Updated:
Original:
Year
2014
Month Day
August 11

Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams dies at 63

Robin Williams, the prolific Oscar-winning actor and comedian, died by suicide on this day in 2014. He was 63. 

On the big screen, Williams, who was born in Chicago in 1951, made his debut in the 1977 low-budget comedy “Can I Do it ‘Til I Need Glasses?” then went on to appear in films such as “The World According to Garp” (1982), “Moscow on the Hudson” (1984) and “Good Morning, Vietnam” (1987), for which he earned his first Academy Award nomination, in the best actor category, for his performance as an Armed Forces Radio disc jockey. Williams also received best actor Oscar nods for his role as an influential English teacher in “Dead Poets Society” and his role as a delusional homeless man in “The Fisher King” (1991).

Among the performer’s other credits are “Aladdin” (1992), in which he voiced the part of the genie, “Mrs. Doubtfire,” in which he portrayed a British nanny and “Good Will Hunting,” for which he won an Oscar, in the best supporting actor category, for his role as a therapist. Williams followed these projects with films including “One Hour Photo” (2002), “The Night Listener” (2006), the “Happy Feet” series (2006-11) and the “Night at the Museum” series (2006-14). 

Williams was involved in a number of charitable causes, such as co-hosting telethons, along with Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg, for Comic Relief, an organization that helps homeless people. The actor also was a regular on USO tours, entertaining American troops around the world. In his stand-up routines, Williams spoke openly about his experiences with substance abuse and sobriety.

After Williams died, tributes poured in from the Hollywood community and beyond. President Barack Obama said: “[He] was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan and everything in-between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien—but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit.”

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Watts Riot begins

In the predominantly black Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, racial tension reaches a breaking point after two white policemen scuffle with a black motorist suspected of drunken driving. A crowd of spectators gathered near the corner of Avalon Boulevard and 116th Street to watch ...read more

Hussein succeeds to Jordanian throne

Prince Hussein is proclaimed the king of Jordan after his father, King Talal, is declared unfit to rule by the Jordanian Parliament on grounds of mental illness. Hussein was formally crowned on November 14, 1953, his 18th birthday. Hussein was the third constitutional king of ...read more

Federal prisoners land on Alcatraz

A group of federal prisoners classified as “most dangerous” arrives at Alcatraz Island, a 22-acre rocky outcrop situated 1.5 miles offshore in San Francisco Bay, on this day in 1934. The convicts–the first civilian prisoners to be housed in the new high-security ...read more

Germans begin to evacuate Sicily

On this day in 1943, German forces begin a six-day evacuation of the Italian island of Sicily, having been beaten back by the Allies, who invaded the island in July. The Germans had maintained a presence in Sicily since the earliest days of the war. But with the arrival of Gen. ...read more

Reagan jokes about bombing Russia

On this day in 1984, President Ronald Reagan makes a joking but controversial off-the-cuff remark about bombing Russia while testing a microphone before a scheduled radio address. While warming up for the speech, Reagan said “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today ...read more

Meriwether Lewis is shot in the leg

While hunting for elk along the Missouri River, Meriwether Lewis is shot in the hip, probably by one of his own men. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark had embarked on their epic journey to the Pacific two years earlier. The 33 members of the Corps of Discovery had experienced ...read more

Weimar Constitution adopted in Germany

On August 11, 1919, Friedrich Ebert, a member of the Social Democratic Party and the provisional president of the German Reichstag (government), signs a new constitution, known as the Weimar Constitution, into law, officially creating the first parliamentary democracy in Germany. ...read more