Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Day The Laughter Died

Friend, colleague, and fellow broadcaster Neal West seemed to sum it up in one short sentence. Yesterday was  "The Day The Laughter Died."

Just a little less than 24 hours ago American icon and comic genius Robin Williams passed away, apparently at his own hand as he lost his battle with severe depression.  Williams was an incrediblely talented performer who handed out smiles and laughter better and more often than anyone I can think of. His death comes as a shock to friends, family, and fans alike.

I learned of Williams passing after an early departure from work, as I sat on the side of the road in a broken down bus and in the same manner as many of you.....through social media.  At first I thought it was a mistake. Then the texts and Twitter messages started pouring in. It soon became all too obvious that this was no mistake.

Within what seemed like only a few short minutes, word of Williams passing was spreading like wildfire. Even within the confines of a broken down transit bus on the side of the highway, it was all anyone wanted to talk about. Then from the back of the bus and in a not so loud manner, I heard  a voice utter one of Robin Williams most recognizable movie lines........"Good Morning Vietnam!!!!"  I turned to see that the person who belonged to that voice was a older man who was very disheveled, appearing to have little more than the clothes on his back....and memories of one of Williams funniest pieces of work.  From the rich and famous on Twitter and Facebook to average everyday run of the mill people and even that homeless guy sitting in the back of a broken down bus, the effect the passing of Robin Williams was having was very clear.

That line from the homeless guy also reminded me of one of my favorite Williams movies.

For those of you who know a little bit about me, you may know that during my career in the U.S. Navy, I did the same thing periodically that Robin Williams did in "Good Morning Vietnam."  Even though Hollywood, in their typical fashion, took some liberties with the story......Robin still did it better on the big screen than I could ever hope to do in real life.  Yes, that was one of my favorite movies, but  it was by no means his defining movie or performance.  His resume was one that most Hollywood superstars could only dream of.

According to IMDB (Internet Movie Database) Williams list of official credits dates back to 1977 and stands at 102, including three new projects slated for release in late 2014 and early 2015. He was rarely absent from either the big screen or television and when he was it was only for a few shorts months at a time. You can see that complete list here.  It's a very impressive list indeed.

I suppose if there is anything positive to come from this sad tragic affair, it would be that a spotlight will once again shine on depression and those who struggle to deal with it in their daily lives.  No one should have to deal with the types of issues Robin Williams dealt with alone.  If you feel like you may be suffering from depression or know someone who is, help is available.  Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or check out the Suicide Prevention Lifeline Website.

So in the days ahead as we honor and remember Robin Williams, keep those others still suffering in your thoughts and prayers and help where you can.  Spend some time watching a 'RW'  flick with a friend and lets see if we can prevent this day from becoming known as "The Day the Laughter Died."

Til Next Time..........