Seven Years Ago We Lost Robin Williams, Beloved Entertainer and Dad

August 11, 2014, was a devastating day. In fact, many of us probably remember where we were when we found out Robin Williams had died. He was a comedy legend, a world-class actor, and a father and friend with an intense love for others. Of course, these famous characteristics were not enough to overcome the intense physical and emotional distress that plagued him later in life.

Now, seven years after his passing, Robin’s kids are reflecting on precious interactions with their father and doing their best to honor his legacy while combating the stigma surrounding mental illness.

“Being Robin Williams’ son was wonderful in so many ways [but] having to share him with the world was hard at times,” Zachary Williams said in a recent interview with Good Morning Britain. “When he was having challenges and going through certain things it was heartbreaking because he still went out and wanted to share his feelings of laughter and humor with the world.”

Robin and Zachary Williams
(Credit: Getty/ Shawn Ehlers)

In 2013, Robin began experiencing a wide variety of serious physical ailments that were seemingly unconnected. He had trouble seeing and sleeping, constantly suffered indigestion and cramps, and had symptoms of cogwheel rigidity, where a limb would randomly stop itself at certain fixed points in its range of motion.

“It was like this endless parade of symptoms, and not all of them would raise their head at once,” Robin’s wife, Susan, said. “It was like playing whack-a-mole. Which symptom is it this month? I thought, is my husband a hypochondriac? We’re chasing it and there’s no answers, and by now we’d tried everything.”

For nearly a year, his health continued to deteriorate, worsening his already substantial levels of anxiety and depression. Finally, on May 28, 2014, Robin and Susan received the first of two explanations as to his strange combination of varying symptoms: Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disorder that attacks the central nervous system, impairing motor functions and cognition until it eventually takes the victim’s life.

Devastated and terrified, Robin shared the news with his children and others who were closest to him

“I never heard him afraid like that before,” recalled long-time friend and fellow comedian, Billy Crystal. “This was the boldest comedian I ever met—the boldest artist I ever met. But this was just a scared man.”

Robin Williams and Billy Crystal
(Credit: Getty/E. Charbonneau)

Robin’s kids began reaching out more often to provide all the love and support they could, in whichever ways possible. Zak still remembers his sense of helplessness trying to diminish his father’s suffering during this time.

“It was really difficult to see someone suffering so silently,” Zak said. “But I think that there were a series of things that stacked, that led to an environment that he felt was one of pain, internal anguish, and one that he couldn’t get out of. And the challenge in engaging with him when he was in that mindset was that he could be soothed, but it’s really hard when you then go back into an environment of isolation. Isolation is not good for Dad and people like him. It’s actually terrible.”

As the disease ran its course, Robin became more and more reclusive. The work and creative outlets that used to bring him so much joy—acting and stand-up comedy—seemed unattainable now. Robin simply didn’t think he was capable of being funny anymore.

On an evening in early August, when Susan was away, Robin visited Zak in San Francisco. He acted as a stranger in his son’s home, walking on eggshells the entire time as if he was somehow intruding. When he eventually got up to leave, Zak asked what it would take to make him stay overnight—would he have to tie him up and throw a bag over him?

“Well, that was a joke,” Zak said in an interview with Vanity Fair with a bittersweet laugh. “To be clear, that was a joke. But we didn’t want someone who seemed like he was in so much anguish to leave. We wanted him to stay with us. We wanted to take care of him.”

Mere days later after returning home, on July 11, 2014, Robin was found dead in his bedroom.

“Sharing the grieving process with the world was hard. At times it was hard to differentiate what involved private grieving, and experiencing that loss, versus public grieving and experiencing that type of community interaction and communicating. I wasn’t prepared,” Zak said. “It was challenging. But I’m very grateful for the outpouring of love and support that continued… Here we are almost five years later. I feel the massive impact and difference he made.”

Zak now serves as a board member for Bring Change To Mind, an organization with the goal of fighting the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness.

