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Robin Williams

Birth Date: July 21 1951
Birth Place: N/A

This dynamic, motor-mouthed performer, whose wicked, outrageous,free-associating humor leavened with deadly accurate impressions of incredible variety-made him a comic sensation in the 1970s. Since then the former street performer, Juilliard acting student, and stand-up comic has worked hard to have it both ways: retaining his unique persona while growing and thriving as an actor. And, in fact, he has succeeded, securing both critical adulation and audience loyalty in the process. Williams gained a huge TV audience playing the alien Mork in the 1978-82 sitcom "Mork and Mindy." An entrepreneurial producer put fleeting footage of Williams in his raunchy comedy-skit feature EB. Til I Need Glasses? (1977), but the performer's actual screen debut came when Robert Altman cast him as Popeye (1980). Williams took no punches for his energetic performance, however, and accepted an even greater challenge in The World According to Garp (1982), George Roy Hill's outstanding adaptation of the John Irving novel. Although Williams' character was basically benign, he was decidedly not comic. Williams' gift for dialects was then put to good use in Paul Mazursky's Moscow on the Hudson (1984), in which he had to create a convincing Russian character to go along with the accent-and did. He has never shied away from ambitious projects. He played a difficult role beautifully in an independently produced film of Saul Bellow's novel Seize the Day (1986), and achieved a high level of success in roles as diverse as an irreverent Vietnam-stationed disc jockey (1987's Good Morning, Vietnam for which he was Oscar-nominated) and an unorthodox prep school instructor (1989's Dead Poets Society again Oscar-nominated). Having established a strong bond with audiences, who respond to his teddy-bear warmth and infectious humor, Williams can shed his comic persona completely when he wants to, as in the moving Awakenings (1990, as a dedicated doctor who isolates himself from the world or the emotional roller coaster of The Fisher King, as a mad, homeless, medieval scholar, a performance that earned him an Oscar nomination). He can disappear into a character, like the would-be jock in The Best of Times (1986) or the King of the Moon in Terry Gilliam's fanciful The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989). And, as a bona fide star, he can have a lark, as he did playing supporting roles in Kenneth Branagh's Dead Again and-as a mime teacher-in Shakes the Clown (both 1991). Steven Spielberg's Hook (1991) offered the promising idea of casting Williams as a grownup Peter Pan who's forgotten who he is. Williams was heard at his best in a pair of animated features. The Last Rainforest (1992, as the comic relief character Batty) and Disney's megahit Aladdin (also 1992, as the quicksilver Genie, a part that allowed and even encouraged him to ad-lib to his heart's content). The live-action comedy hit Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), which Williams produced with his wife, also enabled director Chris Columbus to take advantage of his star's gift for on-the-spot comic invention, as he played a divorced dad who disguises himself as an English nanny in order to see his kids.
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