He moved seamlessly from comedy to drama to tragedy to comedy again during a Hollywood heyday in the 1980s and 1990s. His Academy Award as a supporting actor in "Good Will Hunting" came in a drama.
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Prof. Robert Thompson,
Syracuse University's TV and Pop Culture Expert
In 1997, Entertainment Weekly magazine named Williams the funniest man alive, and the very next year listed him as one of the world's 25 best actors - a double distinction that made him rare, if not unique.
From 1981, the first episode of "Mork and Mindy"
Mork from Ork. Nanu, nanu. What more need be said? This TV series, a spinoff of "Happy Days," is how many of us first learned of Williams' sublime nuttiness.
The official trailer for 1987's "Good Morning Vietnam"
Williams' fast-talking style was perfect for the role of a DJ on Armed Forces Radio during the Vietnam War. (First Oscar nomination.)
from 1984's Moscow on The Hudson
Williams played a Russian - and quite credibly, too - in this film about a comically lovable circus saxophonist, Vladimir, who defects while touring New York (turning himself in at Bloomingdale's, naturally.)
From Disney's "Aladdin" in 1992
Will it ever be possible to see a cartoon genie and not think of Williams? Remember him shooting out of that bottle: "Ten thousand years will give you SUCH a crick in the neck!"
From "Dead Poet's Society" in 1989
Played an unconventional poetry teacher who taught his Vermont boarding school students to stand on their desks, think on their own, and "seize the day." (Second Oscar nomination.)
from "Mrs. Doubtfire" 1993
Who couldn't love a bumbling dad who dressed up as a portly nanny - with a latex mask, a wig and a Scottish accent - in order to spend time with his young kids? (A sequel was in the works.)
from "Good WIll Hunting" in 1997
A rare but welcome serious role for Williams, who played the stubborn yet empathetic therapist who was somehow able to help math prodigy Will Hunting (Matt Damon) figure out how to handle his life. Won a supporting actor Oscar.
from "Hook" in 1992
Trailer for 2002's "One Hour Photo"
Another serious role, and it was a creepy one: Williams played a photo counter worker at a huge suburban store who got a little too involved in the lives of his customers when he realized one of them was having an affair.
In "The Birdcage", 1995
In the forthcoming "Night at the Museum 3"