Tribute: Robin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014)

The Real Life Poet in Dead Poet’s Society


As we grieve for the loss of a man considered by many to be a national treasure, let’s explore the qualities of personality that made Robin the man, as well as the performer, we loved and adored.

It may surprise you, but we think Robin was a turtle (introverted type). [Review Personality Traits] He described himself as a quiet and shy child who did not overcome his shyness until he became involved with his high school drama department—where he could act like a puppy. As a boy, his primary audience was his mother—whom he credited as being an important early influence for his sense of humor—rather than his classmates. As a young boy, Robin tried to make his mom laugh to gain attention. Robin is quoted as saying, “I basically started performing for my mother, going, ‘Love me!’ What drives you to perform is the need for that primal connection. When I was little, my mother was funny with me, and I started to be charming and funny for her, and I learned that by being entertaining, you make a connection with another person.”

He was also a man guided by deeply held internal values. He credited his father for giving him the self-confidence to never be afraid of talking about subjects that were important to him.

Robin exhibited the behaviors of a psychic (intuitive type). The entire world recognized him as a creative genius filled with seemingly endless imagination. It seemed like his mouth was directly wired to his subconscious mind. At Julliard, Robin and Christopher Reeve had a class in dialects taught by one of the world’s leading voice and speech teachers. The instructor had no idea what to make of Williams, who could instantly perform in any dialect, including Scottish, Irish, English, Russian, Italian, and many others.

Another of his teachers at Juilliard said Robin was a genius, who was not well served by the school’s conservative and classical style of training. Robin left Julliard during his junior year at the suggestion of his instructor John Houseman, who said there was nothing more Juilliard could teach him.

Robin was more of a dreamer than a realist. He believed that words and ideas could change the world. “Reality: What a concept!”

Robin was a bleeding heart (feeling type) through and through. He cared deeply about others and this showed in his personal life and the fictional characters he portrayed. We just wanted to give him a hug whenever we saw him. In 1986, Robin teamed up with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal to found Comic Relief USA, an annual HBO television benefit devoted to the homeless. Robin and his second wife, Marsha, founded the Windfall Foundation, a philanthropic organization to raise money for other charities. In response to the 2010 Canterbury earthquake, Robin donated the proceeds of his “Weapons of Self Destruction” Christchurch performance to help rebuild the New Zealand city. Robin performed with the USO for U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. When his friend and former classmate Christopher Reeve’s medical insurance ran out, Robin paid many of his bills. Following the 2006 death of Reeve’s widow, Robin provided practical and financial support for the couple’s 14-year-old son.

No question, Robin was a hippie (perceiving type). In fact, he was the personification of the hippie preference—playful, spontaneous, open-minded, accepting, flexible, and adaptable. He wore tie-dyed shirts!

A bleeding-hearted, psychic, hippie turtle is a Poet (INFP). Poets frequently have a natural gift for language, such as Robin’s ability to instantly perform in any dialect.  Robin will be remembered as one of the greatest improvisational comedians ever, a performer who was never at a loss for words.  Thinking of Robin as a poet brings to our mind one of his unforgettable roles as a screen actor. He was nominated for three Academy Awards and won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a psychologist in Good Will Hunting. But to us, Robin will always be remembered as the English teacher and real life poet in in Dead Poet’s Society. Robin thought Dead Poets was probably my favorite—“just to get started with the idea of doing a movie that people treated as more than a movie.”

Bye Robin, we will miss you, O Captain! My Captain!

Our personality quiz and educational materials are based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types and the research of Isabel Myers (creator of the Myers-Briggs), David Keirsey, and Paul and Barbara Tieger, and others.

Disclaimer: 2bme has no affiliation with the Myers & Briggs Foundation or its affiliate, Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc., and we do not administer the MBTI® instrument or the Myers-Briggs® assessment.

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