Williams suffered from a neurological disorder called Lewy body dementia prior. The disease impacts a patient’s mental abilities and can cause depression, apathy and hallucinations, according to the Mayo Clinic. Fans are now getting an in-depth look at how Williams’ final days played out in a new documentary called Robin’s Wish. The film is now available on-demand.
Here’s what you need to know:
Rebecca Erwin Spencer Entered Robin Williams’ Bedroom After Knocking Several Times
Spencer and her husband, Dan Spencer, were close friends with Williams and lived a few minutes away from the actor in Tiburon, California. At the time of his passing, a neighbor explained to the Daily Mail that the Spencers were regular fixtures at the Williams house and were like family members.
Williams’ wife, Susan Schneider, left the house around 10:30 a.m. that day. She assumed Williams was still sleeping, Page Six reported. Williams had been sleeping up to 18 hours at a time in the final days before his death, according to the New York Daily News.
Spencer went to Williams’ house later that morning. She knocked on Williams’ bedroom door but he did not answer. KPCC Radio, citing the Marin County Sheriff’s Department’s Assistant Deputy Chief Coroner Keith Boyd, reported that Spencer “managed to get into the room and found Williams having hanged himself” using a belt. The actor also had “superficial wounds on the inside of his left wrist.”
Spencer called 911 just before noon. Emergency responders pronounced Williams dead shortly after arriving at the house. Williams was 63 years old.
Williams Praised Spencer For Keeping Him Grounded
Spencer began working with Williams in 1993 on the set of Mrs. Doubtfire, according to her profile on IMDB. She is credited as Williams’ assistant on more than 30 movies including Jumanji, The Bird Cage, Good Will Hunting, Bicentennial Man, Night at the Museum and August Rush.
Spencer described her job on her LinkedIn profile without mentioning Williams’ name. “I helped lead a core team that supported my principal and served as his primary gatekeeper. I traveled extensively with him attending to every detail from personal support to liaising with external film and industry contacts. Due to my long tenure with him, I often needed to be flexible and willing to take on many different roles.”
One of those roles was to keep Williams’ ego in check, a responsibility the actor appreciated. Williams praised Spencer during his speech at the Golden Globes in 2005 when he accepted a lifetime achievement award:
I also want to thank another amazing woman, Rebecca Jane Erwin Spencer who is my assistant, who has a quick way of really leveling me when I get too infused with myself going ‘I’m a star.’ She’ll go, ‘Hey, Mork guy.’ Quick, puts it right down there. ‘Oh, did you have to walk to the private plane? Life’s a bitch.’ Come on, let’s go.'”
Spencer’s Husband Described Williams as a ‘Gentle Soul’ Who ‘Appreciated the Simple Joys of Life’
The Daily Mail reported in 2014 that Erwin Spencer and her husband Dan were a quiet couple who preferred to stay out of the spotlight. But they were more than just Williams’ employees. They were close friends as well.
Dan Spencer, in addition to being a professional writer with several novels under his belt, also worked for Williams as a personal assistant. He wrote on his LinkedIn profile that he handled administrative duties, served as a comedic consultant and script analyst, managed social media and handled charity requests.
The Spencers traveled extensively with Williams, including on USO tours to perform for military personnel. In a Facebook tribute to the late actor, Dan Spencer wrote about how Williams played with toy soldiers as a child while his parents were gone and that the USO tours were, symbolically, a way for Williams to give back to his childhood playmates. The post has since been made private but Radar Online shared this excerpt from Spencer’s post:
Then [Williams] went off to dangerous places like Afghanistan and Iraq at the height of war to entertain the troops, the soldiers. Maybe it was a way to pay back his boyhood friends. Those of us lucky enough to be in his sphere saw our hero conquer the world. We joined him on journeys across the globe. He killed ‘em! He slayed ‘em! What great victories! What wondrous experiences! We were incredibly fortunate to follow him into the breach. With laughter, love, and kindness, he did it! He saved the world!
One year after Williams’ death, Dan Spencer shared memories of his friend in a Medium editorial. He described Williams as a “gentle soul” who “appreciated the simple joys in life.” Dan described an evening when he and Rebecca treated Williams to dinner:
[Williams] also lived in the moment by enjoying life’s simple pleasures. One night, my wife and I took him to dinner at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican family restaurant. Nothing fancy, wooden booths, dim lighting, decent food. He loved it and thanked us repeatedly for taking him there, as if it were the most joyous experience of his day. He had that sort of big reaction to small things all the time. He could get excited over a breakfast of scrambled eggs.