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Darkness overtakes Williams' blinding acting talent

Few celebrity deaths shook the entertainment world in the way Robin Williams’ suicide did.

He was only 63. He had a TV show that was successful because of him. He was sought after in the movies. He had won an Oscar. He was a hit with his live performances. He had wrapped up several projects, including “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” in which he reprises his role as Teddy Roosevelt.

And he took his own life, which was proof, if any were needed, that mental illness is an equal opportunity disease, affecting the rich as well as the poor, the famous as well as the anonymous, those who can get help and those who are alone with their illness.

The Wrap, an online entertainment news publication, listed 13 unforgettable Williams scenes. They were all interesting, all unforgettable. But anyone familiar with Williams’ work could also come up with 13, and at least some would be different from the Wrap’s, whichcan be found

Regardless, the Wrap’s selections show Williams’ remarkable range. There are scenes from “Mork & Mindy,” “Dead Poets Society” and “Hook.”

But there’s nothing from “Insomnia,” which proves not that the Wrap missed something but rather that anyone can come up with a unique list of Robin Williams’ Greatest Hits.

If Williams’ name brought people to “Insomnia” (2002) because they expected a manic display of humor, they were profoundly disappointed.

Williams played a creepy pulp novelist suspected of killing a teen-age girl. Williams’ character taunted a cop played by Al Pacino. And the performance underscored Williams’ range.Not once is there even a flash of Williams’ humor.

“Good Morning, Vietnam,” which was among the Wrap’s 13, had many examples of Williams’ wild riffs. But one would be hard-pressed to call the film only a comedy. The movie was famous for its contradictions: Williams made jokes, followed by a bombing, Williams did comedy for a truckload of soldiers heading toward a fighting zone. There were scenes of soldiers moving war materiel while Williams’ DJ character was talking.

In a way, contradictions like those were Williams’ life and death. His light was almost blinding. But for all his brilliance, Williams struggled with, and lost to, darkness.