According to the Bring Change To Mind website, they “create multimedia campaigns, curate storytelling movements, and develop youth programs to encourage a diverse cultural conversation around mental health.”

 

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“There’s no education in place to tell you how to deal with this. To balance how to grieve privately with your family and then also to have to grieve publicly. While it was nice to be heard, I was spending time on the outer layer instead of on the inside. It wasn’t just the survivor network for me, it was the whole world.” Zak is the son of beloved comedian Robin Williams- a suicide loss survivor, entrepreneur, investor, and mental health advocate. He serves on the board for Bring Change To Mind, an org whose mission is to end the stigma and discrimination around mental illness by creating campaigns, storytelling movements, and youth programs to encourage diverse and cultural conversation around mental health. I prepared for days before, even venting to a dear friend moments before Zak arrived. Would I make a fool of myself? Would I accidentally say ‘Oh Captain, My Captain’ and burst into tears? I was overwhelmed.Then my friend said something important -they said, “Be yourself, share your pain. His pain is the same.Remember who you are and why you’re there.” So that’s what I did. In front of me sat a man who lost a loved one to suicide. A man who understood the same level of devastation as I did, as so many of us do. I shared my story, of attempt and loss. Then I was honored that he shared with me his feelings of loss, devastation and growth. THAT is what I strive for: To create a safe space for ANYONE who’s been touched by suicide so they feel able to share. For 90 min, we were just 2 people who had lost someone, and found a common ground in our pain. After he left, I packed up, got in my car and started to drive.Then immediately I realized, OH YEAH, I’m not ok. I pulled over to the nearest park and I sobbed for 30 minutes. The tears were a culmination of what I’d accomplished in 18 months, they were hearing this man tell me my project was “extraordinary” and that he was happy to be part of it. That somehow, through the death of my sweet brother, I’ve been able to provide a safe space for Zak Williams and so many other people. It was a defining moment for me and for my project. I’m so fortunate to share words and photos from Zak’s session with you all week.

A post shared by Mariangela Abeo (@facesoffortitude) on

Robin’s daughter, Zelda, wrote an Instagram post in 2018 detailing the whirlwind of emotion and grief that surrounds the anniversary of her father’s death every year:

It’s that time of year again. Everyone who has dealt with loss knows the pain of certain anniversaries, moments full of memory that come round like clockwork and usurp all others, no matter how hard you may try to prepare for or avoid them. These weeks are the hardest for me, and thus, you’ll see me a lot less, if at all.

For all the internet’s good intentions in expressing to me their fondness for dad, it’s very overwhelming to have strangers need me to know how much they cared for him right now. It’s harder still to be expected to reach back.

So while I’ve got the strength, consider this my one open armed response, before I go take my yearly me time to celebrate his and my birthdays in peace. Thank you for loving him. Thank you for supporting him and his life’s work. Thank you for missing him. I do too.

She went on, encouraging fans to celebrate her father by giving back to their community in tangible ways, just as he preferred to do:

If you’d like to do something in his honor, volunteer at your local homeless shelter, or look up how to make homeless aid backpacks. Give one in his name. He’d have loved that. Otherwise some great orgs he loved include @cafoundation, @dswt, and @reevefoundation. Mostly, try to spread some laughter and kindness around.

And creatively swear a lot. Everytime you do, somewhere out there in our vast weird universe, he’s giggling with you… or giving a particularly fat bumblebee its wings. Happy early birthday, Poppo.
Miss you every day, but especially these ones.

She continues to pay tribute to his sense of humor and kindness, most recently honoring what would have been his 69th birthday.

Robin’s youngest son, Cody, even went as far as to schedule his own wedding on his father’s birthday this year as a way to honor his memory.

Robin Williams is the prime example of one’s external life not necessarily reflecting the internal. Despite being one of the most beloved actors, comedians, and fathers, he eventually succumbed to the pain and anguish he was suffering with privately.

