Robin Williams: Bay Area made him feel normal - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Robin Williams: Bay Area made him feel normal

Posted: Updated:
In this April 21, 1996 file photo, Robin Williams reads "Stinky Cheese" to a group of children during a special children's program at the new main library in San Francisco. In this April 21, 1996 file photo, Robin Williams reads "Stinky Cheese" to a group of children during a special children's program at the new main library in San Francisco.
In this photo taken June 6, 2014 provided by the San Francisco Zoological Society, Robin Williams visits his namesake Howler monkey named "Robin" at the San Francisco Zoo in San Francisco. In this photo taken June 6, 2014 provided by the San Francisco Zoological Society, Robin Williams visits his namesake Howler monkey named "Robin" at the San Francisco Zoo in San Francisco.
In this file photo from Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010, actor Robin Williams hugs San Francisco Giants mascot Lou Seal during the first inning of Game 1 of baseball's National League Division Series in San Francisco. In this file photo from Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010, actor Robin Williams hugs San Francisco Giants mascot Lou Seal during the first inning of Game 1 of baseball's National League Division Series in San Francisco.
In this Sept. 20, 2003 file photo, actor Robin Williams, right, rides onboard Alinghi as the boat races against Oracle BMW Racing during the final day the Moet Cup in San Francisco. In this Sept. 20, 2003 file photo, actor Robin Williams, right, rides onboard Alinghi as the boat races against Oracle BMW Racing during the final day the Moet Cup in San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Robin Williams was everywhere in San Francisco, it seemed, as he made a place for himself in the everyday fabric of a city where he once said he passed for normal.

The comedian was there to usher a few fellow inhabitants of the Bay Area into life — visiting a pediatric ward, unheralded, each year on Christmas Day to welcome newborns to the world.

He also ushered friends out of life— delivering a boisterous eulogy for an iconic local journalist known as Mr. San Francisco, musing on heaven as a nice bar in the city with a dry martini.

In between, Williams had turned out to cheer everything from the Giants to the opening of a local public library. Bay Area people got used to seeing the actor at restaurants and stand-up clubs, even handing out treats to children at his house, with a topiary dinosaur looming in the yard, at Halloween.

After word of his apparent suicide this week at his home in Marin County, residents who had encountered Williams recalled a comedian who didn't always try to be funny but never failed to be gracious.

In 1998, Dr. Carrie Chen and colleagues at the University of California-San Francisco hospital had just delivered a premature baby on Christmas Day. "And then someone knocked at the door and said Robin Williams was there," Chen said.

"He looked at this tiny baby, all the tubes and IVs coming out of him. And then he looked each and every one of us in the eye, and personally thanked us for being there on Christmas Day, and for being there for the baby," Chen recalled.

"He made it all about us and not about him," she said.

The only child of a well-off auto executive, Williams was born in Chicago and moved to Larkspur north of San Francisco with his family in the late 1960s. In a 1991 interview with an Oklahoma newspaper, Williams credited going to a "gestalt" Marin County high school — where he said a teacher one day shared that he had just taken LSD — with helping him discover comedy as a way to bridge the gap he felt between himself and others.

Later, at the College of Marin, theater director James Dunn saw the genius in Williams when the young student riffed on stage one night, bringing classmates to tears of laughter. Dunn waked his wife when he got home. "You will not have believed what I have just seen," he told her. "This young man is going to be somebody one day."

Williams through the years raised funds and gave scholarships at the college, and he was a familiar sight riding his bike, running trails, shopping in the supermarkets in Marin. "He just loved the Bay Area," Dunn said. "It kept him away from the hurly-burly of Hollywood, and he liked that."

In private, people found Williams quiet and unassuming. Not the guy "with the lampshade on his head and throwing eggs in the air," said longtime Bay Area comedian Brian Copeland, who last saw Williams in February at a comedy club, Throckmorton, not far from Williams' home in Tiburon, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.

Williams "once told me that the average encounter with a fan lasts about 44 seconds," Copeland recalled Monday. "And that you should be able to be nice to them for those 44 seconds."

