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.”
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 email@example.com or (212) 799-5000, ext. 340.