Robin Williams, Marsha Garces and fatherhood

Originally published on June 21, 2006 | Philippine News Online | written by Janet Susan R. Nepales

LOS ANGELES--"If I had a choice to erase from my life something, I would leave all the memories of my children... even the memories when they misbehave because it is still extraordinary."

That was funny man Robin Williams talking.

One thing the quick-witted, Academy Award-winning actor and comedian takes seriously is fatherhood. In fact, he admitted that one of the reasons that made him stop drinking was his children.

He revealed, "I stopped drinking when I had children because I wanted to be awake and aware. I did not want to be going, you know, daddy loves you and then drop my head on the table. I do not want to miss anything that they do or say. It is important to me. You are pretty much on drugs anyway when you have a kid. You are awake. You are covered in shit. It is okay, you know (laughter). Once you have a baby, you meet the most paranoid people on the planet. The baby! Oh, it is on her breast! (laughter). And that is why I stopped drinking right away."

Robin, who received the Cecil B. DeMille Award at last year's Golden Globes or the lifetime achievement award, is the father of three children. He has Zachary Williams, 23, with first wife Valerie Velardi and has Zelda, 17, and Cody Alan, 14, both with his current Filipino wife Marsha Garces Williams (his former nanny-turned-personal assistant-turned-wife-turned-producer).

Currently filming "Mrs. Doubtfire 2" [RWF Note: this is inaccurate information; as of June 24, 2006, there's not even a film script] and "Night at the Museum" where he will be appearing as Theodore Roosevelt, Robin simply described his wife as "Finnipino because she is half Finnish and half Filipino."

He revealed, "Her dad is Filipino and her mom is Finnish. You get some interesting dishes with that combination like lechon with white fish... interesting flavors."

According to Robin, "Marsha's father, Leon Pantaleon Garces, came from the Philippines and went to the States. He joined the Navy but he was not a naturalized citizen. She has not been to the Philippines since she went back with her father. That was 17 years ago. I have not been there with her."

Of his three children, his daughter Zelda has inherited his love for acting. In fact, she has already appeared in a movie with him in the David Duchovny-directed movie, "House of D."

Robin described his daughter, "She was so good in the movie 'House of D.' She was so instinctual. I was playing a character that was mentally challenged. I am kind of sitting there watching her and at the same time saying, she is good. She has the same kind of mental quickness but she is also sensitive. The greatest compliment of all was that she was not only a good actress; she was also kind to people. She treated all the other kids well. She ate lunch with everybody. She did not have an attitude with them and was decent with all the crew. People said, 'Your daughter is good but she is also nice.' That is kind of the double bill."

Of his eldest son Zach, he said, "I am so proud of him. He has a degree in Linguistics and wants to study to be a lawyer."

As for his youngest, Cody, he revealed, "He is like a ninja poet. He is the kid who writes dark poetry. He is 14 but he is part homeboy."

Robin, who was an only child of Robert (a car salesperson) and Laurie (a homemaker) Williams, usually was left playing alone so he started imitating different voices to entertain himself.

He pointed out that it was his mother "who was my strongest believer and supporter to become an actor. She gave me the seed that performing is something good."

He also noted, "I got my quick wit from my mom. She was very quick but I think that came as more of a defense mechanism developed to fire back."

As for his dad, he recalled, "My father had a dream and he lost it because his family went from having money to losing it all since he grew up during the Depression, World War II. So he had to go work in a mine and leave college. I think he wanted me to do better than that. We came from a generation of people who were raised by parents who said you could do better. Come on. Pursue that. Do this and that. So I am thankful my dad did that."

Robin, who just turned 55 last July 21, confessed, "I don't really think about old age. I acknowledge that at a certain age, there are things that all of a sudden you start to realize I did not hear that. Or, you have a senior moment where you go, what is my name? Oh Robin. Yeah right."

He admitted that what really scares him right now is realizing that he is losing friends like former "Superman" actor, Christopher Reeve (who was Robin's former classmate in drama at Juilliard) and other people. He pointed out, "All of a sudden, they are dying off."

He shared, "Marsha and I are both orphans now. When my parents died, I never thought they would. My mother was so full of life. The next thing you know, she is a husk. My father too--he almost died and was like brought back to life and he said 'Why did you do that?'"

As for his own eulogy, he said, "I have not thought about it but when I die, just dance on my grave and water the plants with what you are drinking. Please do not clone me because after a while your clone is not as bright as you are."

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