Robin by Dave Itzkoff

On screen, Robin Williams was larger than life. He showed off his wide-ranging talents in roles ranging from the madcap Mork, to the menacing clerk in One Hour Photo. Along the way, he won Emmys, Grammys, Golden Globes, and a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. But there was a quiet side to the famously zany actor. Many of the colleagues Dave Itzkoff interviewed for this biography said, off-camera, Williams was really an introvert who rarely let others know what he was thinking or feeling. Itzkoff does a good job of balancing these two halves of his subject. His book is part breezy celebrity biography (featuring interviews with Billy Crystal, David Letterman, and Pam Dawber, among others), but it is also a look at how depression and substance abuse chased Williams throughout his life. The humor of Robin Williams is on full display here, but so is the humanity.

Reviewed by Lynn Heitkamp