PETERSBURG, Va. — The laughter and memories came flooding back to Petersburg film director Tim Reid. The former sitcom star said he was devastated to learn his old friend Robin Williams died of an apparent suicide.
“Losing Robin is a big loss,” Reid said. “The world needs laughter now more than it has in a long, long time and when you lose someone who can make people laugh, it’s a big loss.”
Reid, who is best known for his roles in WKRP in Cincinnati, Simon & Simon and That 70’s Show, said he met Williams in the early 1970’s when they both worked as stand-up comedians in California.
The two later appeared together in The Richard Pryor Show, an improv comedy show that predated Saturday Night Live.
Reid said he remembered Williams’ sharp wit and comedic genius.
“Whenever you were on a skit with Robin, you had to be on because he was going to bring it,” Reid laughed.
While Reid said he proudly watched Williams’ career take off, he knew his old friend battled depression and bipolar disorder.
“He was a very troubled soul. But that’s what made him all the more genius,” Reid said. “His comedy, his observations came from a different place and that’s what I think I’ll remember about him more than anything.”
Williams’ connection to Virginia goes beyond Tim Reid.
He portrayed Patch Adams in the movie by the same name. Adams, who went to medical school at the Medical College of Virginia, sought to help patients through humor and founded the Gesundheit Institute. Gesundheit means good health.
Williams also played John Keating in Dead Poets Society. Keating’s character was based on a man named Sam Pickering Jr., the grandson of Richmond florist John Ratcliffe.
Williams performed at the Landmark Theater in 2008.
Despite Williams’ great success over the years, Reid said he never lost his sense of humility and always greeted his dear friend with a warm smile as their paths crossed over the years.
“He took off on another flight plan,” Reid recalled. “Let’s just say he was always Robin whenever I saw him…that twinkle in his eye, that recognition that we were warriors of the same battle.”