Knowing Robin Williams by Holly Woodland

PolitiChicks.comHaving spent many years during the late 70’s and 80’s in LA as not only a stand-up comedian and actress, but as a comedic booking agent as well, I had encountered Robin Williams on many occasions. Although I did not know him well, I would like to share some treasured memories of this gifted man.

The first time I saw Robin Williams, I was invited to watch a live taping of a new sitcom, “Mork and Mindy”. No one had heard of Robin Williams at the time and I believe it was the first or second episode and had not been aired. I sat watching a scene rehearse with Pam Dawber. She was to open the front door, yell out and then close it. It was a throw away scene and very mundane, not much to it. They had rehearsed it a few times, trying to light it and direct camera movement, and now were going to shoot it live. As the director yells, “Action”, Ms. Dawber goes to open the door (which the audience does not see outside the door), suddenly she stops and stands there with a shocked expression as the rest of the cast and crew began hysterical laughter. The laughter turned into howls as the director (in hysterical laughter himself) yells “Cut!” This young man now enters from the doorway, holding only a prop from the set over his privates and begins to chide Pam Dawber. The live audience gasps as this young man grabs a robe (Pam Dawber’s frilly robe) to cover himself and runs into the audience. I can’t remember what he said, but I do remember that I as well as the rest of the audience, began hysterical laughter ourselves. It was like watching a lightning bolt. He rushed from one end of the stage to the other, grabbing props and making fun of the new show. The cast and crew gave up trying to continue shooting since this had not been the first time they had to wait as Robin Williams entertained the live audience. Afterwards I was introduced to him and here stood this lightening bolt I had just witnessed, polite and gentlemanly shaking my hand saying, “Nice to meet you.”

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Another encounter was when I had just finished a set on stage live at “The Improv” in LA. I stood in the hallway alone, thinking about the set and questioning to myself how I had performed. Suddenly I see Robin Williams (a huge star by now) approaching and I move away, letting him pass through the narrow hallway. I then hear this gentle voice saying, “Nice to see you again, you were very funny. Great job.” I think I said, “Thank you”, I know we conversed, but all I could think was: “OMG it’s Robin Williams!!” I was astounded this mega star, with no entourage around, took the time to talk to encourage little ole’ me. But that is who he was.

I had seen him many times afterwards, running into him here or there. He was the life of the party and seemed to have it all. He could have easily been like so many who achieved notoriety, arrogant and dismissive, but he was not. He always supported other performers, always was respectful and polite to everyone. He was a brilliant performer, in every genre of entertainment. But most of all, I remember a kind and gentle soul.

Holly Woodland

Holly Woodland is a native Californian who has been in the entertainment industry for over 30 years. In 'real life' she is a working actress, author and now Holly Woodland, a Hollywood film critic. Holly began her acting career on the stages of New York and leading theaters across the country. Once gaining her professional theater credits, she moved back to Los Angeles where she appeared in several television series including: Weeds, Grey's Anatomy, and was a regular comedic sketch artist on Jay Leno's Tonight Show for several years. She has authored many live theatrical productions, which are currently running across the United States. Holly's travels both in this country and abroad gives her the perspective of what she feels real people want to see in entertainment, whether it be films of today or the glorious films of the past.

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