Apple iPad Air Commercial Featured Robin Williams

R williams 1

Robin Williams: Talented but Tortured

Monday was a very sad day for millions of people in the U.S. and all over the world. The very saddest thing is how someone as brilliant as Robin Williams could take his own life, although he touched so many people with his incredible gifts. Robin Williams entertained the world with his acting, his comedy, his writing and his voice.

I personally remember watching TV’s “Mork and Mindy” as a kid, laughing at the unique and innovative performance by Robin Williams as a goofy alien who came to Earth and tried to fit in. I can’t imagine any other actor successfully pulling off that part.

Just eight months ago, however, I remember seeing Apple’s chilling and inspirational TV ad for the Apple iPad Air. It’s a blockbuster ad, well written, with beautiful imagery, a great soundtrack, and an amazing voiceover. Who is the person that speaks this voiceover, encouraging the viewer to “find your verse”? The answer: None other than Robin Williams.

AppleI honestly did not realize, at the time, that the voiceover in the ad was that of Robin Williams. Somehow it did not immediately register with me. But the voice was so familiar, so reassuring, so inspirational….it was perfect for the message that Apple was trying to convey. I recognized the sound of the voice for sure. It was a voice I had heard hundreds of times in my lifetime. I just didn’t consciously say to myself “Oh, that’s Robin Williams.” For me, it didn’t connect in my brain in that way. This is a testament to Robin’s voice, the cadence of his speech, and the eloquence with which he spoke. It made sense in creating a highly impactful ad. I think anyone who has ever seen Robin Williams in the movie “Dead Poet Society” must have registered in the back of  their mind the fact that in the movie Robin Williams spoke the very same words, “Find your verse”.

Apple iPad Air TV Ad Featuring Voiceover by Robin Williams

Video Courtesy: Apple, Inc.

It is so unbelievably painful to think that someone as talented as Robin Williams could speak these incredibly inspirational words, and yet apparently be so alone, tortured and tormented in his own mind. The fact that he could take his own life, while being so famous and having so many fans is hard to believe. How is it that  Robin Williams couldn’t reach out to someone for help? How could someone who had made so many people, laugh so many times, not be able to seek help in his darkest moment?

Robin Williams as "Mork" in TV's "Mork and Mindy"

Robin Williams as “Mork”

The words of Robin Williams in the iPad Air ad seem to be taken from his memorable performance in “Dead Poets Society”, where he says “What will your verse be?” The words were impactful and chilling when we first heard them eight months ago, in January, 2014. In hindsight, now that he has taken his own life, the words are far more chilling, leaving us all asking “WHY?” What was Robin Williams’ verse? …and why did he purposely cut it so short?

Here is Robin Williams’ full narration for the iPad Air ad:

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering – these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love – these are what we stay alive for.

To quote from Whitman,

“O me, O life of the questions of these recurring. Of the endless trains of the faithless. Of cities filled with the foolish. What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer: that you are here. That life exists and identity. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

“That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

What will your verse be?”

What horribly prophetic words he spoke: “…poetry, beauty, romance, love – these are what we stay alive for.”  Very sad. It’s so heartbreaking to think that someone of his stature couldn’t have the wherewithal to ask someone for help. At the moment he thought of taking his life, couldn’t he have talked to his wife, his agent, Producers, Directors, family, friends, or Tim Cook for that matter, CEO of Apple. Anyone who knows him would have helped him. Now it’s too late.

Apple Graciously Paid Tribute to Robin Williams on the Homepage of Their Site.

Apple’s website is featuring a dedication to Robin Williams, acknowledging his passion, generosity, and gift of laughter.

R Williams TributeJPG

What a shame that such a talented person could not get the help he needed. Of course, we, at, look at this terrible incident with the Tech Explosion mindset of knowing that Robin Williams graced the inspirational Apple commercial. Apple is, of course, one of the most influential tech companies of all time.

But at this time, we have to take a step back and say, with all of the technology we have, how is it possible that over 39,000 Americans commit suicide each year? This number compares to approximately 33,000 deaths by auto accident and 16,000 deaths by homicide in the United States. Those numbers are striking. Until I looked the figures up today, I never would have believed that there are many more deaths by suicide than by auto accident. Incredibly, there are almost 2 1/2 times more deaths by suicide than by homicide. We all hear about violent crime in the news and “The War on Crime”. Why is there no “War on suicide”? If there were 39,000 deaths each year by homicide, there would be a huge uproar, with tens of millions of dollars spent on lowering those numbers.

If anything good can possibly come of this, hopefully this incident will spur people to get help. Hopefully this will open up a dialogue for people to help each other and to get authorities to take suicide much more seriously.

Suicide: There’s an App for That

So of course this got me to thinking: “Suicide, there should be an app for that”. Well, sure enough, there is. An existing app is available called MY3, created by the California Mental Health Services Authority.

MY3 Suicide Prevention App

MY3 Suicide Prevention App

 This app is based on having three people you can call on to get you through a bad time. At the push of a button, you can quickly reach people in your network, or directly contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, or even call 911.

Robin Williams: You will be greatly missed. You entertained us all, yet you now leave us with many questions that need answers. Your passing may just open up a dialogue that will end up saving many lives. This may end up being your ultimate gift to society.

Nanoo Nanoo!

Mork and Mindy Show Open, circa 1978

Video Courtesy of Retro Rebirth / ABC Network

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