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August 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

In a poignant message, President Obama led a host of public officials and celebrities paying tribute to Robin Williams, who died on Monday at age 63, an apparent suicide. "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," the president said. "He arrived in our lives as an alien — but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. 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." Further tributes came from all over the world. "We lost you, dear you and poor you," Chinese actress Yao Chen wrote on her Twitter-like micro-blog. British comedian Ricky Gervais tweeted: "I am deeply saddened. He was a lovely man who would keep everyone laughing even if he wasn’t feeling good himself." Steven Spielberg issued a statement saying, "Robin was a lightning storm of comic genius and our laughter was the thunder that sustained him." Billy Crystal tweeted: "No words." Film critics joined the chorus. To A.O. Scott of the New York Times he was "one of the most explosively, exhaustingly, prodigiously verbal comedians who ever lived. The only thing faster than his mouth was his mind, which was capable of breathtaking leaps of free-associative absurdity." Geoffrey McNab in the London Independent observed that in recent years Williams had sometimes been taken for granted. "With his untimely death, audiences and critics should take a step back and look more generously and perceptively at what has been an extraordinarily rich and varied career," he wrote. And Robert Lloyd in the Los Angeles Times assessed his talent this way: "Just as there are people in the world who can jump really high or play the violin amazingly well, there are people whose brains work more quickly than most, who can jump from word to word and concept to tangential concept, improvising variations on a theme with spooky ease." And Peter Bradshaw in Britain’s Guardian summed up: "What a remarkable performer. This is a brutal shock." CBS, which recently canceled Williams’s last TV series, The Crazy Ones, issued a statement saying, "We will remember Robin Williams as one of the unique talents of his time who was loved by many, but also as a kind, caring soul, who treated his colleagues and co-workers with great affection and respect."