Oh Captain, My Captain


By Marci Liroff

I heard the news today, oh boy.

I see Robin Williams’ face all over my Facebook and Twitter feed. I feel confused and I still don’t believe it. I can’t accept it. We’ve lost one of the truly good ones.

I’m walking around in a stupor and can’t stop weeping. It’s not as if he was a close friend or family, but it sure feels like he was.

Years ago I was an assistant at the talent agency ICM. I visited the sets of shows that my boss covered. I regularly went to see Taxi, Mork and Mindy, and all the Paramount shows.

In the days of innocence before 9/11 and the hyper security we have now, I was actually able to stand on the stage as they were shooting. Robin routinely came up to try and hit on me as Mork. Each week he’d come up to me as a different character, trying to crack me open. He was so sweet and, of course, so funny. One time he dropped trou just to shock Pam Dawber. It became his goal to rattle her straight-woman composure.

I saw him regularly in the early days at The Comedy Store and The Improv and he never failed to entertain. His style was so stream-of-consciousness that I often wondered if he even came out on stage with an act worked out beforehand.

He was the first major actor to join us on the animated film I cast, Ferngully – The Last Rainforest. This was way before famous actors did voice-overs for animated films and preceded his role as The Genie in Aladdin. He took a giant leap of faith with us and generously donated his fees to the trust we set up to help save the rain forests. He also jumped on board the Christopher Nolan film I cast, Insomnia, as a serial killer. A brave move and it paid off.

Robin took chances and, on every level, went for it.

I feel gutted and devastated. That he was in so much pain to take his life and leave his loved ones is such a tragedy. I hear some say, “what a selfish thing to do,” or “how could he do that to his wife and children.” Consider yourself lucky and blessed that you don’t know the pain, fear, anxiety and hopelessness that one feels due to depression. A friend said, “It’s completely understandable, and it is often an attempt, misguided or not, to avoid being a burden.”

If you are struggling with depression and don’t see a way out, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and get help: 1-800-273-8255. Your friends and family need you.