Onstage, on television, in the movies or in a serious interview, listening to and watching comedian/actor Robin Williams is an extraordinary experience. An improvisational master with a style comparable to Danny Kaye, his words rush forth in a gush of manic energy. They punctuate even the most basic story with sudden subject detours that often dissolve into flights of comic fancy, bawdy repartee, and unpredictable celebrity impressions before returning earthward with some pithy comment or dead-on observation.
Born in Chicago in 1951, Williams was raised as an only child and had much time alone with which to develop his imagination, often by memorizing Jonathan Winters' comedy records. After high school, Williams studied political science at Claremont Men's College, as well as drama at Marin College in California and then at Juilliard. His first real break came when he was cast as a crazy space alien on a fanciful episode of Happy Days. William's portrayal of Mork from Ork delighted audiences and generated so great a response that producer Garry Marshall gave Williams his own sitcom, Mork and Mindy, which ran from 1978 to 1982. The show was a hit and established Williams as one of the most popular comedians (along with Richard Pryor and Billy Crystal) of the '70s and '80s.