Shortly after his passing, an autopsy revealed that Robin had an advanced form of Lewy Body Dementia, a deadly neurodegenerative disorder, that finally explained the series of symptoms he was dealing with. It also shed light on how strong Robin actually was given the full scope of what he coping with. This is the focus of a new documentary titled, “Robin’s Wish” set to debut this September.

Robin’s legacy lives on through his kids and even his grandchildren. On May 22, 2019, Zak and his fiancee, Olivia June, welcomed his first child into the world, paying tribute to Zak’s father by naming their son McLaurin Clement Williams—McLaurin being Robin’s middle name.

And of course, his legacy lives on through his comedy. Earlier this year his estate launched a Robin Wiliams YouTube channel which was well-received amid a pandemic.

If you or someone you know has been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Ryan Reynolds and The Rock Have Met Their Match in ‘Red Notice’ Trailer

Even superheroes have day jobs. At least, actors who play superheroes do.

Gal Gadot, aka Wonder Woman, Ryan Reynolds, aka Deadpool, and Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, aka Black Adam, are more than the capes and tights and lasso they sport in their mega-budget super flicks. They’re also working actors, and this November, they’re working for Netflix.

The movie is called Red Notice, and while they aren’t playing superheroes, they aren’t exactly playing chumps either. Not when you look like they do.

Here’s the synopsis: It’s the PRO vs. the CONS. An Interpol-issued Red Notice is a global alert to hunt and capture the world’s most wanted. But when a daring heist brings together the FBI’s top profiler (Johnson) and two rival criminals (Gadot, Reynolds), there’s no telling what will happen.

The first trull trailer was just released and it looks fun, of overstuffed. It’s a prison break movie, a heist movie, an action movie, a buddy comedy, and more. But nothing a few charming movie stars can’t handle.

The movie hits Netflix on November 5th:

‘Cheer Dad’ Goes Viral for High-Kicking His Way Into Our Hearts

If you cheer for the cheerleader, do you then become the cheerleader? Truly one of the great mysteries of life – a mystery that Rolland “Hekili” Holland doesn’t have time to ponder because, well, he’s busy cheering. Holland’s daughter, Mackenzi, admittedly used to find her dad’s distinct show of support embarrassing. But more recently, she’s found a new appreciation for her dad’s unique way of showing up for her.

Mackenzi is a cheerleader for York High School, but during a recent game, it was Holland who stole the show. As Mackenzi and her fellow cheerleaders perfectly executed their routine on the field, Holland did the same in the stands. Eyes locked proudly on his daughter, Holland hit every mark flawlessly.

41-Year-old Holland, a father of three girls, recently retired after spending 24 years as an Air Force Major. Due to his work, Holland spent periods of time stationed away from home during his daughters’ childhoods. He relished the time he got to spend with his family, supporting them wholeheartedly both at home and from afar.

Cheering along with Mackenzi is a long-standing tradition for Holland, going viral in 2019 for a similar video. Mackenzi, now a senior, is heading to college next year. Holland recently started a new career working on Air Traffic Control simulators, and at least until the end of the school year, he’s enjoying his honorary role as “Cheer Dad.”

Though Holland’s time as Mackenzi’s personal cheerleader is coming to a close, he remains hopeful that one day he’ll reprise his role. Holland’s middle daughter, Brayanna, made it abundantly clear that his shenanigans are not welcome at her softball games. His youngest daughter Jaymi, however, made no such proclamation. Ok, so she’s only seven, but Holland remains hopeful.

“‘Cheer Dad” might come back when Jaymi gets to high school,” Holland told theDaily Press. “But, if she’s embarrassed and doesn’t want it, then I’ll just be a regular dad.”

Scooby-Doo Dominates Map of States’ Favorite Spooky Kid Flicks

Look, I’m not here to bash Hocus Pocus. I’ve gotten into enough trouble doing that on social media. Besides, I have no problem with it being on a list of spooky children’s movies. Because that’s who it’s for!

