Robin Williams

Robin Williams

Celebrated comedian and Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams found his footing at College of Marin.

Williams was studying political science at Claremont College, but he left the Southern California campus to enroll at College of Marin, near his parents’ home in the Bay Area town of Larkspur, and follow his true passion.

At College of Marin, Williams studied as a classical actor and had parts in several Shakespeare plays under the direction of legendary drama professor James Dunn.  According to Dunn, the depth of Williams' talent first became evident when he was cast in the musical “Oliver!” as Fagin. The young student riffed on stage one night, bringing classmates to tears of laughter. Dunn woke up his wife when he got home. “You will not have believed what I have just seen,” he told her. “This young man is going to be somebody one day.”

Williams studied for three years at College of Marin before leaving for the Juilliard School in New York, where he won a full scholarship and studied under John Houseman.

From Juilliard, Williams returned to California to perform standup on the club circuit. His first real break came after an appearance at L.A.'s Comedy Store, which led to a regular gig on the short-lived, late-1970s reincarnation of “Laugh-In.” From there, Williams was cast as a crazy space alien on an episode of “Happy Days.” That led to Williams’ own sitcom, “Mork and Mindy,” in 1978.

Movie roles flowed in starting with “Popeye” in 1980 and “The World According to Garp” in 1982. But it wasn't until “Good Morning, Vietnam” that Williams scored a critical and box office hit and earned him a best actor nomination in the 1988 Academy Awards.

More box office hits included “Dead Poets Society,” “Aladdin,” “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Jumanji.” “Good Will Hunting” earned him an Academy Award for best supporting actor in 1998.

Williams never forgot his roots. He raised funds and provided scholarships for College of Marin, and he once participated in the drama department's around-the-clock reading of Shakespeare’s complete works.