Robin Williams has been mourned and celebrated as a comedic genius, but the family of Christopher Reeve painted a more personal portrait of the actor and comedian in a statement made to People Magazine this morning.
"[B]eyond the gift of laughter, he gave our family and the Reeve Foundation the gift of his simple, steadfast friendship. It's a gift we'll treasure forever," the family said.
Reeve, who died in 2004, and Williams met almost four decades ago at The Juilliard School in New York. The aspiring actors moved in together and remained friends even as each found success in Hollywood. But it was after a heartbreaking accident left Reeve paralyzed from the neck down that Williams proved the strength of the bond between them.
In Reeve's autobiography, Still Me, the author recalled how Williams saved him from his "darkest thoughts" in the aftermath of the tragedy.
"[A]t an especially bleak moment, the door flew flew open and in hurried a squat fellow with a blue scrub hat and a yellow surgical gown and glasses, speaking in a Russian accent. He announced that he was my proctologist and that he had to examine me immediately."
It was Williams.
"My first reaction was that either I was on way too many drugs or I was in fact brain damaged," Reeve wrote.
"And for the first time since the accident, I laughed," he continued. "My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay."
In their statement, the Reeves recounted the moment to express their gratitude to Williams for that "quiet and unwavering support."
"The world knew Robin as a comedic titan, but to our family, he was simply one of our Dad’s dearest friends. From the moment they were classmates at Juilliard, their friendship transformed into a brotherhood that was built on a mutual admiration for the theater, the arts and, most importantly, laughter."