The list I’m talking about was put together by USDish, and it lays out every state’s favorite spooky children’s movie, just in time for Halloween. None of the movies on this list of “most searched spooky kids movies in 2021” should come as a surprise to any parent out there who loves Halloween.

My wife and I have been doing our yearly “spooktober” tradition, which entails showing our kids – and ourselves, once the kids have gone to bed – as many spooky movies as we can throughout the month of October.

Obviously, the ones we watch after the kids are in bed are a little bit different than the ones on this list, but I will admit that Hocus Pocus – which the list shows dominates New England (the movie takes place in Salem, Mass) – is pretty scary, at least in terms of how bad it is! Sorry. Sorry.

80s classics Beetlejuice and Ghostbusters show up a few times, as does the Pixar weep fest Coco (in New Mexico and Texas, which makes sense, given the movie’s depiction of Mexican culture). E.T. even shows up a couple of times!

(Credit: USDish)

Some other key findings from the list:

  • The dynamic duo, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo, have stolen the hearts of Americans, coming in as the most searched movie in 13 states.
  • Apparently, button eyes are in this year, with Coraline coming in as the most searched kids’ movie in 11 states.
  • Halloweentown is Oregon’s top spooky kid’s movie, which is fitting since the movie was filmed in St. Helens.
  • Although Gremlins isn’t the most beloved nationally, it still has North Dakotans interested almost 30 years after its release.

Which of these movies are Halloween staples in your house?

Christmas Trees Will Be More Expensive, Harder-to-Find This Year

Hey, has your day-to-day life been annoyed enough yet by supply chain issues? No? Well, you are IN LUCK. From the people who brought you the coming holiday season toy shortage, we now have “Christmas trees will be more expensive!” news. And this one is a little more complicated than just blaming the pandemic.

For starters, blame the 2008 recession. Christmas trees usually take 10-12 years to mature and be ready for you to haul into your living room. After the recession hit in 2008, some farms closed or dramatically cut back on the number of trees they planted.

The next thing to blame is environmental issues, as an early frost in Vermont and New Hampshire killed off a bunch of trees. And then finally you can get to the pandemic, as the cost of things like trucking and the gas to chainsaw down those trees are all more expensive. And when things get more expensive, the costs just get passed on to the customer (fun!).

The executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association (which apparently is a thing) Tim O’Connor told TODAY they wouldn’t call it a “shortage” but listed some reasons why prices would go up.

Now, that makes those of us who are artificial tree people look smart. Why bother with the irregular tree, the strapping it down to your roof, the pine needles all over the house? Love the smell, buy a candle! With an artificial tree, you know what you’re getting every year and you know the ins and outs on how to best decorate it.

And if you’re ready to come over to our side, well, you’re also out of luck there too. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the price of artificial trees (and most decorations) will be as much as 25 percent higher, due to the ongoing supply chain and shipping issues. So, in a sense, we’re right back where we started.

Christmas isn’t canceled, it’s just going to be more expensive this year.

RUMOR: MCU Developing World War Hulk Movie

The MCU has been alive and kicking for more than a decade now. It kicked off with Iron Man and slowly picked up a collection of superheroes over ten years of multiplex dominating movies. Then they all came together to close out the Infinity Saga in Endgame. Along the way, nearly every major character was featured in their own movie, or collection of movies, culminating in Black Widow’s long-awaited, pandemic-delayed solo flick.

There was one core member of the crew who never got his own movie: The Hulk. But that may be about to change.

On Thursday, a website called The GWW broke the rumor that Marvel is developing a movie version of the celebrated World War Hulk storyline, featuring the big green guy. The article states that one of the reasons the Hulk hasn’t had his own movie – unless you count Ed Norton’s outing, which is technically a part of the MCU mythology (hence the Abomination appearing in Shang-Chi, and William Hurt’s General Ross continuing to feature in Avengers movies) but has otherwise been largely disregarded – is that Universal held the rights. Apparently, according to a 2020 rumor, Disney has them now.

