Robin Williams is not only well remembered for his contribution to the world of comedy, but also for his contributions to mankind as whole. As well as an amazingly talented actor, he was a staunch philanthropist, supporting women’s rights, veterans and helping the homeless.
Since his sad death last year, the world has pulled together to remember some of the many great things the star did during his lifetime, both personally and professionally. One such kind act that recently came to light is this letter he wrote to the headmaster of his Miss Doubtfire co-star Lisa Jakub. Dated July 1st 1993, William’s contacted the school after then 14-year-old Jakub’s was expelled for taking time off to work on the film.
Jakub’s initially shared the note on her blog the day William’s died. Although she was not allowed back into school, she was grateful that he stood up for her.
In her post honouring him she wrote:
“Robin Williams died today.
It seems surreal to write that.
But since writing is the way I process the incomprehensible — I find myself writing.
Everyone is tweeting and facebooking and calling into radio shows about what a great talent Robin was.
Yeah. He was. But that wasn’t what I adored about him. It was the fact that he was an incredibly kind human being.
When I was 14 years old, I went on location to film Mrs. Doubtfire for five months, and my high school was not happy. My job meant an increased workload for teachers, and they were not equipped to handle a “non-traditional” student. So, during filming, they kicked me out.
It’s devastating, at 14, to have your formal education terminated. I felt like a freak and a reject. When I arrived at work the next day, Robin noticed that I was upset and asked me what was wrong. I explained what had happened, and the next day, he handed me a letter that he wrote to my school. He explained that I was just trying to continue my education while pursuing my career. He wrote embarrassingly kind things about my character and my work, and requested that they reconsider and allow me to return to my classes.
When I told him I still didn’t think they would take me back, he said, “It’s kinda like Amnesty International. That school just needs to know that people know the truth.”
The school framed the letter. They hung it in the principal’s office. But they didn’t invite me to return to school.
But here’s what matters from that story. Robin stood up for me. He was in my corner. I was only 14, but I had already seen that I was in an industry that was full of back-stabbing. And it was entirely clear that Robin had my back.
I know I said thank you at the time and I’m sure I wrote one of those stiff thank you notes that 14-year-olds write with slanting lines and spelling mistakes. But that all seems so insufficient now.
Even though I had not spoken with Robin in a very long time, I always assumed there would be some future opportunity to tell him that his letter changed my life. It taught me that you stand up for the things that matter. And even if your attempts fail, you tried. You told the truth. You took care of your friends. You fought back.
None of us really know what fights Robin was battling, but I know his struggles were not uncommon. It’s estimated that 16 million people in the US have struggled with depression – and I include myself in that statistic. It’s real and it’s not shameful and there is help available.
You can bring it to the light, you can tell the truth, you can go to a meeting, you can reach out to a friend.
None of us are alone.
And if you have someone in your life who you are grateful for — someone to whom you want to write another heartfelt, slanted, misspelled thank you note – do it. Tell them they made you feel loved and supported. That they made you feel like you belonged somewhere and that you were not a freak.
Tell them all of that.
Tell them today.”
Sob. We miss you Robin!