Local News

North Carolina, along with the world, remembers Robin Williams

Posted August 11, 2014
Updated August 12, 2014

— In front of a small audience, comedians at ComedyWorx Comedy Club Monday night practiced what Robin Williams preached through his work – moving at high speeds onstage with no map.

“He was a legend for getting on stage and doing stuff without really being scripted, and that’s what we do here,” club owner Richard Gardner said.

Gardner, like many others around the world, was shocked to hear of the iconic comedian and actor’s death. Williams, 63, died Monday of an apparent suicide in his San Francisco area home, officials said.

From the small stage to the White House, many paused to pay tribute.

“He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most – from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets.”

Williams was no stranger to North Carolina. Most of the 1998 movie “Patch Adams,” where Williams plays a real-life doctor who uses humor to help his patients, was shot in Asheville and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Williams returned to the Triangle in 2012 for an intimate “chat” with author David Steinberg at the Durham Performing Arts Center.

Recently, those close to Williams said he battled depression. The revelation isn’t surprising to Gardner, who said many comedians live their lives on extremes.

"That is where you get the creativity and the surprises that you find in comedy from,” he said. “They're a different breed of person and Robin Williams was an extreme."

On Twitter, Raleigh native Evan Rachel Wood summed up Williams' death in three words, using a screen shot from the movie "Aladdin" when the title character is hugging the Genie, voiced by Williams - "Genie. You're free."

Three hours after it was posted, the message was retweeted nearly 27,000 times and favorited nearly 19,000 times.


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  • Mary Zulch Aug 12, 2014
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    I am not sure about all of you, but Fern Gully the Last Rainforest (1992) was made extra special with his voice over of Batty Coda.
    It's one of my favorite animated movies.

  • Pepe Silvia Aug 12, 2014

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    So you wouldn't mourn for a family member that passed away? Or anyone? I wasn't talking only celebrity deaths but anyone in general and the ridiculous notion that there will be 'copycat suicides' because people see others saddened by another person's death and want them to be sad for them too.

    But then again, I don't know why I'm responding to you. Anyone who makes statements like "the liberal media" and brings politics into something where it has no place is generally someone who deserves to be ignored.

  • Beth Pearce Aug 12, 2014
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    Thank you for your perspective. Being an "outsider" to depression, your description did make a lot of sense and taught me something.

  • James McFetridge Aug 12, 2014
    user avatar

    Tragic. He had the makings to become the next Bob Hope.

  • disgusted2010 Aug 12, 2014

    His death is a tragedy, but as can be expected WRAL will use it to further their "Hits" and advertising and will go to any insane length to paint themselves as relevant. There is NO real tie between Mr Williams and this area, but in their never ending pursuit of relevance WRAL has to try to make ever story local.

  • LoveMyLab Aug 12, 2014

    Having lived with depression for myself and other members of my family I can tell all of you honestly that suicide is NOT about ending your life.

    Depressed people don't want to die anymore than non-depressed people. What we want is the PAIN to stop, just as simple as that. Make the pain of the depression stop. It's not physical, drugs can fix that if necessary, it's emotional pain, constant, never ending pain and agony.

    Now add the fact that you know; some part of your brain sees through this miasma of pain and agony to know the pain and agony your illness is inflicting on people who love you and whom you love. Logically you know, but you CANNOT stop it.

    That's what the suicide is about - just making it stop.

  • fifefan4life Aug 12, 2014

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    If you have truly received Jesus into your heart, then even suicide can't keep you out of heaven. He died for all sins, including suicide. Suicide is not the unforgiveable sin, rejection is.

  • Mannin Black Aug 12, 2014
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    And you are correct! Meditation is a great therapy to relieve the short term depression and prescribed by many in the mental health field. It is possible that meditation can be used instead of drugs all together but even if meditation works, counseling should always be used in conjunction with any treatment therapy.

  • JAT Aug 12, 2014


    But the reason why so many people don't talk about suicide and depression is plain ol' fashioned fear. You risk everything if you mention to a doctor you've thought about suicide. You risk being committed, having your children taken away from you, losing your job, embarrassing your family. As much as you want to be out of the depression, you can't risk that. So you go on, day to day, hoping it will get better; knowing that you'll never get off the medication; knowing that you have to hide so much from society and your loved ones. That effort takes a lot of energy but if you're good at it, you can do it.

    We don't know why Robin Williams hung himself and probably never will. Did he want to do drugs again so badly that he killed himself to save himself? Did he have a fight with his wife and childishly over-react? Did he just get tired of laughing and joking all the time? Whatever the reason, he is now at peace.

  • JAT Aug 12, 2014

    People who haven't experienced depression can't understand what it's like. It's not just "down in the dumps" and you can't just "get over it". The thoughts invade everything you do. You know in your heart that suicide would devastate your loved ones but you just want the pain to stop, the thoughts to stop. It's not so much that you want to be happy; it's that you just don't want to be sad anymore. A happy medium would be reason to rejoice!

    I grew up believing that suicide was bad and a sure ticket to Hell. However, when you try all you can and still see no way to live another day, I think God understands, at least I hope He does. I'm not saying the person goes to Heaven but at least he or she is at peace somewhere in between.