The World War Hulk movie is rumored to be coming together at the end of this year and is meant to build off of the events, and the expanded Hulk-based universe, of the forthcoming Disney+, show She-Hulk, starring Tatyana Maslany. Mark Ruffalo will supposedly appear in the show, which will focus on She-Hulk’s exploits as a lawyer.

How the show leads into the space-based WWH storyline is yet to be seen – largely because we haven’t seen the show yet! – but odds are even if this rumor is true, Kevin Feige and Marvel will have to find a new take on the source material to make it fit within the existing MCU framework. The original storyline features characters that don’t yet exist on-screen.

And that’s only if the rumors are true. If they are, surely we’ll hear something soon. Especially since Mark Ruffalo is known to have loose lips!

Major Candy Maker Attacked by Ransomware Hackers Ahead of Halloween

One of the biggest candy companies in the U.S. of A. is having a difficult time getting its candy to the people in the days ahead of the Candy Superbowl thanks to a devious group of hackers. The weeks leading up to Halloween are a bad time for your candy production to go offline, but Ferrara is facing this difficulty as manufacturing facilities have been affected by ransomware hackers messing with their systems.

This seems like a big deal. Ransomware attacks are getting more prolific and for a while, they were mainly targeting groups like local governments (yawn). Now, they are attacking our nation right where it matters most (ok maybe not most, but this is candy, dangit!).

Ferrara is the manufacturer of many great candies, such as Brach’s Candy Corn (the only good candy corn). They also make SweetTarts, Laffy Taffy, Nerds, Red Hots, Lemonheads, Jawbreakers, Pixy Stix, and Everlasting Gobstoppers. Chocolate snobs may shrug off this hack-attack because it doesn’t affect the Halloween titans, but I am here to defend (some) these candies.

A proper Halloween basket needs some sweet variety to mix it up, and Nerds/SweeTarts are a staple in that category. Lemonheads are the most underrated candy on the planet, and Everlasting Gobstoppers are legit good. Gobstoppers are probably the best candy of that entire bunch. Pixy Stix, meanwhile, is the closest thing tee-ball players have to performance-enhancing substances.

And candy corn, for all its ills, is still the premier fall seasonal candy.

More importantly, if the hackers are targeting one candy company, they could put others in their sites. Several large grain companies were also majorly affected earlier this year by ransomware attacks.

A Ferrara spokesperson said the company has only been able to resume manufacturing in “select cities” in a statement acknowledging the attack.

Of course, any time a candy company is taken down, the first suspect becomes a disgruntled Oompa Loompa, but this sounds like it could be more serious. It may be time to start hoarding Nerds like it’s toilet paper in March of 2020.

Mel Brooks Is Bringing a “History of the World” Sequel to Hulu

A proliferation of streaming services and companies getting into the #content game means unknown newcomers have a better chance of seeing their vision realized on the small screen. Hulu is making that dream come true for one comedic voice, as the breakthrough performer is (checks notes) the 95-year-old comedy legend Mel Brooks. Hulu announced that Brooks is writing and producing History of the World, Part II, an 8-episode variety series, for the streamer.

This will be a sequel to his legendary comedy History of the World, Part I film in 1981. Only a short 40 years later, Brooks will take to the sequel. That’s like some George R. R. Martin timing right there. The original movie was vignettes and musical numbers covering the Stone Age, Ancient Rome, and all the way through the French Revolution. It may be most remembered for the very funny “Jews in Space.”

So the 95-year-old comedy legend, who also brought us classics like Spaceballs, The Producers, and Blazing Saddles. Just iconic stuff right there. And it’s amazing he’s still working in his mid-90s.

“I can’t wait to once more tell the real truth about all the phony baloney stories the world has been conned into believing are History!” Brooks said in the press release.

