Robin Williams Silently Donated Show Proceeds and Raised $50k for Food Bank a Few Years Before Death

Edduin Carvajal
Dec 21, 2021
10:20 A.M.
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"Mork & Mindy" star Robin Williams was deeply involved in charity work and donated show proceeds for food banks. Instead of asking for recognition, he kept it a secret.  

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Robin Williams won over audiences with outstanding performances in "Good Will Hunting" and "Patch Adams," but he became one of the most beloved Hollywood stars for his charity work.

Unfortunately, he dealt with depression for years and was misdiagnosed with Parkinson's disease. His wife and children are keeping his memory alive.

Robin Williams on April 27, 2006 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

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LEWY BODY DISEASE, NOT PARKINSON

On August 11, 2014, the news about Williams's death shocked the world, especially when the details of his passing made it to the internet. People couldn't understand how such a cheerful person could have died by suicide. 

His widow, Susan Schneider, confessed he had been dealing with severe depression for years and was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease shortly before ending his life at 63.

Robin Williams on October 14, 2004 in Burbank, California | Photo: Getty Images

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Schneider explained that Williams seemed "ok" the night before his passing. He left the main bedroom around 10:30 pm with his iPad, and she assumed it was a sign that he was in a good mood because he had not read or watched TV in six months.

The following day, Schneider left the house and believed Williams was still sleeping in his stepson's bedroom (the couple slept in separate rooms because he couldn't sleep properly and was "restless" due to his anxiety and disease).

Robin Williams on September 11, 2005 in New York | Photo: Getty Images

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At 11:45 am, Williams's assistant was worried and tried to contact the actor to no avail. He then picked the lock and found Williams's lifeless body. Schneider pointed out that her husband never expressed suicidal thoughts.

Three months after his passing, an autopsy showed that he had Lewy body dementia rather than Parkinson's disease. Lewy bodies are clumps of substances located within brain cells. 

Years after Williams passed away, his daughter with Marsha Garces, Zelda, followed in his footsteps.

Robin Williams and his son, Zak, on April 28, 2012 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

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Zak, Williams's son with his first wife Valeria Velardi, confessed that his father went through a period of "intense searching and frustration" after being diagnosed with Parkinson's.

What the actor experienced didn't wholly match other patients with Parkinson's, so Williams was frustrated. Zak added

"At least from my lens, what I found was someone who was having challenges performing his craft. And that was really irritating for him."

Robin Williams on January 7, 2009 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images

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SILENT MONEY DONATIONS

Following Williams's death, people started telling stories about him and his big heart. West Seattle Food Bank executive director Fran Yeatts revealed Williams raised money for the organization without making a media circus. 

In 2004, Williams had a stand-up comedy show at the Showbox nightclub in Seattle and donated all the proceeds to the food bank without telling anyone.

Robin Williams on November 14, 2006 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

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Williams did the same in 2007 and 2008 when the financial crisis was at its peak. He raised almost $50,000 for the organization and never asked for recognition. Yeatts admitted the actor understood that several people were struggling.

His story taught others, like food bank volunteer Bill Bacon (who is dealing with bipolar disorder), that they could still aspire to great things despite their problems.

Robin Williams on March 31, 2011 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images

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Years after Williams passed away, his daughter with Marsha Garces, Zelda, followed in his footsteps by donating money to different organizations. 

On what would have been the actor's 69th birthday, Zelda promised to donate $69.69 to homeless shelters in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Her initiative inspired other people to do the same.

Twitter users uploaded photos of their $69.69 donations and pointed out that Williams brought them laughs, so they wanted to contribute, too.

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WILLIAMS'S CHARITY WORK

Williams spent most of his life giving back. He was one of the celebrity speakers for the "America: A Tribute to Heroes" charity telethon for victims of 9/11 in 2001.

In 2008, he performed at the We are Amused comedy night to benefit Prince's Trust. He also visited Iraq, Afghanistan, and a few other countries in the Middle East with the USO to help raise morale among the troops.

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Apart from funding the Robin Williams Scholarship at Juilliard (his alma mater), he gave all the proceeds from his New Zealand shows to victims of an earthquake in Christchurch.

Williams supported at least 38 charities and foundations, including the American Foundation for AIDS Research, the Children's Health Fund, the Muhammad Ali Parkinson's Center, and the Volunteers of America. Rest in peace, legend.

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