The Truth Behind the Fame and Hardships of Funny Man Robin Williams

Love is in the Air
And that wasn’t the only thing in Williams life that seemed to be on the up during these times.

In 1976, the aspiring comic was working as a bartender in San Francisco to supplement his pretty minimal earning from acting and performing. It was at this job that one night Williams met a woman called Valerie Velardi, and the two hit it off instantly.

Soon enough, Williams and Velardi were dating—but they had no idea the fame and fortune that Williams was about to achieve, and how it would change both of their lives.

Making his Mork
Having made quite a few minor appearances in various popular TV shows, in 1978 Williams was given a particularly exciting role in the super-successful sitcom Happy Days.

Williams played an alien called Mork, who lands on earth by accident, and is interviewed by Ron Howard’s Richie.Audiences and critics alike lauded Williams’ performance of the innocently bizarre alien, and his name was put firmly on the map.

But even Williams had no idea the amazing career leap this would lead to.

Out of This World
Following his stellar performance as the endearing alien Mork on Happy Days, the producers of the hit show decided to capitalize on the success of the episode.

They ended up creating an entire spin-off show based on the character, with Williams in the lead role.Mork and Mindy premiered in 1978 and instantly became a national treasure. The show also gave Williams free reign to improvise his lines and performances, and the world was soon in love with his incredible talent and comedic wit.

Mork & Mindy was an instant hit, and propelled Williams to superstardom within weeks of its launch.The first season received such high ratings that it reached number 3 in the official ABC rankings, after hit sitcoms Laverne & Shirley and Three’s Company. It even beat out Happy Days, the original show from which it had been a spin off.

And it wasn’t just Williams’ TV career that was really taking off—his life was reaching great heights in more ways than one.

Wedding Bells
As well as the hit TV show Mork & Mindy making him into a household name, things were taking off in Williams’ personal life, too.In June 1978, Williams confirmed that he and his girlfriend, Valerie Velardi, had tied the knot.

The happy couple had been dating for two years, ever since he had wooed her while working as a bartender in San Francisco.It seemed that things were looking rosy for Williams in both his personal and professional life—and they were only going to get more exciting.

Movie Star
Now a bona fide TV megastar in his own right, Williams was receiving requests from movie producers and directors throughout Hollywood who wanted a piece of his comedic talent and sharp wit.

Hot on the heels of his success in Mork & Mindy, Williams began his movie career with appearances in hit films such as Popeye and The World According to Garp.These early movie roles cemented Robin Williams’ place as a true icon in the Hollywood comedy scene.But he would one day go on to prove that there were even more strings to his bow.

Bundle of Joy
And things were continuing to blossom for Williams in both his professional and personal life.Now a Hollywood mega star, in 1983 the actor and his wife were delighted with some news a little closer to home—the birth of their first child, Zachary Pym “Zak” Williams.

“He’s just wonderful!” Williams gushed to People magazine about his intense love for his son. “The most sobering and wonderful thing in my life… We all love Zachary, and Zachary loves us all.”

Light Relief
You may have heard of the homeless charity Comic Relief—but did you know that Robin Williams was one of the key players in getting the organization off the ground?

Alongside Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg, Williams was one of the hosts of the charity’s inaugural event in 1986, showcasing 47 comics and raising over $2.5 million.Overall, Williams, Crystal, and Goldberg ended up raising over $80 million for the charity, according to the Los Angeles Times.This charitable and giving nature would be something Williams showed throughout his career.

Big Moment
Even though by this point Williams had already appeared in a number of movies, his first major film role came in 1987 with the leading part in the classic war comedy-drama Good Morning, Vietnam.

Williams played real-life radio DJ Adrian Cronauer, who earned the love of the troops but the ire of his superiors with his eccentric delivery.Critics and fans alike went wild for his performance, with Williams receiving a Golden Globe Award and an American Comedy Award, and being nominated for an Oscar.It was a career high for Williams—but all was not well behind the scenes.

End of an Era
Even though Williams was reaching new heights in his glittering film career, his personal life was going through some difficult times.

Over the years, as his fame and fortune grew, so did tensions within his marriage. Eventually, Williams confirmed in 1988 that he and his wife Valerie Velardi had ended their relationship.

“The separation was difficult,” he revealed in a poignant interview with People magazine. “But it was also gentle. Better to do that than to go at each other’s throats.”

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