Up until this point, I don't believe that there has been a celebrity death that has struck me quite as significantly as the loss of Robin Williams.  James Gandolfini hit close to home because I was an absolute diehard fan of "The Sopranos" and felt that I was therefore familiar with a huge portion of his work as an actor, and Philip Seymour Hoffman was most certainly a tragic loss of talent as well.  I always cry during the "In Memoriam" part of the Emmys, the Grammys, the Oscars.  You seem to always recognize a face or two as they flash on the screen, you remember a movie that you once saw them in, feel a pang of "That's so sad!" and then they're gone, the memory is gone, and you move on, not out of lack of caring, but moreso because while they're a part of your memory somewhere deep, they didn't leave an indelible mark on your memories.  

Not this one.  Not for me.  Maybe it's because the face of Mr. Williams played the part of so many fantastically beloved cinematic characters.  From kids movies to award winning drama, he could take on any single character and bring that character to life, and in my eyes, that is what makes a truly fantastic actor.  To never be typecast into one specific genre of film, one particular type of script and characters, but to instead have such a vast array of talent that you can absolutely nail any part thrown your way... that's what leaves your mark.  That is what makes you truly great.

Same as so many of you, the first time I ever "met" Mr. Williams was as our beloved Ge-nie of the LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMP in "Aladdin."  He was blue.  He changed shapes and imitated Jack Nicholson.  He was hilarious and he lived in a lamp.  Even then, he had his young, absolutely obsessed audience in the palm of his hand.

My first encounter with Robin Williams as an actor was when he played Dr. Malcolm Sayer in the film "Awakenings."  I was young, probably too young, and I vividly remember watching the movie and being absolutely beside myself with tears.  Robin Williams as Dr. Sayer, DeNiro as Leonard Lowe, and a hospital in the Bronx where seemingly catatonic patients are brought back to life, if only for a little while.  Absolutely phenomenal.

I remember going to my aunt and uncle's house when I was little and I absolutely couldn't wait to get there because my older cousin had "Mrs. Doubtfire" on VHS.  It was the highlight of every trip, and I would laugh laugh laugh at Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire.  There were few better highlights at that age than the cake-to-the-face scene, followed by that unmistakable "Hellooooooooo!"

To this day, if I'm flipping through the channels and I see that "Hook" is on, I will stop and watch it in its entirety.  I loved Peter Banning, the Lost Boys, Julia as Tink... and I have always loved one of the last lines of the movie, when Tootles gets his bag of marbles back-- he really did lose his marbles.

The Birdcage was one of those movies that I saw when I was, again, probably too young, and I didn't quite get the humor for the majority of the movie.  Truthfully, I don't think I even understood the concept.  But today?  Today, this movie can make me laugh until I cry every single damn time.  How can we forget Armand Goldman dancing across the stage in rehearsals as he explains to the TOO interpretive dancer "You do an eclectic celebration of the dance! You do Fosse, Fosse, Fosse! You do Martha Graham, Martha Graham, Martha Graham! Or Twyla, Twyla, Twyla! Or Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd, Michael Kidd! Or Madonna, Madonna, Madonna!... but you keep it all inside."

For as long as I live, I will never forget watching "Good Will Hunting" for the first time, sitting on the couch absolutely frozen as the credits rolled.  It was one of the first movies that struck me to my core, that reached inside, stirred things around, and made me think that there was more out there for me.  Up until that point, I was quite the connossiur of crummy teen movies, so it was probably the first time that I also saw superb acting.  There was certainly the appeal of Ben, Matt and their friends, and Will's line "Well I got her number.  How 'bout them apples?" to the douchey Harvard guy with the ponytail.  And, they were in Boston, my dream city.  Robin as Sean Maguire absolutely made the movie.  I could list my favorite scenes but I would be better off showing a link to by the movie, because there are too many to list here.  This clip has been circulating the web since last night, and it absolutely encompasses why Sean, played by Robin, made this movie so fantastic.

Last, but so certainly not least, is the my beloved "Dead Poets Society," the movie that led me to pursue an English major.  Yes, it was just a movie, but it encapsulated my passion for the written word.  I would dream to have a teacher like John Keating, wishing that just maybe he could step through the movie screen and teach my AP English class.  No such luck.  I never had him as a teacher, but I'll always have his performance as the English teacher who pushed his students to think big, to be individuals, to step outside of the box and live for themselves, not for the expectations others have of them.

"O Captain, my Captain. Who knows where that comes from? Anybody? Not a clue? It's from a poem by Walt Whitman about Mr. Abraham Lincoln. Now in this class you can either call me Mr. Keating, or if you're slightly more daring, ‘O Captain my Captain’."

Rest peacefully now, Mr. Williams.  You will be so tremendously missed, but I can only hope that you are at peace.

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