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Remembering Robin Williams

Honorary degree recipients Williams and Isaac Stern with Juilliard President Joseph Polisi at commencement in 1991.

 (Photo by Henry Grossman) More Photos »
Honorary Degree Recipients Robin Williams and Isaac Stern

Honorary degree recipients Williams and Isaac Stern with Juilliard President Joseph Polisi at commencement in 1991.

Henry Grossman
Robin Williams and Michael Langham (1991)

Williams, who got the Alumnus of the Year award in 1991, with Michael Langham, who was the director of the Drama Division at the time.

Downtown Exposure
Robin Williams in 1974

Robin Williams in a December 1974 rehearsal project of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Diane Gorodnitzki
Robin Williams in 1974

Robin Williams in a December 1974 rehearsal project of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Diane Gorodnitzki
Robin Williams

In 1988, Williams made a surprise return to Juilliard and spoke with drama students.

Jessica Katz

Juilliard joined the world in mourning for Robin Williams, the brilliant comic actor who tragically took his life on August 11. Williams, who was 63, matriculated in the Drama Division in 1973 with Group 6, bringing his indelible zaniness to our halls and performances. But as President Joseph W. Polisi noted, Williams’s “genius for comedic improvisation was matched by his deep understanding of the actor’s art and how to touch his audience in meaningful ways.”

Body

Despite his incredibly busy career, Williams maintained strong ties with Juilliard. In 1988, while he was starring in a New York production of Waiting for Godot, he made a surprise appearance and spoke with drama students. Three years later (far right photo), he kept President Polisi and his fellow honorary degree recipient Isaac Stern laughing before commencement.

But his contribution extended far beyond entertainment. The Robin Williams Scholarship supports the tuition cost of a drama student each year. The day after his death, Jessica Chastain (Group 32), who was the second of 13 recipients of the award, wrote on Facebook, “His generous spirit will forever inspire me to support others as he supported me.” As Polisi said, Williams’s “caring ways and effervescent personality will be missed by all who were touched by this special person."

For more photos, go to the library's exhibit.

Journal readers are invited to tell us their own reminiscences of Williams at journal@juilliard.edu or (212) 799-5000, ext. 340.

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