A Year Without Robin Williams

Has it really been a year since Robin Williams died? Somehow the world spun on without Williams' special brand of comic genius in it.

But what has happened since Williams killed himself, sending a tidal wave of shock and grief around the world?

At age 63, after a lifetime dealing with addictions and depression plus a new diagnosis of Parkinson's, Williams hanged himself in his home in Tiburon, Calif., north of his hometown of San Francisco, on Aug. 11, 2014.

A year later, his estate is slowly being settled, as his widow and children work out their remaining differences following court hearings in San Francisco.

He was honored with a special Emmy salute by his close pal Billy Crystal. At the World Series featuring his beloved San Francisco Giants, his kids and Crystal participated in an emotional tribute at the start of Game 5. The bench in Boston's Public Garden where he filmed scenes for his Oscar-winning role in Good Will Hunting has become a visitor destination. California even renamed the Waldo "Rainbow" Tunnel in Marin County near his home the Robin Williams Tunnel.

Williams' potentially most far-reaching impact on American culture remains just that: Potential. When a beloved and world-famous star kills himself, it brings new attention to suicide and mental-health disorders and how to effectively treat them.

Williams' death "opened a national conversation about suicide and suicide prevention," says Jeffrey Borenstein, a psychiatrist who is CEO and president of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation in New York. "People are now more aware that they or their loved ones should seek treatment for depression and other psychiatric conditions."

Still, the problem is too challenging to fix in just one year, and in the interim there's been a plethora of other shocking events, such as mass murders and shootings, associated with mentally ill assailants.

A friend's tribute

Two weeks after Williams' death, Billy Crystal delivered an emotional tribute to his longtime friend. "I think it's the hardest thing I've ever had to do," he later told Matt Lauer. "They asked me if I would do it and I said, 'Of course.' But then came the task of doing it right — and being the spokesman for everybody in front of 17 million people. He's my closest friend, and to do it with some humor and only in the short period of time that I had to do it was…difficult."

 

A red carpet goodbye

Robin Williams' widow, Susan Schneider, made her first public appearance at theDecember premiere of of Night at the Museum 3 in New York, thanks to a personal invitation from director Shawn Levy. "I called to connect with her," Levy told USA TODAY. "We don't know each other that well, but I feel connected to her," says Levy. "I cannot begin to fathom what she has endured."

Schneider did not talk to press, but smiled and waved to fans who showed up to support her husband's last comic role. Williams had just completed final sound work on the film when he died in August. The actor had starring roles as Teddy Roosevelt in all three Night at the Museum films.

His children are 'still grieving'

In February, Zelda, 25, opened up about her father for the first time on the Today show.

"He was incredibly kind and incredibly caring man," she said. "And he was also very private and very calm and very subdued. So the side of him that people know and love and attach to their childhood is the characters he had so much fun being. And that's what's important and that's not going anywhere."

Does she ask "why" the tragic dead happened?

"I don't think there's a point," she said, shaking her head. "It's not important to ask because it's (done)."

Last month, Williams' eldest son Zak, 32 told People he and siblings, Zelda, Cody, 23, are trying their best to celebrate their father's life and to honor him in whatever ways they can. "We're still grieving," says Zak, adding that they "try to focus on the joyful moments and memories."

Just two weeks ago, in advance of her father's birthday and the anniversary of his death, Zelda took a break from social media.

"It's a time better served away from the opinions or sentiments of others, and I appreciate your understanding. In my absence, I understand there will be those who wish to leave messages regarding Dad on my board, but please attempt to be respectful and kind to one another in the process, both because I will not be here to delete or mediate trolling, and because kindness is in short supply these days anyhow. Thanks guys."

Williams' last movie opened

Boulevard opened on July 17, an art-house drama about a married man coming to terms with his sexuality, marking the last dramatic film of Williams' distinguished career. (The actor's final role is as the voice of a dog in the upcoming sci-fi comedy Absolutely Anything.) Williams' suicide last August at age 63 came just months after Boulevardpremiered at Tribeca Film Festival, and distributor Starz held off the film's release.

Before and during the 30-day shoot in June 2013, Williams pored over details of the confined character, director Dito Montiel told USA TODAY. Rather than take dinner breaks during the night shoots, Williams often preferred to take walks around Nashville with Montiel, discussing upcoming scenes. "He just cared so much about it. He was talking about every single nuance of the role," says Montiel. "For this Oscar winner to care so much about this little movie, obsessing about it at 3 a.m. on Day 23 like he did, that was pretty special."


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