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Editorial: Connecting with Robin Williams

An entertainer has to make a connection with an audience.

Without that connection, chances are you’re not going to be in show business for long.

Given the outpouring of grief surrounding the suicide of Robin Williams this week, it’s clear that people around the world weren’t only acquainted with his work, they had developed an emotional attachment on several levels.

We can start with Williams’ ability to make people laugh. Saying that his comedic craft was based upon improvisation falls way short in describing what Williams brought to the screen or stage. If he had been a Looney Tunes cartoon character, he would have been part Bugs Bunny and part Tasmanian Devil — a ball of wisecracking frantic energy that kept you from knowing what — or who — might happen next.

But along with making people laugh, Williams could bring his audience along to feel a wide gamut of emotions. That talent was responsible for his winning an Oscar for his role as a deeply caring therapist in “Good Will Hunting.”

Whatever the role, curiosity and anticipation — or fear — of what might happen next, drew people to Williams and his work. It was a connection that made him seem to be a genius who was approachable.

Through the many interviews that were done during his lifetime — most marked by wild forays into his imagination that had the interviewer struggling to keep focus — the public learned that off stage he was a quiet, reflective individual who had the same insecurities and issues that so many of them experience in their lives. This included struggles with addiction and — as recently reported, with finances and diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease — issues that undoubtedly added to the pain and suffering associated with his bouts of severe depression.

His tragic death this week shouldn’t end the connection that people feel they had with Williams.

They should take the time to find out more about depression, a disease that may be hard to detect but can be as debilitating and deadly as terminal cancer.

Robin Williams’ demons are shared by others. Finding ways to help those who suffer from a mental illness such as depression would be a fitting way to honor his memory.

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