Twenty-six things you didn't know about Robin Williams

He went cycling with Lance Armstrong, was voted 'least likely to succeed' at school, and invented the swear word 'Shazbot'. Here are 26 things you might not know about Robin Williams.

• When he auditioned for the role of Mork from Ork on Happy Days (1974), producer Garry Marshall told him to sit down. Williams immediately sat on his head on the chair. Marshall hired him, saying that he was the only alien who auditioned.

• During the making of Mork & Mindy (1978), Williams departed from the scripts and ad libbed so many times and so well, that the producers stopped trying to make him stick to the script and deliberately left gaps in the later scripts leaving only, "Mork can go off here" in those places so Robin could improvise.

• Is a huge fan of rugby union, and in particular New Zealand All Black star Jonah Lomu, who flew to San Francisco and presented him with a signed All Black jersey. On a recent visit to New Zealand they were reunited on national television, Williams humbly accepting another All Black jersey, except this time it had Jonah's number 11 on the back.

• Enjoyed cycling and occasionally trained with Lance Armstrong.

• After having won the Academy Award for Good Will Hunting (1997), he sent Peer Augustinski (who is his standard German dubbing voice) a little Oscar replica with a note: "Thank you for making me famous in Germany."

• In 1996, he reached a unique milestone by having two of his films reach the $100-million mark in the United States exactly the same week: Jumanji (1995) and The Birdcage (1996).

• Was voted "Most Humorous" and "Least likely to succeed" in school.

• One week after Christopher Reeve's crippling horseriding accident, Robin visited him in the hospital. However, he was dressed from head to toe in scrubs, spoke with a Russian accent, and had a surgical mask on. He was acting as if he was a real doctor and did a bunch of wacky antics. After he took off his mask, Reeve stated that, "That was the first time he laughed since the accident!"


Christopher Reeve and Robin Williams in 1997. Photo / Getty Images

• When Blame Canada, a song from South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999), was nominated for a Best Song Academy Award, it was Williams who performed the song at the ceremony because the actress who sang the song in the film, Mary Kay Bergman, had taken her own life a few months before the awards show.

• He was a very overweight child. As a result, nobody would play with him. He started talking in different voices to entertain himself.

• Most of his dialogue in Aladdin (1992) is ad libbed.

• Williams co-owned the Rubicon restaurant in San Francisco with Robert De Niro and fellow Bay area resident Francis Ford Coppola.

• He wrote the foreword to Gary Larson's 1993 book, The Far Side: Gallery 4.

• After a 20-year break from doing stand-up comedy, he came back with a show live on Broadway in 2002. It won a Grammy Award for best spoken word album in 2003.

• He has lent his voice to only six animated features: FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992), Aladdin (1992), Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996), Robots (2005), Happy Feet (2006) and Happy Feet Two (2011).


Robin Williams is recognized by Bob Iger, CEO of Walt Disney Co., and Mickey Mouse for Williams' work in 'Aladdin,' 'Good Morning, Vietnam' and 'Dead Poets Society'. Photo / Getty Images

• Invented the curse word "Shazbot", first heard on the situation comedy Mork & Mindy (1978) (in which Mork says the expression during the opening credits). Later, it was used in an episode of The Simpsons (1989) (Treehouse of Horror VI) with the Production Code 3F04, which aired on October 20 1995. In 1998, it was used as a voice chat option in the very popular Starsiege Tribes game and was carried over into the sequels Tribes 2 and Tribes: Vengeance. Incidentally, "shazbot, nano nano" also remain the last recorded words of the former singer of AC/DC Bon Scott (1946-1980), still available on the album Highway to Hell.

• Williams and Robert De Niro were the last stars to see John Belushi alive, albeit on separate visits to Bungalow #3 of the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles that fateful day in March 1982 when he died of a drug overdose.

• Asked by James Lipton about what he would like God to say when he arrives in heaven, Williams answered that "There is a seat in the front" in the concert of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Elvis Presley.

• He and his former wife frequently visited Australia during their holidays.

Photos: The life and times of actor Robin Williams

• Was frequently called up by Steven Spielberg when he was filming Schindler's List (1993). He would put him on speaker phone so he could tell jokes to the cast and crew to cheer them up. He used his character in Aladdin (1992) most of the time.

• During the course of recording the voice of Genie in Aladdin (1992), Robin improvised so much they had almost 16 hours of material. He also ad libbed so many of his lines that the movie's script was turned down for a Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award nomination.

• Has appeared fully nude in The Fisher King (1991) and World's Greatest Dad (2009).

• Became a vegetarian following his open heart surgery.

• His great friend, Scottish comedian Billy Connolly, refers to Robin's hairy arms as Quest for Fire opera gloves.

• He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6925 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on December 12, 1990.

• As of 2014, has appeared in three films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: Dead Poets Society (1989), Awakenings (1990) and Good Will Hunting (1997).

- AAP

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