On August 11, 2014, the world lost an iconic entertainer and an incredibly generous man who was a true friend to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Robin Williams brought smiles and joy to St. Jude patients, just as he brought laughter to fans worldwide who watched him in his many comedic roles on television and in movies.
Williams was a celebrity supporter of St. Jude for a decade, freely offering his time and talent in TV commercials with St. Jude patients such as Darcy Cassidy, who was filmed with Williams in 2013.
“He was funny and nice,” says Darcy, 10, who has been fighting a rare brain tumor at St. Jude since 2009.
Darcy’s mother, who met Williams the day of the filming, described the actor as humble. “He was compassionate. He really cared,” she says. “He made us feel like we were the superstars.”
Williams showed his support for St. Jude through his participation in many celebrity events, including the Shower of Stars, a star-studded event in 2003 that was hosted in Memphis by Marlo Thomas, Terre Thomas and Tony Thomas, the children of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas.
The actor was also connected to the St. Jude family through his work with Tom Shadyac, the brother of Richard Shadyac Jr., who is president and chief executive officer of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude. Tom Shadyac, a movie director and producer, worked with Williams when he directed him in the title role of the 1998 movie Patch Adams.
Williams’ commitment to St. Jude is shared by his daughter, actress Zelda Williams, a well-known gamer who this year helped launch a new videogame charity program for St. Jude called St. Jude PLAY LIVE.
The legendary humor and gentle nature that characterized Robin Williams was evident in his work with St. Jude, just as in some of his best-loved roles in movies and TV.
St. Jude National Outreach Director Marlo Thomas remembers Williams as an exceptional man and a comic genius whose generosity and dedication to the children of St. Jude were always apparent.
“He was the genuine article,” she says. “The adoration he felt for the precious, brave children of St. Jude was only matched by the enchantment they felt for him in return.”
Abridged from Promise, Autumn 2014