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Robin Williams pens touching tribute to former co-star Jonathan Winters

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Apr 16, 2013 | 10:08am EDT

Actor Robin Williams has penned a touching tribute to his former Mork & Mindy co-star Jonathan Winters following his death last week (11Apr13) at the age of 87. The veteran comedian, who played Williams' son Mearth on the hit TV sitcom, passed away of natural causes and now the Good Will Hunting star has written an opinion piece for the New York Times, in which he recalls his fondest memories of his best pal. In the column, he writes, "In 1981, my sitcom Mork & Mindy was about to enter its fourth and final season. The show had run its course and we wanted to go out swinging. The producers suggested hiring Jonathan to play my son, who ages backward. That woke me out of a two-year slump. "(His) improvs on Mork & Mindy were legendary. People on the Paramount (Pictures) lot would pack the soundstage on the nights we filmed him... On one of his first days on the show, a young man asked Jonathan how to get into showbusiness. He said: 'You know how movie studios have a front gate? You get a Camaro with a steel grill, drive it through the gate, and once you're on the lot, you're in showbiz.'" Williams also touches on Winters' struggle with bipolar disorder, which twice landed him in a psychiatric hospital, adding, "Earlier in his life, he had a breakdown and spent some time in a mental institution. He joked that the head doctor told him: 'You can get out of here. All you need is 57 keys.' He also hinted that Eileen (his wife) wanted him to stay there at least until Christmas because he made great ornaments. "Even in his later years, he exorcised his demons in public. His car had handicap plates. He once parked in a blue (handicapped) lane and a woman approached him and said, 'You don't look handicapped to me.' Jonathan said, 'Madam, can you see inside my mind?' "If you wanted a visual representation of Jonathan's mind, you'd have to go to his house. It is awe-inspiring. There are his... model airplanes, trains, and tin trucks from the '20s; miniature cowboys and Indians; and toys of all kinds... But the toys were a manifestation of a dark time in his life. "Jonathan was a Marine who fought in the Pacific in World War II. When he came home from the war, he went to his old bedroom and discovered that his prized tin trucks were gone. He asked his mother what she did with his stuff. 'I gave them to the mission (charity),' she said. 'Why did you do that?' 'I didn't think you were coming back,' she replied. Jonathan has shuffled off this mortal coil. So here's to Jonny Winters... Damn, am I going to miss you!"

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