Robin Williams Son, Zak, Emotionally Remembers Late Dad on His 71st Birthday

by Caitlin Berard

On August 11, 2014, the world lost a true icon in Robin Williams, whose unexpected death was later ruled a suicide. The Hook star left behind his wife, Susan Schneider, and three children, as well as countless friends and fans, all of whom continue to grieve the loss to this day.

Yesterday (June 21) marked what would have been the late comedy legend’s 71st birthday. In a simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking social media post, Zak Williams, Robin’s eldest child, celebrated his father’s birthday and memory.

The image features Robin Williams holding a yellow bike in front of a garage door. Sporting a perfect poker face, the actor is decked out in full road biking gear, most of which is made of spandex. “Happy 71st Birthday Dad!” he wrote. “I’ll be remembering you today as you would want to be remembered, in spandex. Miss you and love you always!”

Since the tragic loss of his father, Zak Williams has become a passionate mental health advocate, sharing Robin Williams’ harrowing story. The beloved actor had been misdiagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he was actually suffering from Lewy body dementia, causing him immense frustration and distress.

“What he was going through didn’t match one to one [with what] many Parkinson’s patients experience,” Zak said on The Genius Life podcast. “So I think that was hard for him.”

“I couldn’t help but feel beyond empathy. I couldn’t help but feel frustrated for him,” he continued. “It can be really isolating even when you’re with family and loved ones.”

‘Mork & Mindy’ Creator Recalls Immediately Recognizing Robin Williams as ‘Special’

Robin Williams is known for so many roles that the one for which he’s most famous really depends on who you ask. There’s no arguing, however, that Mork in Mork & Mindy is an iconic role for the comedian. A spinoff of the classic TV sitcom Happy Days, Mork & Mindy follows Mork, an extraterrestrial from the planet Ork, and his human friend, Mindy.

Today, Robin Williams is known as one of the most celebrated comedians in history. His career had yet to take flight in 1978, however, when producers were searching for the perfect actor to play the quirky alien. But the young actor’s talent and penchant for humor couldn’t be denied. And after thoroughly impressing the series’ creators, he was given the job.

In his memoir, My Happy Days in Hollywood, director Garry Marshall recalled meeting the budding star. “I walked into my office and the street performer was sitting on my couch upside-down on his head,” he said. “When he saw me, he stood straight up and started pretending to drink a glass of water with his finger. That is how I first met Robin Williams. He was special.”

“Could I tell he was talented from the beginning? Yes. Did I know if he could carry an entire sitcom? No,” he continued. “But I knew I could build a show around him. He would be the hip, modern, and zany centerpiece of the show. And we would surround him with calm, talented actors whom he could riff off of.”