Robin Williams was an adored icon of the entertainment industry. Over the years, this endearingly energetic comic proved himself to be a surprisingly versatile talent.
He served up impishly improvisational turns in classic audience favorites like “Mork & Mindy,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” and “Good Morning, Vietnam.”
Yet he also capably delivered more serious, reflective character interpretations in “Awakenings,” “Good Will Hunting” and other critically acclaimed films.
His untimely death in 2014 shocked millions of admiring fans. It was somehow unfathomable that this amazing force of nature would no longer be here to amuse and enlighten us.
Maybe that’s why a recent discovery seems like a quietly moving gift of sorts. It involves a photographer named Daniel Sorine and a random day spent in New York’s Central Park.
Back in the 1970s, Sorine was just getting started and establishing his photographic style.
He explained to media outlets that due to a youthful shortage of funds, “the streets of New York City became my studio, as well as the studio for many other aspiring photographers.”
In those days, Sorine recalled Central Park as “a photographer’s paradise” due to the vast number of live street performers honing their own craft. On a fateful 1974 afternoon, one especially energetic duo captured his interest.
Sorine was enthralled by what he described as the pair’s “unusual amount of intensity, personality, and physical fluidity.”
He approached them, he remembered, and “they allowed me to invite them into my camera, instead of me having to chase after them.”
For the next 35 years, all those intriguing shots simply served as a nostalgic memento of a fun, impromptu interaction.
But one day when Sorine was sorting through some early work, he looked at the photos — and then looked again.
He was stunned to realize that he’d unintentionally captured what he later described as “a wonderful moment in history.” Because there, staring straight into Sorine’s lens, was a young Robin Williams along with fellow mime Todd Oppenheimer.
Sorine had focused in on this awesomely creative talent, still in the early stages of cultivation.
The photographer’s recollections also spoke to Williams’ inherent kindness and generosity of spirit — which others would later note, as well.
The world will never again be graced by the singular gifts the great Robin Williams shared. But looking at these long-ago photos, we can all take a moment to reminisce, cherish, sigh, salute, and smile in heartfelt gratitude.
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