Robin Williams was the most wonderful man. Kind, generous to a fault. He had the most intense blue eyes, and when he looked at you, you felt special. He appeared at our Digital Queers benefits, donated equipment to gay non-profits through the organization, and invited me to cool events. I will miss him.
Several of the highlights of my life are getting to improvise together just us two, and laughing so hard I could hardly breathe. The very best part was making HIM crack up. Nirvana.
I first met Robin at the invitation of my dear friend Russell Preston Brown at Adobe who hosted a photoshop invitational for luminaries. And Russell is the perfect convener/ringmaster/master illusionist so it was an experience to remember. We had so much fun that day, even if we weren't yet ready to retouch the cover of Vogue by the end.
For a short period I was his Mac consultant or one of them. Dye Sub printers and Mac Quadras for him and Performas for everyone else in the family.
We'd run into each other on the floor of MacWorld Expo or in the Fifth Ave. Apple Store at 2 in the morning (he with a very large security man). He has a wonderful family that it's been my pleasure to get to know a bit. I don't want to overrepresent our friendship, I didn't see him often. But every time he would burst into a wide smile say "Tom Rielly" in a funny voice, and give me a huge bear hug, and then improv. I was so happy when his son finally brought him to TED.
One story: From 1990-1995 Karen Wickre and my group Digital Queers held fundraisers at MacWorld to raise money to buy computers and technology for queer non-profits. I asked him if he'd come. I never dreamed of asking him to perform, but he volunteered. I'd brought a Genie doll from Aladdin just in case, and, while holding the doll, he did this hilarious riff on his ongoing lawsuit with Disney, among other things (see below). At the end, one of his companions said "you can't share that (due to the lawsuit)." I said no problem. It was our private thing, just for our audience, just for that night. He needed no script, no practice, he just was on.
He knew of some of my challenges and would always ask how I was doing, without prompting. I can truly say that I love that man heart and soul. I empathize with his struggles more than you can imagine. I am gutted. This is a day of tears.
Here is a short article from 1991 or 2:
San Jose Mercury News, Calif., Bits & Bytes Column By Rory J. O'Connor, SanJose Mercury News, Calif. Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News
SAN JOSE, Calif.--Jan. 12--The 800 or so computer mavens who forked over $25 each for tickets to last Saturday night's Digital Queers benefit party in San
Francisco knew their money would help a favorite non-profit group and they'd
get a few surprises and some laughs in return.
But revelers got more than a $25 entertainment value when an unexpected guesttook the stage at the Yerba Buena Gardens: comedian Robin Williams.
Williams galvanized the crowd with a 15-minute routine poking fun at gay
arch-enemy Sen. Jesse Helms, the Catholic Church and the Walt Disney Co.,
with whom Williams has a beef over royalties for lending his voice to the
genie in the movie "Aladdin."
Digital Queers co-founder and 3DO marketer Karen Wickre said Williams
originally agreed to appear but didn't tell organizers he'd donate a
performance until 20 minutes before he arrived.
In gratitude, Digital Queers co-founder and Supermac Technology strategist
Tom Rielly wanted to come up with at least a little trinket for Williams. A
clever T-shirt wasn't digital enough. But when he spotted Apple marketing
executive Michael Tchao near the stage, a deal was struck. Williams soon will
get his own Newton personal digital assistant - along with personal training