Robin Williams’ death in 2014 devastated fans of the beloved actor. Now friends and peers are shedding light on the years before his suicide. The comedian’s extensive drug use was explored in Vice’s The Dark Side of Comedy documentary series. His episode premiered in the second season of the show.
In the 1970s, Robin Williams began his stand-up comedy career, skyrocketing to fame after a memorable appearance as the alien Mork in Happy Days. This breakthrough led to his own TV series, Mork & Mindy. He also made a notable film debut with Popeye.
In the documentary, Williams’ friends observed that although he thoroughly enjoyed the company of others, he also deeply cherished his moments of solitude. As his fame grew, they began to witness him grappling with the challenges that came with it.
Among those interviewed is Williams’ Mork & Mindy costar, Gina Hecht. “Robin’s highs were so high and his lows were often low,” Hecht recalls.
Williams’ Incredible Stage Presence Fueld Drug Use Rumors
Due to Williams’ impossibly energetic stage presence, there were speculations of cocaine use. Witnesses claimed to see the actor in the rear of The Comedy Store, a known area for drug activity. Allan Stephan, a close friend of Williams, recounted a particular moment that sparked his concern. “He said, ‘Know anybody with any blow? I have to go on. I can’t go on without the blow.’ And I sat down and said, ‘I’m going to help you,’” Stephan alleged. “He goes, ‘You have blow?’ I go, ‘No, are you out of your f—ing mind? You’re Robin Williams!’
However, some friends speculate Williams abused drugs off-stage as well. According to Hecht, it was nearly inescapable for the superstar. “When you did have that kind of fame, drugs were just given to you,” Hecht pointed out.
Filmmaker and comedian Mike Binder recounted a memory of Williams’ response to “a gram of cocaine” during their time in Hollywood in the 1980s. “Robin said, ‘Let me take that. Do you mind if I grab a hit off that in the bathroom?’” Binder claims in the documentary. “He came back, and it was empty. It was like, ‘Whoa.’ It was like 8:15 at night.” Binder alleges that Williams tried to downplay the drug theft later. “It was an accident, I’m sorry,” Binder claims the comedian said. “With drugs, he was a monster.”
A Fellow Comedian’s Death Scared Robin Williams to Sobriety
The death of Saturday Night Live‘s John Belushi in 1982 deeply affected Williams, who had a close bond with the talented comedian. Sadly, Belushi passed away from a drug overdose at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in West Hollywood, California. According to the documentary, Belushi’s death and the birth of Williams’ first son in 1983 played a significant role in the comedian’s recovery from drug addiction.
Once he kicked drugs, Williams’ career continued to skyrocket. He landed other movie roles, including more serious fare like Dead Poets Society and an Oscar-winning turn in Good Will Hunting.
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