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My Robin Williams anecdote

14 August, 2014

Following this week’s tragic news, I thought I would share my Robin Williams anecdote with you. I had an idea I had already told you this but I searched my whole blog and can’t find it, so here it is again. A quick warning – Robin Williams isn’t in it as such, but he is in it.


I was on a transatlantic flight in 1999, travelling alone. It was way back before seatback film choices, this was the day of the screen at the front of the cabin and everyone watched what was on. A bit like telly used to be before the internet and i-player and youtube and so on. Anyway, one of the films that Iberia chose to show was Flubber. I hadn’t seen it and hadn’t heard good things about it so I uneared my headphones and closed my eyes for a nap.

A little while later, I was awoken by a man laughing. A rounded, happy laugh that made me smile. Flubber was still showing, and the man was enjoying it. He laughed some more, he kept laughing, he kept getting louder, my smile grew. I looked round to see him in the centre seat group, halfway back, face beaming, mouth wide open in delighted laughter. I couldn’t help but snigger a little, the laugh was so contagious. And as my eyes scanned the plane, I saw that everyone else was smirking too. The man laughed again, and his laugh rippled through everyone else. Most people were watching the film, but everyone was listening to this man and those with travelling companions were nudging each other and nodding towards him.

As the film went on, he kept laughing, I’ve never heard one person enjoy a film so much, and every time he did, the rest of the plane laughed too. Not at the film, not AT the man, but with him. Or rather, because of him and his infectious laugh. I often wonder if he knew the wonderful effect he was having on the rest of us, whenever I glanced back he was absorbed in the film, thoroughly and delightedly enjoying it. Laughter is infectious, and the whole plane had caught this man’s bug.


So I have never met Robin Williams, never known anyone who has, and in honesty my favourite films of his are Insomnia and One Hour Photo. Both far from comedies but exquisitely acted. But my over-riding memory of him is the joy his performance in Flubber brought, via one man’s loud and joyous laugh, to a planeload of travellers.



From → Blogging, My Head

  1. I love moments like that… its what life is about, huh?

  2. Oddly enough, One Hour Photo and Insomnia are my 2 favorite Robin Williams films as well.
    But yes, he had that way about him that would make people laugh, and as the gentleman on your plane ride showed, laughter is contagious, and the loss of Robin Williams hit me harder than any other celebrity death. It’s going to be weird to see the 3 movies slated to come out posthumously, one of which is a Christmas movie.
    I don’t know if you saw The Crazy Ones, the sitcom with Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Geller as his daughter; as someone said over at Whedonesque, it was wonderful to see Buffy finally get the Father she deserved, she and Robin played so well together.
    Such a sad loss.

  3. Robin Williams brought joy and laughter to many of us. This is a great anecdote. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on an amazing man.

  4. For me it is not his films that really stay with me although I have enjoyed almost all of them, it was the dorky alien sitting in an egg saying nanu nanu that will be the lasting memory that overrides the others, Mork and Mindy was a part of my childhood and also taught me a very important lesson, if you take the time to stop and observe you can see so much more in every day life that others are too busy to notice.

  5. Love this story.

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