Opinion

The Great Debate

Robin Williams: Appreciations of his talent, his work and his life

File photo of actor Williams arriving at premiere of "World's Greatest Dad" during Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah

Robin Williams, the 63-year-old comedian and Oscar-winning actor who died Monday in an apparent suicide at his home in Northern California was rare. Not just in his talent, his success, or his fame or fortune, but in how universally he was loved by the public.

Since he leapt to the world’s (not just America’s) attention in the late 1970s, he never disappeared from the public eye for long. We all knew that he’d struggled with drugs and depression. At least we could have known if we were interested. His battles were out there, on the record.

Today, though, many writers are choosing to remember him for his work and the joy he brought.

Longtime Los Angeles Times movie critic Kenneth Turan first met Robin Williams in 1978, while Mork & Mindy was being filmed, but before it hit the air. It was after one of Williams’ standup performances. Turan says he knew he was seeing something special: “He took on different characters with different accents, roamed to all kinds of locations, both physical and metaphysical, made lightning-fast comic connections in time and space that were at once hysterically funny and like nothing I had ever experienced before.”

Tony Hicks of the Contra Costa Times captures the essence of watching one of Williams’ standup performances in a single sentence: “Riffing on words and ideas, leaping with lightning speed from thought to idea to rant to epiphany, there wasn’t a faster brain on the planet.”

from Breakingviews:

Memo to Wall Street: more Ace Greenberg please

By Antony Currie

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Wall Street needs more leaders like Alan “Ace” Greenberg. The onetime Bear Stearns boss, famed for his pithy missives to staff, died on Friday. He was 86. Though he was no longer in charge, the firm’s 2008 collapse is a notable blemish on an otherwise illustrious career. The industry could use more of Greenberg’s scrappy PSD: poor, smart and driven.

The shorthand was how he described the people he wanted to work for Bear, perhaps in his own image. Even after he became chief executive in 1978, and until 1993, his office was the trading floor not the executive suite. And unlike most bosses, he answered his own calls. Greenberg also believed in sharing at least some of the wealth, insisting that his senior managing directors donate at least 4 percent of their income to charity.

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