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Rhode Islanders Remember Robin Williams; Advocate for Mental Health

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 Twitter:  @markcurtisABC6  

email: mcurtis@abc6.com  

It was the final night of the famed Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1992.

Before the program taped, Rhode Island Film and TV office director Steven Feinberg was walking past the studio, when he and his friend Ellen had a chance encounter with Williams.

"I said, ‘Ellen, that's Robin Williams!’ And she said, 'No he's got orange hair.’ I said he's doing the movie ‘Toys’ with Barry Levinson. And he came up and I said, 'Excuse me, will you tell her you're Milton Berle and he started laughing... And then he met her and we talked and it was a very special day."

Williams went on to win an Oscar and two Emmys.

ABC6 News Reporter Mark Curtis said, "But people aren't just talking about Robin William's great career in show business. They are also talking about his troubled personal life.'

Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy was stumping for candidates in East Providence.

Like Williams, Kennedy battled substance abuse and mental illness for years, and is now a national advocate for better treatment.

"Imagine what it's like for any other American dealing with the same type of intractable depression that he was suffering from. So we need more research. We need a greater urgency to these issues," Kennedy said.

And at Butler Hospital in Providence, suicide prevention advocates were advising people or loved ones to ask for help if in crisis.

"Make sure we reduce the stigma, so that people have access to care. If people are worried about loved ones they should seek professional help. These conditions are very treatable and do not have to end up this way,” said Dr. Lisa Shea of Butler Hospital.

Robin Williams was just 63, taking his own life after decades of substance abuse and depression.

He last performed in Providence at PPAC in 2002.
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