ROBIN by Dave Itzkoff

Robin is the biography of Robin William, a portrait of the life and time of one of the world’s greatest comedians.

From his early stand up comedian days to his first break out role with Mork and Mindy, Robin Williams was one of a kind. Said to have a photographic memory, Robin could reads lines to a script and have it down. His comedy acts were mostly unrehearsed and he could switch gears and go off on a completely different direction and be hilariously funny all the way.

Robin’s brilliance did not come without demons. He feared the days he would not be funny, the days when he did not receive the approval he very much craved. He struggled with addiction and divorced twice.

Yet for a time, he was a brilliant shining actor and comedian, a household name and someone not to be forgotten.



“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived here. This is to have succeeded.”

~Robin Williams

I grew up in the time of great comedians such as Eddy Murphy, Billy Crystal, John Candy, Ellen Degeneres, and of course Robin Williams.

I listened to this book on audio (fantastic narration by Fred Berman) and loved the trip down memory lane to movies I loved and now after listening to this, I want to have a Robin Williams day (or possibly week) where I watch all these greats:

Dead Poets Society – interesting to hear in the book the struggle not only to get Robin to do the part, but to get someone to make this idea a movie, only to become an Oscar Winning movie.

Good Morning Vietnam – a movie where Robin really was allowed to be himself, off the cuff humor what required little direction.

Mrs. Doubtfire: Interesting to hear the poor review from Roger Ebert comparing Dustin Hoffman’s Tootsie to being brilliant acting as opposed to Robin’s Mrs. Doubtfire basically just being Robin playing a woman with yet another of his voices. (personally I loved it and still laugh)

Good Will Hunting: Robin won an academy award for best supporting actor

Jumanji – so so good

And these are just to name my favorites.

He was of course not always politely correct (what comedian was/is) and a lot of his material he would not have got away with in todays world. There is one part where the books talks about a running joke he would use regarding the Hell’s Angels – until, at one show, Robin encounters some of the Hell’s Angels who tell him in no uncertain terms that his bit about them – has to go.
And, it does.

If you enjoyed Robin Williams I highly recommend listening to or reading this book. I really found his life story interesting. As the book closes in on his final days and you start to interpret how he was saying good bye, you can not help but be saddened. He was a brilliant man and we were lucky to have had even just a piece of his magic for a little while.

12 thoughts on “ROBIN by Dave Itzkoff

  1. Amazon had this on Kindle for $1.99 the other day, I should have got it. I seriously thought about it but I rarely read e-books.

  2. Currently it is actually a Bookbub promo for $1.99. Since I was reading the library copy on kindle, I just hit the *buy* button this morning. I’m not that far in, but after reading your review I am really glad I bought it.

  3. Such a sad tale. I think many successful comedians have a need for approval and some mental health issues. Jonathan Winters lived in my town and would often entertain people in public when he was in a manic phase.

    1. SO true Helen. It was a great walk through memory lane remembering his movies and incredibly fun spirit, the ending is hard as I can only imagine how scary that had to be for him when he knew he was losing control.

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