15 Surprising Facts About Robin Williams That Not Many People Know

Morning Tower / KPCC

I'm not a very emotional person, but I broke down after hearing that my favorite actor and comedian, Robin Williams, committed suicide.

I grew up watching Mork & Mindy. When I was having a bad day, I'd just watch reruns of that show to cheer me up.

I still own almost every single one of his movies. I'm particularly obsessed with his characters in Dead Poet's Society, Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook, and Good Will Hunting.

While we know how great of an actor and comedian he is, most of us don't know about his upbringing and the things he did when the cameras stopped rolling.

Keep your tissues close, #15 will definitely bring tears to your eyes!

1. He was voted "Least Likely To Succeed"

Robin graduated from Redwood High School in Larkspur, California in 1969. While you'd think he would be that funny kid that everyone loves, he actually wasn't.

He was voted by his classmates to be the "least likely to succeed."

That "award" must have been given on opposite day, because Robin is still one of the most beloved celebrities in the world!

2. He was an outsider

It's hard to imagine that this cute bundle of joy was bullied when he was a kid. According to the late comedian, he was overweight as a child, and nobody would play with him.

He spent most of his childhood alone, entertaining himself by talking in different voices.

On the bright side, he perfected his craft at a young age, which ultimately led to his successful career.

3. He invented a curse word

Robin was well-known for improvising even when the cameras were rolling. His skills were so good that the production crew didn't even bother to record those scenes again.

During one of the opening credits of Mork & Mindy, Robin came up with the word "Shazbot." It's supposedly an alien curse word, and you've probably heard it before without knowing that Robin made it up!

The word was used in other hit shows like The Simpsons, the Tribes series of videogames, and is reportedly the last recorded words of AC/DC singer Bon Scott.

4. He worked as a mime

Like most kids who don't have much social interaction, Robin was very shy. He revealed that it was acting in his high school drama classes that helped him gain more confidence.

It all happened slowly, though. Before his big break, he would perform on the streets of New York City as a mime to make money.

5. He was rejected for a role for being "too psychotic"

It doesn't get anymore creepy and "psychotic" than The Shining, a 1980 horror film that's based on a Stephen King novel.

Robin was going to play the lead role of Jack Torrance, but the role was given to Jack Nicholson instead.

Apparently, director Stanley Kubrick thought Robin was "too psychotic" after seeing his character on Mork & Mindy.

These next Robin Williams facts will warm your heart...

6. His friendship with Christopher Reeve

The former Superman actor who was paralyzed from neck down after getting into a horse-riding accident was one of Robin's closest friends.

When Christopher was in the hospital, he only felt utter despair. He was told he would never walk again, and that his acting career was ruined.

Robin was heartbroken to see his dear friend this way, so he would pretend to be a crazy Russian proctologist performing a rectal exam on him to make him laugh. It worked! It was the first time Christopher laughed following his accident.

7. The real reason he voiced the Genie in Aladdin

The 1992 Disney classic film, Aladdin, raked in $504 million worldwide, but Robin received only $75,000 for his role as the Genie.

He recorded more than 30 hours of audio for the film, and agreed to a pay cut if Disney agreed to not use his voice to sell merchandise.

"I'm doing it basically because I want to be part of this animation tradition. I want something for my children. One deal is, I just don't want to sell anything "” as in Burger King, as in toys, as in stuff," he told New York Magazine.

8. His friendship with Koko

robin and koko
Wide Open Spaces

Robin not only has the ability to warm the hearts of people, he has a way with animals too.

Robin was invited to meet Koko, the most intelligent gorilla in the world, who can understand English and is fluent in American sign language, at the San Francisco Zoo in 2001.

What most people don't know about their encounter was that Koko was in a state of depression after learning about the death of one of her close friends.

"What happened when Robin visited is that Koko was actually in mourning for her lifetime companion Michael and it was Robin who brought her out of it," Koko's trainer, Penny Patterson, told Entertainment Tonight. "The first time she smiled since Michael passed was when Robin and her met."

9. He always gave great advice

Robin was hilarious, but not everything he said was silly. Even his jokes had a nugget of wisdom.

During Robin's last tour for U.S. troops, Rear Admiral John Kirby asked him what advice he would give his son who was turning 18 at the time.

Robin told him: "Follow your heart. The head is sometimes wrong."

10. Entertaining our troops

Although Robin was anti-war, he was loved by the U.S. military. According to Time, he made six USO tours to 13 countries and performed for a total of 90,000 troops.

Robin was sympathetic and understood the negative effects war has on the mental state of troops. He even went out of his way to perform for the select few who missed his show.

"Robin was always the last entertainer to leave. In Iraq, a group of Marines came in from patrol and missed his show. He made it a point to meet with them and give them 20 minutes of fun, even as the chopper's blades were turning to go to the next show," wrote Jim Garamone, a writer for the Pentagon's internal news service.

These next Robin Williams facts are quite surprising...

11. He gave someone a hernia

Robin once made an audience member laugh so hard that they got a hernia. This usually happens somewhere in the abdomen region, like the intestines, when an organ slightly pops out of place.

It's not his fault that he's a great comedian! If you're wondering about the audience member, he's okay. I'm sure the hernia was worth it.

12. He owned a vineyard

Robin's Napa Valley Estate sold for a whopping $18.1 million! According to CNN Money, the property is 20,000 square feet with five bedrooms, six full baths along with five half baths. It also includes a 65-foot infinity pool, horse stables, a guest house and tennis courts.

The vineyards span 19 acres, but it does not include a winery.

It seems out of character for Robin to have owned a wine estate, but he has joked about it in the past. He said, "it's like Ghandi owning a delicatessen."

13. He loved cycling

Robin loved cycling so much that he actually trained with Lance Armstrong.

When asked by The Wall Street Journal why he loved biking, he answered, "It was the closest you can get to flying."

After his death, more than 80 of his bikes were sold and the money was donated to his favorite charities.

14. A true philanthropist

I would have to dedicate a whole article talking about Robin's devotion to bettering the world, but I'll sum it up as best as I can.  

He supported more than 25 charities throughout his lifetime, including St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Dream Foundation, and Save the Children.

He raised money for all sorts of causes pertaining to human rights, diseases, unemployment, homelessness, and education.

He truly had a big heart!

15. His last words

It wasn't until three years after Robin's death that his wife, Susan Schneider, opened up about his final words.

"I was getting in bed and he came in the room a couple of times and he said, "˜Goodnight, my love,'" Susan recalled.

"And then, he came back again. He came out with his iPad, and he looked like he had something to do. And that was like, "˜I think he's getting better.' And then he said "˜goodnight, goodnight.' That was the last."

Rest in peace Robin. Your legacy will never be forgotten.

Moojan has been a writer at Shared for a year. When she's not on the lookout for viral content, she's looking at cute animal photos. Reach her at moojan@shared.com.