It's not unfair to say that Robin Williams' tragic passing this week hits home more than most. Generations of kids have grown up with his work, entertained by his wild, manic impersonations and, later, inspired by his deep pathos in films like Dead Poet's Society, Good Will Hunting, and Patch Adams. He elicited such engaged sympathy towards his characters, that he nearly managed to have audiences rooting for his sinister, lonely sociopathic character in One Hour Photo.
Yet Williams also had a fantastic sense of musicality, starring in many animated musicals, and was possessed of the odd theatrical habit of erupting into song every other sentence, even in real life. In memoriam, here's a look back at Williams' greatest musical moments:
10. "The Mirror Song" (from Toys, 1992)
In this scene, eccentric toymaker Williams creates a music video as a diversion to distract the guards monitoring his toy factory. As wonderfully absurd as the movie itself, it resembles a Talking Heads music video had it been directed by surrealist painter Rene Magritte.
9. "Fire" (from Throbbing Python of Love, 1983)
A piece of vintage Williams stand-up during his "Reality...What a Concept" tour, and possibly the oddest cover of all-time: Bruce Springsteen a la Elmer Fudd.
8. Bobby McFerrin's " Don't Worry, Be Happy" (1988)
The music video for the original and simple sentiment before "Hakuna Matata", in which McFerrin sang completely acappella, finds Williams and comedian Bill Irwin making a goofy cameo.
7. "I Feel Good" (from Good Morning Vietnam, 1987)
In the film, Williams plays a radio Dj in Vietnam who lifts troops' spirits through his song selection and wacky humor. The first video, where his character plays James Brown's "I Feel Good" is classic Williams, improvised and manic.
6. "It's a Wonderful World" (from Good Morning Vietnam, 1987)
The use of Louis Armstrong's "It's a Wonderful World" is both ironic and hopeful, set against a poignant backdrop alternating between war clips and scenes of utter countryside bliss.
5. "Figaro" (from Mrs. Doubtfire, 1993)
In the beloved Chris Columbus kids' movie, a broken family is united through Robin Williams' cross-dressing. The hilarious opening scene has a cartoon bird voiced by Williams' voice-actor character singing "Figaro" from Rossini's opera "The Barber of Seville".
4. "Dude Looks Like a Lady" (from Mrs. Doubtfire, 1993)
In this iconic scene, as Mrs Doubtfire embraces her faux-feminine side and masters her domestic abilities, she plays a celebratory Stevie Ray Vaughn-style guitar with a broom, appropriately set to Aerosmith's " Dude Looks Like a Lady".
3. "I Yam What I Yam" (from Popeye, 1980)
Williams' transformation into classic cartoon character "Popeye" was as uncanny as Marion Cotillard's into Edith Piaf. In this scene in the Robert Altman-directed movie, Popeye apparently comes to terms with the complexities of his own existence.
2. "Prince Ali" (from Aladdin, 1992)
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
The dreamy Arabian Nights-inspired animated classic has one of the greatest and most karaoked songs Disney has ever produced: "A Whole New World". However, the following two videos are greater moments for Williams' Genie, a complex character which allowed Williams to transform into the public's perception of the real Robin Williams, an ever-transforming figure whose job was to assist others in their hard times, while all the while woefully trapped himself.
1. "Never Had a Friend Like Me" (from Aladdin, 1992)
The title says it all.