Week in review: 8/11 - 8/15
This week was a somber one, marked by the passing of two beloved performers. Tragically, Robin Williams committed suicide Monday morning. While many knew of Williams' struggles with addiction, his widow, Susan Schneider, on Thursday revealed he also suffered from anxiety, depression, and had been recently diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.
The public display of mourning for the 63-year-old comedian and actor has been something to behold, and continues, several days on. Writers and fans have been moved to post lovely remembrances online, while Twitter has been awash with favorite Williams lines, scenes and images. (Unfortunately, some things shared on the social site have been grossly unwelcome.) Fans have turned the Boston Public Garden bench on which Williams and co-star Matt Damon sat during a pivotal scene in Good Will Hunting, the same film that garnered Williams a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, into a memorial site, strewn with flowers and notes. "Sorry guys, I went to see about a girl," one couple wrote in chalk beneath the bench, quoting Williams' character in the film. Fans on the West Coast have likewise bedecked the front steps of the "Mrs. Doubtfire house," the location of one of his best-loved movies, in San Francisco.
Having gotten his start as a stand-up comedian, Williams was first introduced to mainstream audiences via "Happy Days," on which he played the endearing alien Mork. He was soon to headline his own spinoff sitcom, "Mork and Mindy," which aired in the late '70s. Williams went on to enjoy a lengthy film career, starring in a number of movies that defined the childhoods of innumerous fans, including Popeye, Hook, Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji and Aladdin. Works that saw Williams embodying other iconic roles (seeing them listed one after the other in this manner, one appreciates just how many there were), include the aforementioned Good Will Hunting; The Fisher King; Good Morning, Vietnam; The Birdcage; The World According to Garp; and Dead Poets Society. It was a classic scene in the latter film that inspired Jimmy Fallon to stand atop his desk during a taping of "The Tonight Show" earlier this week, and give forth a moving tribute.
His was a career that spanned several decades, one Oscar, two Emmys, two SAG awards, four Golden Globes, and five Grammys. He is survived by his wife Susan and three children. We stand with Fallon and fans of Robin Williams the world over when we also say, "Oh Captain, my captain, you will be missed."
On Tuesday, 89-year-old actress Lauren Bacall died of a stroke. The Hollywood Golden Era actress was an "icon of cool," so proclaimed The Hollywood Reporter . With that voice, that first marriage, those eyes, and that reputation, Bacall was and will likely remain inimitable.
Her early career is the stuff of legend. The wife of powerful director Howard Hawks spotted her on the cover of Harper's Bazaar, and convinced her husband to audition her for a part. Bacall, whose real name was Betty Joan Perske, thus scored her very first film role opposite Humphrey "Bogie" Bogart in To Have and Have Not when she was just 19. The ingénue and the movie star married a year later, when she was 20, and he, 45. They remained wed until Bogart's death in 1957.
Early Bacall films include other classic "Bogie and Bacall" flicks The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage ('47), and Key Largo ('48). Many years later, she was nominated for her only Oscar for her work in 1996's The Mirror Has Two Faces, in which she played Barbra Streisand's mother. She was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2010, a moment she would later publicly disparage, as she neglected to thank her children during her acceptance speech. She spoke candidly about that award, and other notables in her eventful life, including that oh-so-brief engagement to Frank Sinatra, during a lengthy interview with Vanity Fair three years ago. The resulting article shows her to be every bit as difficult and fascinating one could hope of a woman with her reputation, equal parts talent and toughness.
Bacall won two Tony awards: for Applause, an adaptation of All About Eve, in 1970; and for Woman of the Year, in 1981. In 1999, the American Film Institute named her one of the 25 greatest female screen legends in American history.
"When I think about her in the future, though, the images that will come to my mind, like most everyone else's, will be from more than a half-century earlier, long before I was even a figment of someone's imagination, when she began acting in films that will live on long after I am gone," wrote Scott Feinberg in his THR tribute. "That's the magic of the movies. That's the magic of Lauren Bacall."