Both personally and professionally, Robin Williams led an incredible life. He made us laugh with his over-the-top stand-up comedy, his hilarious impressions, and his unparalleled humor. Robin Williams was a giver, famously using his talent and time to help people facing life’s many challenges. One story that stands out as emblematic of Williams’s character is how he came to the aid of Christopher Reeve after the horseback riding accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Instead of approaching the situation delicately or with any sort of pity, Williams approached it with humor.
Reeve recalled in his 1996 book “Still Me,” “Then, at an especially bleak moment, the door flew open and in hurried a squat fellow with a blue scrub hat and a yellow surgical gown and glasses, speaking in a Russian accent. He announced that he was my proctologist and that he had to examine me immediately. My first reaction was that either I was on way too many drugs or I was in fact brain damaged.”
That fake proctologist who insisted that Reeve flip over for his exam was, of course, Robin Williams – and unsurprisingly, Williams was the first one able to make the former Superman actor laugh during a time when laughter felt impossible. Robin Williams filled that role for so many who needed it, providing joy when it felt out of reach. While providing levity and hope to those around him, tragically, Williams was struggling with his own mental and physical issues that ultimately led to his death in 2014.
Williams’s incredible kids, Zachary, Cody, and Zelda, have carried on their dad’s legacy by recognizing others who have brought laughter to the world. Every year, the Robin Williams Legacy of Laughter Award is presented to someone in the entertainment industry who makes a positive impact. The Legacy of Laugher Award (LOL Award, was that intentional?) partners with Glenn Close’s nonprofit Bring Change to Mind, which aims to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.
This year’s recipient of the LOL Award was the Smith Family, making them the fourth ever recipients. Will, Jada, and their kids Trey, Willow, and Jaden (via FaceTime) graciously accepted the honor on Monday.
“This year, we wanted to honor the entire Smith family, as individuals and as a whole, for their longstanding contributions to the world,” Zak said. “You’ve held groundbreaking, open discussions about important topics like family, career, and mental health in a world that often expects silence from its most visible citizens.”
Zak continued, “Your charitable acts are many and varied, from feeding the homeless, helping inner-city youth programs, fighting AIDS in South Africa, and bringing safe water to those who need it most. And while doing all that, you still manage to entertain millions with your talents through your films, through your talk show, through music, laughter, and your clear and vibrant family bond.”
As with other recipients of the award, the Smith family embodies some of Robin Williams’s best and brightest characteristics. From their charitable nature to their humor and love for each other, this all-star family is truly deserving of the recognition.
In case you weren’t tearing up yet, Zak references his dad’s connection with Smith after both played the genie in Aladdin. “From one genie family to another,” Zak says, “thanks for sharing your phenomenal cosmic powers with the world.”