I wish I could share a bunch of meetings with Williams, but I really only had one.
It was an interview before one of his stand-up shows in San Diego. There was a crowd of about 20 waiting for him before he went inside that afternoon. He looked sad as he carried a suit over his shoulder. Yet he signed for everyone, and posed for pictures.
Even though I was doing the interview with him later, I thought I’d jump on the autograph at that moment. You never know with celebrities. They could be signing one minute, and an hour later, they’re “not in the mood.” Yet with Williams, that was rarely the case. I never, ever heard of him turning down anybody for an autograph.
I had him sign the box of my video for The World According to Garp, my all-time favorite movie. I had Amanda Plummer sign it when she was doing a play in town (her part in the film was small). John Lithgow signed it, and was rather pleasant. That was a relief, because he’s turned down autograph seekers over the years. He said, “Oh wow, you have other signatures on here.”
I’m still waiting to get author John Irving and Oscar nominee Glenn Close to sign it.
I remembered a studio had sent me a press packet for Death to Smoochie, and since I had a photo from that, after the interview I asked him to sign it. We joked about that movie tanking.
At one time I had a signed 8x10 from Mrs. Doubtfire. I got it from a friend that met him at a movie screening. Yet when a childhood friend was dating a woman whose favorite actor/comedian was Robin Williams – I told him he could give her the picture. She was thrilled. Little did I know…he was a nutjob. He’d show up at my house with accusations. One time he said, “Why were you so quick to give my girlfriend an autographed photo of Robin Williams? You collect autographs. Is it because you’re trying to sleep with her?”
I laughed and said, “Wouldn’t I have then given her the picture myself? Instead, I gave it to you…telling you that you could give it to her.”
When she broke up with him, he started following me around, convinced that she was seeing me. Smartly, she got a restraining order against him.
I guess that story is off the subject a bit. Anyway, when Autograph Magazine used to be something you could pick up in newsstands, I did stories about the best/worst celebrities at signing autographs. If memory serves, Williams made the list of “best” celebs. It seems usually comedians are good about autographs, but for anybody that saw the documentary Comedian…we saw Jerry Seinfeld snap at an employee of a comedy club that wanted a photo. Sure, it was right before Seinfeld went onstage, but still. Williams would’ve never done that. I think Williams would’ve grabbed the guy, took the photo, and started making jokes. He’d use the energy and interactions to improve his performance on stage.
He’s going to be missed. He was a big influence on the world of comedy. Luckily, we still have his comedy specials, as well as a few amazing movies in his large list. For many lucky autograph collectors, they have a signature, as well as a humorous story to share with their friends.