who became diplomat Shirley Temple Black, died February 10 at her Woodside, California, home. She was 85.Hollywood child star Shirley Temple, who became diplomat Shirley Temple Black, died February 10 at her Woodside, California, home. She was 85. Joan Mondale, the wife of former Vice President Walter Mondale, died on February 3, according to a statement from the family's church.Joan Mondale, the wife of former Vice President Walter Mondale, died on February 3, according to a statement from the family's church. Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his Manhattan apartment of an apparent drug overdose, law enforcement sources said February 2.Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his Manhattan apartment of an apparent drug overdose, law enforcement sources said February 2. Maximilian Schell died on February 1 in a Austrian hospital with his wife by his side, his agent Patricia Baumbauer said. He was 83. Schell was nominated for an Oscar three times. He won in 1962 for "Judgment at Nuremberg."Maximilian Schell died on February 1 in a Austrian hospital with his wife by his side, his agent Patricia Baumbauer said. He was 83. Schell was nominated for an Oscar three times. He won in 1962 for "Judgment at Nuremberg." Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, known for classics such as "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" and "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)," died of natural causes in New York on January 27, his grandson told CNN. He was 94.Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, known for classics such as "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" and "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)," died of natural causes in New York on January 27, his grandson told CNN. He was 94. Ruth Robinson Duccini, who played one of the Munchkins in the 1939 classic "The Wizard of Oz," died on January 16. She was 95. Ruth Robinson Duccini, who played one of the Munchkins in the 1939 classic "The Wizard of Oz," died on January 16. She was 95. Former Playboy centerfold Cassandra Lynn Hensley was found dead at a friend's home in Los Angeles, the coroner there said on January 17. Hensley was 34. Her cause of death was not immediately known.Former Playboy centerfold Cassandra Lynn Hensley was found dead at a friend's home in Los Angeles, the coroner there said on January 17. Hensley was 34. Her cause of death was not immediately known. Hiroo Onoda, center, salutes after handing over his military sword on Lubang Island in the Philippines in March 1974. Onoda, a former intelligence officer in the Japanese army, had remained on the island for nearly 30 years, refusing to believe his country had surrendered in World War II. He died at a Tokyo hospital on January 16. He was 91.Hiroo Onoda, center, salutes after handing over his military sword on Lubang Island in the Philippines in March 1974. Onoda, a former intelligence officer in the Japanese army, had remained on the island for nearly 30 years, refusing to believe his country had surrendered in World War II. He died at a Tokyo hospital on January 16. He was 91. Russell Johnson, center, stands with Alan Hale Jr., left, and Bob Denver in an episode of Russell Johnson, center, stands with Alan Hale Jr., left, and Bob Denver in an episode of "Gilligan's Island" in 1966. Johnson, who played "the professor" Roy Hinkley in the hit television show, passed away January 16 at his home in Washington state, according to his agent, Mike Eisenstadt. Johnson was 89. Ariel Sharon, whose half century as a military and political leader in Israel was marked with victories and controversies, died on January 11 after eight years in a coma, Israeli Army Radio reported. Sharon was 85.Ariel Sharon, whose half century as a military and political leader in Israel was marked with victories and controversies, died on January 11 after eight years in a coma, Israeli Army Radio reported. Sharon was 85. Franklin McCain, seen center wearing glasses, one of the Franklin McCain, seen center wearing glasses, one of the "Greensboro Four," who made history for their 1960 sit-in at a Greensboro Woolworth's lunch counter, died on January 10 after a brief illness, according to his alma mater, North Carolina A&T State University. Larry Speakes, who served as President Ronald Reagan's press secretary, died January 10 at his home in Cleveland, Mississippi, following a lengthy illness, according to Bolivar County Coroner Nate Brown. He was 74.Larry Speakes, who served as President Ronald Reagan's press secretary, died January 10 at his home in Cleveland, Mississippi, following a lengthy illness, according to Bolivar County Coroner Nate Brown. He was 74. Poet Amiri Baraka, who lost his post as New Jersey's poet laureate because of a controversial poem about the 9/11 terror attacks, died on January 9, his agent said. Baraka was 79.Poet Amiri Baraka, who lost his post as New Jersey's poet laureate because of a controversial poem about the 9/11 terror attacks, died on January 9, his agent said. Baraka was 79. Sir Run Run Shaw, the media tycoon who helped bring Chinese martial arts films to an international audience, died at his home in Hong Kong on January 7 at age 106, the television station he founded said.Sir Run Run Shaw, the media tycoon who helped bring Chinese martial arts films to an international audience, died at his home in Hong Kong on January 7 at age 106, the television station he founded said. Stage, TV and film actress Carmen Zapata, who founded the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts as a means of of introducing "the rich and eloquent history of the diverse Hispanic culture to English-speaking audiences," died on January 5 at her Los Angeles home. She was 86.Stage, TV and film actress Carmen Zapata, who founded the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts as a means of of introducing "the rich and eloquent history of the diverse Hispanic culture to English-speaking audiences," died on January 5 at her Los Angeles home. She was 86. Portugal football legend Eusebio, who was top scorer at the 1966 World Cup, died from a heart attack on January 5 at age 71, said his former club, Benfica.Portugal football legend Eusebio, who was top scorer at the 1966 World Cup, died from a heart attack on January 5 at age 71, said his former club, Benfica. Alicia Rhett, who had been one of the oldest surviving cast members of the classic film "Gone With the Wind," died on January 3 in her longtime hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, a retirement community spokeswoman said. She was 98.Alicia Rhett, who had been one of the oldest surviving cast members of the classic film "Gone With the Wind," died on January 3 in her longtime hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, a retirement community spokeswoman said. She was 98. Singer Phil Everly, left -- one half of the groundbreaking, smooth-sounding, record-setting duo the Everly Brothers -- died on January 3, a hospital spokeswoman said. He was 74.Singer Phil Everly, left -- one half of the groundbreaking, smooth-sounding, record-setting duo the Everly Brothers -- died on January 3, a hospital spokeswoman said. He was 74.
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127 > >> Photos: People we lost in 2014 Photos: People we lost in 2014 Robin Williams 'lit up the room'

