– ‘One of a kind’: Obama –
Obama, on holiday in Martha’s Vineyard, referenced Williams’ array of beloved performances as he led the tributes to the entertainer.
“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind, ” Obama said in a statement.
“He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit,” he added, referring to Williams’ breakthrough television role as the extraterrestrial visitor Mork.
“He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most – from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets.”
Legendary director Spielberg paid tribute to “a comic genius.”
“Robin was a lightning storm of comic genius and our laughter was the thunder that sustained him,” said Spielberg.
“He was a pal and I can’t believe he’s gone,” added Spielberg, who famously regularly phoned Williams to cheer himself up during filming of his harrowing 1994 Holocaust drama “Schindler’s List.”
Spielberg’s tribute was echoed throughout an entertainment industry left reeling by news of the comic’s death.
“I can’t believe the news about Robin Williams. He gave so much to so many people. I’m heartbroken,” comic and talkshow host Ellen DeGeneres said on Twitter.
Fellow comedian Steve Martin added: “I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.”