I'm sure by the time this has posted, you all may have received the news of actor Robin Williams passing, quite possibly a suicide.
Many of us in the transgender or cross dressing community will remember his portrayal of a family nanny in Mrs Doubtfire. For me though, I grew up very close to one of Robin William's mentors- Jonathan Winters. Winters actually went to school and shared time between Springfield and Dayton, Ohio before serving in WWII.
If you happen to catch any of the old skits Jonathan Winters did on Johnny Carson, you will see the similarity between the two and notice the thin line between brilliance and insanity.
Much later in my life though, Robin Williams found another special place.
The movie was the 1987 Good Morning Vietnam in which Williams played American Forces Vietnam (AFVN) DJ Andrian Cronauer. As luck would have it, I served on the American Forces Thailand Radio Network (AFTN) some 4 or 5 years after Cronauer left "Nam." When the movie was released, all my friends could not wait to go see it with me, so I could provide a running commentary on what was true (some) but most not. Even though it was a movie, I built an instant bond with Robin Williams who portrayed a long gone part of my life which most people don't believe existed. I just laugh and say it was a different life (more than they know) and "got stoned and missed part of it." (Hell, most of the younger people I run into now, have only vaguely heard of the Vietnam mess anyhow.)
Hearing the news about Robin Williams was similar to knowing you have a dear friend with a terminal disease. You just knew he had it in him with all the "voices" he could summon for a role but you never hoped it would happen.
So, when I heard, it was like having a piece of my heart ripped out (sorry Janis) - similar to everytime I learn of yet another transgender person who commits suicide. Such a shame and so sad.
Hopefully Robin Williams is in a better place now, knowing his legacy is safe with so many of us!