If it seemed like we knew what went on behind the many masks, it was because Williams' quicksilver mind and boundless talent possessed enough energy to blow them right off his face. He WAS Mork. He WAS Adrian Cronauer of "Good Morning, Vietnam." He WAS Patch Adams, and "Aladdin's" genie, and Mrs. Doubtfire.

But he was also the restrained Garp in "The World According to Garp," and the creepy Seymour Parrish in "One Hour Photo," and the firm but compassionate Sean Maguire in "Good Will Hunting," the performance that won him an Oscar.

It was that side of Williams -- something raw and vulnerable, not something manic and boisterous -- that made you wonder: who was he when he took off the mask?

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On Monday, Williams was found dead in his home in Tiburon, California. He was 63. Coroner investigators suspect "the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia," according to a statement from the Marin County, California, Sheriff's Office.

It's a cliché, of course, the clown who laughs on the outside while crying -- or dying -- on the inside. It's Pavarotti's Pagliacci and Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp; Willy Wonka and Laurence Olivier's Archie Rice.

Show business history is filled with stories of comic kings who fought against depression and substance abuse, not always successfully. Jonathan Winters, Williams' hero, was institutionalized for a time. The effortless Dick Van Dyke once said he was "mostly drunk for 15 years." John Belushi and Chris Farley died of overdoses.

Mitch Hedberg, Freddie Prinze, Richard Jeni -- all funny men, all gone before their time.

There's no question that comedy can be a form of escape -- and recognition. Richard Pryor, one of the most brilliant comedians who ever strode on stage, was raised in a brothel, married multiple times, struggled with demons both societal and personal. He was ruthless -- especially on himself.

Yet he was scathingly, mercilessly funny. It was comedy that drew blood, comedy as catharsis.

Chris Farley, on the other hand, grew up in a close-knit, comfortable clan -- but also sometimes seemed to be running from something. His immersion in Matt Foley, the divorced motivational speaker who lived in a "van down by the river," was both hilarious and a little scary.

"We lose at least one great comic to suicide or ODs every year," tweeted comedian Michael Ian Black on Monday. "Our jobs are to communicate, but we seem to not know how to ask for help."

Williams, the son of an auto company executive and a model, was remarkably open about his own battles. He was a chubby, bullied child who found he could make others laugh. Later, on talk shows, he could be outrageously stream-of-consciousness, a bicycle careening down a hill without any brakes -- and, just as quickly, brutally honest, admitting to sadnesses and abuses and mistakes.

"His bearing is intensely Zen and almost mournful, and when he's not putting on voices he speaks in a low, tremulous baritone -- as if on the verge of tears -- that would work very well if he were delivering a funeral eulogy," wrote Decca Aitkenhead, who interviewed him for the UK Guardian in 2010.

Inevitably, he'd make light of the problem -- the great line, "Cocaine is God's way of telling you that you make too much money," is his -- but underneath there was a sense of a man wrestling with demons, a man wishing to put on another mask in an attempt to scare them away. It is a mask that perhaps only the most blameless of us have never tried on.

But if it's another cliché that comedians hide anger under all those laughs, Williams didn't fit the stereotype. With him, what was underneath was compassion.

It showed in his performances, notably the therapist in "Good Will Hunting." It showed in his participation in such causes as Comic Relief, which raised money for the homeless, and in his USO tours, entertaining troops in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Celebrities remember Robin Williams

He'd had open-heart surgery several years ago, and it made him reflect on mortality.

"It breaks through your barrier, you've literally cracked the armor. And you've got no choice, it literally breaks you open," he told the Guardian.

Sure, there were performances in which he seemed less than kind -- whether on screen, as a villain in "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," or in his real life, with messy divorces that he described, with perhaps a touch of bitterness, as "ripping your heart out through your wallet."

Given all that, who wouldn't want to put on Thalia's mask, with laughter riding across the audience in waves, approval on demand, smiles all around? Robin Williams wore it well.

It's sad that, in the end, he exited with Melpomene.

Complete coverage on Robin Williams

See more comedy content at CNN Comedy.

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Source : http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/12/showbiz/robin-williams-dark-side-of-comedy/index.html

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