I came home this afternoon, after buying some late summer plants from our local nursery, to find that Robin Williams had passed away this afternoon, in an apparent suicide. Obviously I am not the first person to know. My Facebook feed was full of people expressing sadness at the death of such a talented actor and comedian.
Like them, I am saddened by the loss of such a great talent. I am also sad to see yet another well-loved person succumb to crippling depression, addiction, and his eventual demise. I caught bits and pieces of news over the summer discussing his return to rehab and struggles with sobriety. I had hoped that he would be able to return to a better life, but it was not in the cards.
Everyone has a favorite Robin Williams movie, character, stand-up routine. There are so many to choose from.
There is Popeye, which I loved as a child.
Good Morning Vietnam - which my mom loved when I was a child, and so I grew to love by default. When I was young, I thought it was hilarious... as I got older, I still find it hilarious, but see the sadness behind the humor. Such a wonderful movie...
Good Will Hunting - possibly one of my favorite movies to date. It is the movie that made me fall in love with Matt Damon (lot of good that did me), and truly appreciate the depth of character that Robin Williams had. While he had a small role, it was wonderful. Of course, the Academy had the good sense to agree with me.
Everyone's favorite blue genie... and probably the first in a long line of celebrity Disney voices in the recent Disney era.
I could go on for ages... there have been dozens of wonderful movies and wonderful roles. But, I do want to spend some time talking about my absolute favorite... Dead Poet's Society.
Every teacher has their own favorite "inspirational teacher move". They are often cheesy and sometimes horrible, but we watch them all. Every. Single. One. Some of us identify with Dangerous Minds (and while that is more my clientele, it's not "my" movie), others love Freedom Writers, Mr. Holland's Opus, Stand and Deliver... there are Lifetime movies that I will not bother naming. Along with millions of other English teachers, mine is DPS. I love everything about it. I love the themes, I love the music, I love the poetry... I even love the way they make fun of the terrible poetry book that he is supposed to be using.
I have loved this movie since it first came out - before I was even considering going into teaching. But, I watched it dozens of times (I owned a VHS copy) and eventually decided that was my calling. I should be a teacher. Oh yes. Not only that, but an English teacher. I have NEVER in my teaching career had one of those moments when kids would put themselves on the line for me... it's more like a never ending loop of the beginning of Dangerous Minds when the kids are crazy. Nonetheless, I still fantasize about the Dead Poet's classroom. I hope that some day, I will be in a room full of young minds that are learning and growing and (as a bonus) reciting poetry.
And now, even though Robin Williams is gone, I can only hope that generations of future teachers will be equally inspired by him and continue to fill classrooms with hope.