Robin Williams on Stage

By Douglas Reside, Curator, Theatre Collection
August 12, 2014
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Robin Williams. Image ID: TH-62471

While reading about riots in my hometown last night, I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a headline announcing the shocking death of Robin Williams.  I really can add very little to the many expressions of grief from those whose for whom his films were foundational stories of childhood.  

"Peter Pan's gots kids" says one of the characters in Hook, and in a sense, many of us in the Hook generation became those kids.  He told us "You ain't never had a friend like me!" and then proved it as he inspired us to seize the day and sound our barbaric yawps.  

Less prolific, though no less impressive, was his career in the theater.  In 1988 Williams appeared here at Lincoln Center with Steven Martin in a production of Waiting For Godot (filmed for the Theater on Film and Tape Archive [TOFT] here at the library), in a one man show on Broadway (released on commerical DVD), and in his first official Broadway show as the titular tiger in Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (also filmed for TOFT). uploaded the promotional reel for this last to YouTube.  In this play, the Tiger asks, "Now that I'm dead, I'm a ghost, why aren't I gone?"  

I don't think he will be gone for a long time.