Of course, being in his mid-90s, he probably won’t play five different characters again in the sequel. Instead, he’s got some heavyweight comedic help. The series will also be written by Nick Kroll, Wanda Sykes, Ike Barinholtz, David Stassen, and Kevin Salter. Some major talent from the comedy worlds of stand-up and TV.

The series is currently in the writing stages with production set to start in the spring.

Sony Releases First Action-Packed Trailer for Uncharted Film

Uncharted has always been a cinematic gaming experience.  When you’re playing as treasure hunter Nathan Drake, you feel like you’re inside an Indiana Jones movie, pulling off death-defying feats and taking down bad guys.  The stories and set pieces were just ripe to be adapted to the big screen and today, we got our first official look at the brand-new film starring Tom Holland & Mark Wahlberg.

Just judging by the trailer, they’ve definitely captured the spirit of the games. Check it out for yourself down below.

Here’s the official plot synopsis:

“Based on one of the best-selling, most critically acclaimed video game series of all time, Uncharted introduces audiences to the young street-smart Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) and showcases his first treasure hunting adventure with wisecracking partner Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg). In an action-adventure epic that spans the globe, the two go in dangerous pursuit of “the greatest treasure never found” while also tracking clues that may lead to Nathan’s long-lost brother.”

Now, as someone who is a big fan of the game series, it seems like they’re pulling story elements from a few of them.  In Uncharted 4, Nathan was looking for his brother with Sully, but they were all much older (Sully especially being very wrinkly).  Also, the crazy airplane crash with all of the cargo flying out the back is straight out of Uncharted 3.  They’re taking some of the best elements from these games, but I hope it isn’t just a mish-mash of clashing stories and it actually works.  Still, it looks like a lot of fun and director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland 1 & 2, Venom) has proven himself capable of delivering some great action sequences.  Hopefully, Fleischer and crew can pull off impressing the legions of fans that love the video games, while also bringing in an audience that has never played the games before.

Uncharted releases exclusively in theaters on February 18th, 2022

Tarantino Wants to Make ‘Kill Bill 3’ and a Comedy Western. And Also Retire, So.

For years, Quentin Tarantino has said he was going to direct ten films and then hang it up and move on to other things. After writing and directing 2019’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood he has devoted his time to writing books (including a novelization of the movie), converting Once Upon a Time… into a play, and conducting interviews where he again suggested that his tenth film could be his last. Could that film be Kill Bill 3?

If number 10 is to be the end of his storied filmmaking career, capping it with the third installment – or second, if you count Kill Bill 1 and 2 as one film – would make some sense. QT has often suggested a follow-up where Vivica Fox’s character’s daughter sought her own revenge on Uma Thermon’s character, bringing The Bride’s own revenge story full circle. Recently, when receiving a lifetime achievement award at the Rome Film Festival, a reporter asked him if that could still be his 10th movie answered: “Why not?”

“But first I want to make a comedy,” he continued, mentioning his desire to direct a comedy-Western.

“It’s not like my next movie. It’s a piece of something else that I’m thinking about doing — and I’m not going to describe what it is,” Tarantino said. “But part of this thing, there is supposed to be a Spaghetti Western in it.”

“I’m looking forward to shooting that [thing] because it’s going to be really fun. Because I want to shoot it in the Spaghetti Western style where everybody’s speaking a different language. The Mexican Bandido is an Italian; the hero is an American; the bad sheriff is a German; the Mexican saloon girl is Israeli. And everybody is speaking a different language. And you [the actors] just know: OK, when he’s finished talking then I can talk,” Tarantino laughed while describing the project.

While Tarantino’s movies certainly have humor in them – “I shot Marvin in the face!” – few would describe them as full blown comedies. Whether the director can pull off what sounds like an ambitious, and odd, comedic Spaghetti western will have to be seen to be believed. But he hasn’t had many misfires yet.