Williams had helped the San Francisco Zoo raise hundreds of thousands of dollars and donated time reading books to children, zoo director Tanya Peterson said Tuesday.

During a visit in June that turned out to be one of his last public outings, zoo workers showed Williams a howler monkey they had named after him, Peterson said. But Williams really had come to visit old pet parrot he had donated to the zoo years ago when travel made keeping the bird impossible.

He was "very thrilled to see the parrot with other parrots acting like a parrot," Peterson said. "I think it brought him great joy."

In 1997, Williams gave a San Francisco-styled eulogy to San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, whose work had memorialized the city's beauty and characters for decades. Caen was probably in his own version of heaven, Williams said — a club on San Francisco's Fillmore North.

Williams read out loud part of Caen's own tribute to San Francisco, where newcomers glory '"in the sights and sounds of a city they suddenly decided to love instead of leave.'"

"I'm sorry you had to leave, man, but you're still here. See ya," Williams said then.

___

Associated Press Writer Terry Collins contributed to this report

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

  • Entertainment NewsEntertainment NewsMore>>

  • Rock On: Michelle Obama book tour is reaching high

    Rock On: Michelle Obama book tour is reaching high

    Friday, September 21 2018 3:00 PM EDT2018-09-21 19:00:12 GMT
    Friday, September 21 2018 10:04 PM EDT2018-09-22 02:04:27 GMT
    (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert). FILE - In this June 22, 2018 file photo, former first lady Michelle Obama speaks at the American Library Association annual conference in New Orleans. Obama is launching a book tour to promote her memoir "Becoming," a tour fe...(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert). FILE - In this June 22, 2018 file photo, former first lady Michelle Obama speaks at the American Library Association annual conference in New Orleans. Obama is launching a book tour to promote her memoir "Becoming," a tour fe...
    There has never been a book tour quite like the one planned for Michelle Obama's "Becoming.". 
    There has never been a book tour quite like the one planned for Michelle Obama's "Becoming.". 
  • In Milan, colors pop at Versace, MSGM, Etro

    In Milan, colors pop at Versace, MSGM, Etro

    Friday, September 21 2018 1:50 PM EDT2018-09-21 17:50:50 GMT
    Friday, September 21 2018 8:41 PM EDT2018-09-22 00:41:27 GMT
    (AP Photo/Luca Bruno). Models wear creations as part of the Etro women's 2019 Spring-Summer collection, unveiled during the Fashion Week in Milan, Italy, Friday, Sept. 21, 2018.(AP Photo/Luca Bruno). Models wear creations as part of the Etro women's 2019 Spring-Summer collection, unveiled during the Fashion Week in Milan, Italy, Friday, Sept. 21, 2018.
    Colors pop at MSGM and Etro, while Marras stitches a tale at Milan Fashion Week. 
    Colors pop at MSGM and Etro, while Marras stitches a tale at Milan Fashion Week. 
  • Black Eyed Peas tackle gun violence, immigration in videos

    Black Eyed Peas tackle gun violence, immigration in videos

    Friday, September 21 2018 12:20 AM EDT2018-09-21 04:20:00 GMT
    Friday, September 21 2018 8:41 PM EDT2018-09-22 00:41:08 GMT
    (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File). FILE - In this June 30, 2018 file photo, Taboo from Black Eyed Peas performs "Where is the Love?" at the "Families Belong Together: Freedom for Immigrants" March in Los Angeles. The Black Eyed Peas tackle gun...(Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File). FILE - In this June 30, 2018 file photo, Taboo from Black Eyed Peas performs "Where is the Love?" at the "Families Belong Together: Freedom for Immigrants" March in Los Angeles. The Black Eyed Peas tackle gun...
    The Black Eyed Peas tackle gun violence at schools and immigration in two new music videos for their song "Big Love". 
    The Black Eyed Peas tackle gun violence at schools and immigration in two new music videos for their song "Big Love". 
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 KFMB-TV. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.