Robin McLaurin Williams is born in Chicago, Ill., to former model and actress Laurie McLaurin and Robert Fitzgerald Williams, a senior executive at Ford. He grows up in Chicago, Michigan and California. His half-brother Todd, born in 1938 and nicknamed ‘Toad,’ is his father’s son from his first marriage, while McLaurin Smith-Williams, his mother’s son from her first marriage, is four years older than Robin. The three boys all grow up as only children. While living in Detroit, where his father is posted by Ford, he has a whole floor of the family’s large rented home to himself and creates imaginary friends to fill it. Comedy is his way of connecting with his mother:
I’d think, I’ll make mommy laugh and that will be okay.
He attends boys-only Detroit County Day School, where he uses comedy as a defence against bullying at school in Detroit, but he is otherwise a serious student:
I started telling jokes as a way to stop getting the shit kicked out of me
He later moves to Redwood Senior High School in Larkspur, Calif., where he joins the drama club, and is voted both ‘The funniest’ and ‘Least likely to succeed.’
When I came out to California to go to high school, it was 1969. I went to this gestalt high school, where one of the teachers actually took LSD one day. So you walked in and you hear (whispers), “I’m Lincoln.”
A poem to his mother:
Think young and you’ll never grow old,
The years will pass you by,
Birthdays are for merrymaking,
Present giving and birthday caking,
Age is the state of your mind
As the days of your years unfold,
Don’t live in the past,
Right up to the last
Think young and you’ll never grow old.