Robin Williams And Christopher Reeves Shared Friendship Since College


1978 was a huge year for out-of-this-world entertainment in two very different genres with one big thing in common. On September 14, the extraterrestrial Mork arrived on Earth from the planet Ork and launched the monumental career of Robin Williams. Then, on December 15, Krypton native Superman lands on Earth played by Christopher Reeve. These two actors who played famous aliens actually had another thing in common: an enduring friendship.

In 1973, the esteemed, competitive Juilliard only accepted 20 pupils. Two of them were Williams and Reeve. Reeve chronicled this historic first meeting in his autobiography, Still Me. neither could have known it at the time, but this was the start of an inspiring relationship that would be just one of the many things they had in common.


Christopher Reeve and Robin Williams became friends in college

Christopher Reeve told the story of his friendship with Robin Williams in his autobiography, Still Me / Amazon

“The first person I met at Juilliard was the other advanced student, a short, stocky, long-haired fellow from Marin County, California,” recalled Reeve in Still Me, which hit shelves in 1998, “who wore tie-dyed shirts with track suit bottoms and talked a mile a minute. I’d never seen so much energy contained in one person. He was like an un-tied balloon that had been inflated and immediately released. I watched in awe as he virtually caromed off the walls of the classrooms and hallways.”


RELATED: Robin Williams’ Children Pay Heartfelt Tribute To Him On What Would’ve Been His 72nd Birthday

He continued, “To say that he was ‘on’ would be a major understatement. There was never a moment when he wasn’t doing voices, imitating teachers, and making our faces ache from laughing at his antics. His name, of course, was Robin Williams.”

Reeve witnessed some of the more traditional instructors grow uncertain in the face of Williams’ relentless antics, but when Williams had to monologue as an old man confined to a wheelchair, “He simply was the old man.” He slid into every role from serious to silly like other people change clothing.

Others tried to keep pace with Williams but Reeve was content to admire and to be there for him. Their peers wanted to bounce off of Williams the comedian but when Williams needed “to switch off and have a serious conversation with someone, and I was always ready to listen.”

“Robin was able to share his real feelings with me, and I always did the same with him,” Reeve added. “This has remained true for twenty-five years.”

The two stayed friends through the highs and lows

Watching Williams work was like witnessing a force of comedy nature / Ron Phillips/©Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Williams never forgot his buddy from Juilliard and never let their bond dwindle for an instant – but especially when it mattered most. Jump to the early ‘80s and the release of Superman II, Reeve was feeling disillusioned with Hollywood. Of course, there was Williams, just in time to take Reeve out to a rejuvenating dinner. “One evening we went out to a local seafood restaurant, and as we passed by the lobster tank I casually wondered what they were all thinking in there,” shared Reeve. That was all it took for Williams to speak for the crustaceans, where one was egging for a fight and another just wanted to redesign the tank. Other patrons openly listened and Reeve’s face hurt from laughing.

It was a boisterous foil to the time Reeve patiently listened to Williams, back in college, talk about the girl he had a crush on who wrote him off as nothing but a big goofball.

SUPERMAN, Christopher Reeve, 1978. (c) Warner Bros./ Courtesy: Everett Collection

For how much admiration and support Reeve recalled in his autobiography, it’s worth noting it was entirely a two-way street. Reeve’s entire career was completely derailed when he fell from a horse in ‘95, causing him to require a wheelchair and ventilator for the rest of his life – along with some serious surgery. Reeve knew he had a 50% chance of not surviving and his thoughts turned darker the closer the surgery drew. Then, once again, came Williams, armed with a thick Eastern European accent, declaring him Reeve’s proctologist ready to perform an examination.

“And for the first time since the accident, I laughed,” Reeve confided. “My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay.”

When Williams won the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 2005, he dedicated the lifetime achievement award to Reeve.

RELATED: Christopher Reeve Talks Irony In Injury: “We’re All One Big Family”

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