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Robin Williams - Actor/Comedian - College of Marin

College of Marin alum Robin Williams was considered to be a true genius in acting and comedy.

The acting bug bit Robin Williams as he was studying political science at Claremont College and he soon left the Southern California campus to enroll at College of Marin, near his parent's home in the Bay Area town of Larkspur.

At College of Marin, Williams studied as a classical actor and had parts in many of College of Marin's Shakespeare plays. Williams left College of Marin for Juilliard School in New York City, where he won a full scholarship, and studied under John Houseman.

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 the short-lived, late 1970s reincarnation of "Laugh-In." From there, Williams was cast as a crazy space alien on an 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 1970s and 1980s.

As expected, "Mork and Mindy" instantly soared to become TV audience's favorite until its end in 1982, even led Robin to nab an Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. Williams won a Golden Globe Award for best actor in a musical or comedy by 1979.

Williams returned to television in the fall of 2013 with "The Crazy Ones," a half-hour comedy on CBS that also starred Sarah Michelle Gellar. Williams played Gellar's father in the series with both characters working for the same ad agency.  It was the first TV series role for Williams since "Mork and Mindy."

His first role on the big screen came in "Popeye" (1980) followed by another in "The World According to Garp" (1982). But it wasn't until "Good Morning, Vietnam" (1987) that Williams scored a critical and box office hit. His starring role as a Vietnam radio disc jockey earned him a best leading actor nomination at the Golden Globe Awards and Academy Awards both in 1988.

More box office hits included "Dead Poets Society" (1989), "Aladdin" (1992), "Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), "Jumanji" (1995), plus "The Birdcage" (1996). Each grossed more than $100 million. His acting chops in "Good Will Hunting" (1997) earned him an Academy Award for best supporting actor.

Williams returned to College of Marin occasionally and once participated in the drama department's around-the-clock reading of Shakespeare’s complete works. Williams performed "A Comedy of Errors" as a solo piece. Interestingly, there is a scholarship for Julliard students in his name and another California Community Colleges alumna, Jessica Chastain (Sacramento City College), attended the prestigious art school through his largesse.

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