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My strongest memory of Robin Williams isn’t a film or TV role (though there are dozens of those); it was seeing him improvise live on television.

I was 12 years old and Williams had just exploded on the scene with Mork and Mindy. He was a guest on The Don Lane Show, and you could tell that neither the host nor the studio audience – nor I, for that matter – had ever seen anything like him.

When Williams came out, Lane gave him the floor and challenged him to make jokes up on the spot. Williams proceeded to walk around the set, riffing off every prop and piece of furniture. (Alas, the only thing I recall is when he gestured to a pointy sculpture and quipped, “Cleopatra told Caesar, “Not tonight babe. I’ve got my pyramid.'”)

I remember being amazed at his ability to create comedy out of seemingly nothing. Little did I know the man in the rainbow suspenders would go on to become one of the most successful actors on the planet.

For all the laughter (and the tears), thank you.

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