Like other celebrities, actor
and comedian Robin Williams has a long history of involvement
with several humanitarian organizations. Two with which
he has been most notably affiliated include Comic
Relief and the Christopher
Reeve Paralysis Foundation.
Williams and Christopher Reeve were roommates at Juilliard
where they studied drama and became lifelong friends.
Even before either had made it big in show business,
they vowed that whoever did exceptionally well would
be obligated to help the less fortunate one. As
things turned out, however, both had extremely successful
careers. But in the wake of Reeve's crippling 1995 riding
accident, Williams vowed to pick up whatever hospital
costs Reeve's insurance didn't cover. Eventually he
also became deeply involved with Reeve's foundation,
The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation (CRPF).
Robin Williams is one of the most abundantly gifted
actors of our time, internationally recognized for his
many film roles playing compelling and compassionate
Williams was born on July 21, 1952, in Chicago, the
son of a Ford Motor Company executive. His parents were
middle-aged when he was born, and while both had grown
children from previous marriages, Williams was raised
as an only child and had much time alone to develop
his imagination. Williams was a pudgy child and was
often the new kid in the private schools. Much of his
quick humor developed as a defense mechanism against
the teasing he endured.
After high school, Williams studied political science
at Claremont Men's College and also got involved in
improvisational comedy. Interestingly, despite his lifelong
interest in comedy, Williams initially trained to be
a serious actor, first at Marin College in California
and then at Juilliard under John Houseman. While at
Juilliard, he helped pay his tuition by working as a
After leaving the prestigious art school, he returned
to California to perform standup on the club circuit.
It was during this time that he honed his tendency to
move quickly from idea to idea. His first real break
came after an appearance in L.A.'s Comedy Store, which
in turn led to a regular gig on George Schlatter's short-lived,
late '70s reincarnation of "Laugh-In." From
there, Williams was cast as a crazy space alien on a
fanciful episode of "Happy Days." William's
portrayal of Mork from Ork delighted audiences and generated
so great a response that producer Garry Marshall gave
Williams his own sitcom, "Mork and Mindy,"
which ran from 1978 to 1982. The show was a hit and
established Williams as one of the most popular comedians,
along with Richard Pryor and Billy Crystal, of the '70s
Williams' talents successfully translated to film. Among his most popular work are roles in "The World According to Garp" (1982), "Good Morning, Vietnam" (1987), "Dead Poets Society" (1989), "The Fisher King" (1991), "Mrs. Doubtfire" (1993), "The Birdcage" (1996), and "Good Will Hunting" (1997), for which he won the Best Actor Oscar.
With his wife, Marsha, Williams established
the Windfall Foundation, a philanthropic endeavor participating
in international organizations such as Medecins Sans
Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), national organizations
like The Pediatric AIDS Association and Make-A-Wish
Foundation, as well as the local charities Project Open
Hand, University of California at San Francisco and
San Francisco General Hospital Pediatrics.
CRPF is committed to funding research that develops
treatments and cures for paralysis caused by spinal
cord injury and other central nervous system disorders.
The Foundation also vigorously works to improve the
quality of life for people living with disabilities
through its grants program, paralysis resource center
and advocacy efforts. CRPF awards research grants to
the world's best neuroscientists. CRPF supports new
initiatives, takes smart risks and makes sure research
dollars are spent to do the most good. In addition,
through its Quality of Life Grants program, CRPF has
given 700 grants for a grand total of $6.5 million to
nonprofit organizations that help improve the daily
lives of people living with paralysis, particularly
spinal cord injuries.
Research is the key to a cure for paralysis. CRPF provides
the vital resources quality research demands. Scientists
are pushing toward cutting-edge discoveries and treatments
to cure paralysis caused by spinal cord injury and other
central nervous system disorders. Donations made to
CRPF have fueled more progress in spinal cord research
in the past five years than in the previous 50.
A donation to CRPF supports the research of the world's
most distinguished neuroscientists and funds organizations
around the country that improve the quality of life
for people living with disabilities.
You may also mail your donation to the following address:
Christopher Reeve Paralysis
500 Morris Avenue
more about volunteer opportunities.
In 1986, Williams collaborated with fellow comedians
Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg to host Comic Relief,
a TV program in which 47 comedians performed and brought
in $2.5 million in pledges for helping America’s
homeless. Comic Relief has held multiple telecasts since
then and has raised nearly $50 million.
Comic Relief has teamed up with No nonsense to help
homeless men, women and children in the United States.
their website for more details.
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