Robin Williams possessed the kind of frenetic magnetism that dared you to look away. For me, it wasn’t possible. The actor/comedian’s larger-than-life persona was tailor-made for a movie screen.
On March 22, 2006, enormous video screens in a Las Vegas Hilton ballroom sufficed in showcasing Williams’ broad grin and sparkling eyes, his comedic talent and his humanitarianism. The BASH for Augie’s Quest, an inaugural fundraising event to benefit ALS research launched by fitness icon Augie Nieto, featured in-person appearances by Bob Saget, Lance Armstrong and The Doobie Brothers. Williams appeared via recorded message, managing to transcend the medium and distance with his humor and warmth. I got the impression it was all improv — one take, no notes — and it was brilliant.
We share this brief excerpt from that video appearance a day removed from the shocking news that Williams likely ended his own life Monday. Some disabilities, including those brought on by ALS, are quite visible; others, like Williams’ severe depression, not so much.
Meanwhile, Augie’s Quest marches on, as does Augie himself. There have been eight BASHes since that first one, when Williams — while not live and in person — was more alive than any of us in that ballroom. I personally couldn’t take my eyes off him.